Power BI Field Finder

Originally posted on PowerBI.tips: https://powerbi.tips/2020/01/power-bi-field-finder/. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out PowerBI.tips for all kinds of wonderful Power BI content!

Download (and contribute to) the Field Finder at https://github.com/stephbruno/Power-BI-Field-Finder

Latest Field Finder Updates:

The Problem

If you’re like me, building a data model in Power BI is an iterative process.  Sometimes you have to try out different ways of writing measures before you hit on the one that’s right.  You end up with temporary measures that don’t actually end up being used in visuals.  You may also pull in more columns than you might end up needing, just in case.  When you’ve finally finished your masterpiece with measures and visuals, there are probably quite a few that you don’t need.  Two problems with this are that having extraneous columns and measures (1) can slow down your model and (2) can make it more difficult to maintain.  You may also want to know where on your report a change to a measure will have an impact.

The Solution

The problem this led me to was that I had no easy way of finding out where columns and measures were used in the visuals of reports.  I could click on each separate visual and see what elements it used, but I couldn’t go the other way and click on a data element to see where it was used in visuals.  In researching the existing Power BI utilities, I learned a lot about how to improve my data models, but I couldn’t find anything that provided the ability to find where exactly data elements were used in reports.  So I decided to try to build one myself.  Based on the incredibly informative blog posts of Gilbert Quevauilliers, Reza Rad, Jese Navaranjan, Imke Feldman, and David Eldersveld, among others, I was able to create a tool that met some of my needs.  Hopefully it will help you, too! (Note: the Field Finder does not show you the list of unused fields and measures. For a great tool to give you that info, please use Imke Feldman’s Power BI Cleaner. Matt Allington provides a helpful write-up for it as well.)

You can download the Field Finder here:  https://github.com/stephbruno/Power-BI-Field-Finder

This provides downloads of both the pbix file and the template (pbit) file.  If you want to use the tool as-is, just use the template.  If you’d like to see how it works or make some tweaks of your own, then use the pbix file.

Setting up the Field Finder

  1. Double-click the “Power BI Field Finder.pbit” file wherever you downloaded it.
  2. When the file opens, you’ll be prompted to enter a value for the input parameter, which is the complete file path and name of the pbix file you’d like to analyze.  (thanks to Marco Russo, you no longer need to have your source file unzipped!)
  1. Click the “Load” button. The file will start importing the layout information for your file.
  1. After loading the information, you’ll see four tabs. 
    • The first tab (Instructions) provides basic information and instructions.
    • The second tab (Columns and Measures) provides an overview of all pages of your report
    • The third tab (Page Details) provides more detail on each page of your report
    • The fourth tab (Helpful Resources) includes links of blog posts I used to make the tool
  2. Let’s look at the Columns and Measures tab:

On this tab, you’ll see a thumbnail along the top of each of the pages in your report. The types of visuals are color coded and the name of the page is above the thumbnail.  The table on the bottom left gives you the number of times each column or measure is used on each page of the report.  On the right you can also see the page level and report level filters using columns and measures.
Clicking on the thumbnail of a page will filter the tables below to show you exactly which elements are used on that page.  Similarly, clicking on a column or measure name in the tables will filter the thumbnails above so you can quickly see which pages it’s used on.  For example, clicking “Product Standard Cost” from the “Sales” table in the bottom left shows that it’s used in the “Sales Summary” and “Reseller Drill through” pages.  The thumbnails cross-filter to just those pages and the visuals on those pages that use that field.

Or, clicking on just thumbnail for the “Anomaly Detection” page, you can see which columns and measures are used on the entire page.

  1. For more detail on a specific page, click on the “Page Details” tab.

The Page Details tab provides a bigger image of the visuals on the page, as well as more details on the types of visuals and what they’re using.  You can select one of your pages with the slicer on the top. The Visuals Legend provides a color code of the type of visual used and the name of the visual.  If you haven’t updated the name of your visual in the Selection Pane of your pbix file, you’ll get one of these long strings for the visual name that isn’t very helpful.  You’ll also get the list of all the columns and measures used in the visuals as well as any page level filters.
For example, by clicking on “Sales” in the table in the bottom, I can see at a glance where the Sales field is used on the page.  The image of the page also makes it easy for me to go to my pbix file and find exactly which visuals it’s used on.

  1. If you make changes to your source pbix file, just save it and then refresh the Field Finder to get your updates.
  2. If you want to examine a different pbix file, all you need to do is change the parameter for the file name and path.  To do that, go to “Transform data – Edit parameters” and enter the path and name of the next file you want to look at.

I hope you find the Field Finder useful.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions for future versions.

Many thanks to Seth and Mike of powerbi.tips for creating the improved visual layout of the Field Finder!

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.

3 thoughts on “Power BI Field Finder”

  1. Oh my, Stephanie! I think this tool cuts my time spent on documentation and validation of developer work in half or more! Thank you so much!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s