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?
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.