About DataViz, Canvas, Dashboard, and Tiles

by Sarah Mason

For data visualization there are difference programs to assist, Power BI is a choice I have made for both a analytics portfolio and a recent client through my consulting. There are other options, Tableau being a common app which is similar in creating tiles that are connected to a data model, with R and Python preferred for creating a plot that provides a visual of data with simple to complex results. Using pictures made by tiles on a canvas is a great way to share analysis quickly and efficiently. The choice of Power BI is based on leaning toward an app I use more often.

A canvas created the dashboard, which can be interactive or static. Creating an interactive report using the tiles on a canvas connected to a selector is a way of allowing for user interaction and exploration of results. This encouraged communication about information and including of the facts into decision making.

DataViz with Power BI

A Power BI dashboard is a single page, often called a canvas that uses a collection of visuals to communicate a story.

A tile is a view of your data, interactive, live, or user defined, pinned to a dashboard by the developer of the report. Tiles can be from a report, dataset, dashboard, the Q&A question box, Excel, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), and more.

View this from my portfolio here for an interactive report.

Using selectors allows the user to filter and answer the question based on parameters rather than read a case by case static report. This is a way to increase efficiency and provide empowerment with data through succinct access.

What does this have to do with analytics?

Using the report tools within Power BI connected to an appropriate data model allow for ACES. This stands for: Accurate, Clear, Empowering, and Succinct.

The visualization should accurately represent the data and its trends.
The visualization should be easy to understand, or clear.
The reader should know what action to take after viewing your visualization and be empowered.
It should be Succinct. Your message should easily resonate and be quick to recognize.


There are many tools for data visualization, DataViz, but with experience in Power BI and knowledge of tools. The terms canvas, tile, and selector are universal. Creating a story, or report, with graphical measures instead of written supports a diverse team that is decentralized and also allows a localized team in the office a way to have quick results that follow ACES.




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