Are Power BI Slicers Still Relevant with the New Filter Pane?

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Power BI recently previewed a new filter experience with the addition of an enhanced Filter Pane. Rather than rely on the traditional visual level, page level, and report level experience; the filter pane provides enhanced filter cards that are both easily used and can be styled. As seen below where the filter is set to the default basic option, the new filter pane provides some of the same options as a slicer in the default layout. It also includes Search, has several styling options, can be locked, and can be changed to the optional Advanced filtering mode.

Before the Filter Pane, there were several functionality differences that still made slicers the more powerful option in many cases. Is that still the case?

Sample Date Slicer

You can see the similarities between slicers and filters when set to basic formatting. Those were just checkboxes though. What about more advanced slicer capabilities such as the relative date slicer? Could the filter pane replace that?

Sample Date Filter

The filter pane has a similar option and includes relative date filters… In addition, the advanced setting for filters seems to offer much more flexibility than what the native slicer provides. Considering that slicers take up valuable report real estate, there’s still not much of an advantage for using slicers, is there?

Are Slicers Still Relevant?

With all of the improvements in the Power BI filter experience, are on-page slicers still relevant?

Yes.

But…many basic slicers can and likely should be replaced by the newly enhanced filters.

Even though much of the core slicer functionality is available on the filter pane, and even though slicers take up space on the report page that could be used for visualizing data, there are several reasons why report designers may still prefer to use slicers.

1) Visual Interactions

Power BI gives users the ability to fine tune how a slicer impacts the appearance of other visuals on the report canvas and vice versa. Enabling the Edit interactions option on the Format tab gives authors more options for controlling filters on a per-visual basis.

As an example, maybe you want to prevent a slicer from affecting a card visual but still filter other visuals on the page. This visual interaction is configurable with slicers but not currently with page level filters on the filter pane.

2) Sync Slicers

Filters currently can impact a single visual, apply across all visuals on a page, or affect the entire report (visual level, page level, and report level filters). Sync slicers, by contrast, give report designers the option to selectively apply their filters on individual pages. This provides a high level of flexibility that falls somewhere between page level and report level filters.

3) Layout & Positioning

Slicers are a visual and enjoy the same freedom of movement as other visuals while filters do not. Perhaps you like the flexibility of positioning slicers anywhere–even on a hidden slicer pane. Users might also request that their slicers be added to reports in some unique location. The Filter Pane is currently fixed to the right side of the report canvas. There are many more options to position slicers around the report canvas.

In addition, while filters have different appearances like the basic and advanced layout, slicers have their own unique appearances. For example, some people may prefer the slicer button styling with the horizontal orientation, the dropdown menu, etc.




What do you think? Are there more reasons that you’d still prefer slicers over the new filter experience? Feel free to leave comments below.

 

24 thoughts on “Are Power BI Slicers Still Relevant with the New Filter Pane?

  1. Approx 1 yr PBI experience now. I *love* the new filter experience as it:
    1) frees up real estate
    2) eliminates need to build a similar style filter pane

    I had spent the day prior to the release working on a concealable filter pane for a single page. The next day I started over using the new filter panel & had all pages converted/updated by end of day. My users are thrilled with it!

  2. Unless/until they improve the advanced date filter UI/UX, I will absolutely use the slicer over the filter in any situation where a colleague is going to need to select specific date ranges. Adjusting date ranges with the slicer vs. the filter is significantly easier, faster, and more intuitive–especially for less technically-inclined users.

    • I agree for both the date and numeric slider, as well as a few other things I like in the slicer styling options. I think we’re expecting additional changes before it exists preview, and hopefully those pieces will become more intuitive for everyone.

  3. I like the new filtering experince but I am missin in the ‘basic’ mode the possibility to select all what contains a certain string. That could be reached with the ‘advance’ filter mode. So in some cases I am adding both the basic and the advance filter for tha same field… that I do not like much.

  4. Pingback: Power BI Slicers vs Filters - which will you choose? | Guy in a Cube

  5. Pingback: Slicers vs Filters in Power BI – Frank's World of Data Science

  6. As per comment to Adam’s saxon youtube video, would love to get best of both world.
    I think it could be accomplished by adding a slicer section in the filter pane.
    Have the slicer behaving as they currently do with ability to sync or hide them across pages.
    This would replace the current workaround that the slicer pane is.
    It’s a good workaround but:
    – it leverages bookmarks and if you use these to tell a story you have no real way to separate your slicer pane bookmarks to your story
    – if your slicers uses the same fields but are not synchronized from one page to the other you need to create 2 bookmark per page which is a bit of a pain really…

  7. In explaining this to users, I plan to say that “Filters are applied first, then slicers”. What is your reaction to this statement? True in every circumstance or oversimplified needing further explanation.

    • Logically, it works to simplify it this way for users. They’ll see slicer values impacted by filters so at the surface it seems like they’re applied in a sequence. They could always go deeper if they wanted to, but most won’t.

  8. I like the new filter experience and would have used it if it had provided an option of ordering the filters.
    I have 34 slicers in my report and each of them fires one query to the back-end and takes extra seconds for these many visuals to load. I tried the new filter pane and the page was loading way faster.

    Problem is, the new filter pane sorts filters alphabetically. I cannot place City and Country on top and State toward the end of the filter pane. That would not make sense logically. I would want my GEO filters to be grouped near to each other and in correct logical hierarchy (say City, State, Country).

    Let me know if anybody has faced similar issue and has come up with any solution.
    Hope Power BI team implements this feature soon.

    • At least in the February 2019 version, if not before, the Filter pane order follows the order in which you add them.

      • It allows us to add it in the order, but the orders are not retained once you publish the report into the service, It gets sorted alphabetically.

  9. It allows us to add it in the order, but the orders are not retained once you publish the report into the service, It gets sorted alphabetically.

  10. I love the Filters pame, if they are cascading then we need to give control to developer to set the order on the filters so that the end user knows in which order the filter is getting applied.

    If we say it is cascading will lower filter impact top filters ? I have used some of these settings in Tableau and top filters were controlling lower filters and any change in lower filter will impact the top filters

    I also would like to see if certain filters can be sorted in a certain way – example my date filter should be descending so I can pick my current year much easily and do not have to scroll, I want my customer name filter to be sorted ascending so Alphabet A shows first.

  11. Thanks for this article, David. I feature that is missing, and that I’ve noticed as I have been migrating reports to use the Filters pane, is that bookmarks don’t recognize the visibility status of filters in the pane.

    • Thanks Adolfo. I haven’t tried this personally recently, but are you unchecking the Data option in the bookmark? Now I want to try it to see if the filters behave like Slicers do when Data in the bookmark is disabled.

      • I don’t think I played with that setting. I was just expecting the same visibility behavior I was getting with other visuals.

        By the way, another feature missing is one similar to Sync Slicers.

        Have a nice weekend.

        • Thanks, you too! Something like Sync Slicers is definitely still a need. We need to be able to edit interactions for page or report level filters, which should get us close to the sync slicer behavior.

  12. suppose I have a data set containing payments which are completely settled or just partially settled
    and I want to apply a mandatory filter on this data set, providing only data for which the payment are not settled completely yet. so that’s my first ‘mandatory’ filter. and I don’t want my users to be able to change this filter.
    second to that, I have a bunch of filters which I provide to my users for them to play with – these are my ‘optional’ filters.

    How can I achieve this with the new filter pane?

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