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Power BI Box and Whisker visualization vs. Box Plot chart in SSRS

[2016-Apr-30] I don't work with box plot charts very often, however when I do then it becomes a very interesting experience. First, it starts from data extraction and then playing around with various visual settings to make those boxes and whiskers to look good.

I assume that sometimes we tend to work with more familiar chart types to analyze our data, like lines and vertical or horizontal charts; however box plot charts could be very well used to review how your data is distributed within your set of metric values; and besides, it looks different as well :-)

About 3 months ago Microsoft made this type of visualization available in Power BI (Visual Awesomeness Unlocked – Box-and-Whisker Plots), so I decided to compare it with the same box plot chart that I can create using SQL Reporting Services.

My data comes from Berkely Earth (http://berkeleyearth.org/data/) that I had already used for one of my previous PowerMap visualization (Earth Surface Temperature on YouTube). And I took 4 years data of May monthly average temperature from all Canadian Geo stations (1997 - 2000) and showed them both in Power BI and SSRS.

Power BI:
Currently there are two version of the Box & Whisker charts: (1) created by Brad Sarsfield and (2) another created by Jan Pieter Posthuma.




(1) Brad Sarsfield box and whisker chart
Pros:
- Customization for chart quantile value is available 
- Outliers visualization
- Simple data set required Values/Group (values and groups those values are divided to)
Cons:
- Margins for quantiles are rounded to zero decimal places

(2) Jan Pieter Posthuma box and whisker chart
Pros:
- Boxes are colored 
Margins for quantiles are not rounded to zero decimal places
Cons:
- No customization for quantile value (it's preset to Min, 0.25, Mean, Median, 0.75, Max)
- Along with Values/Group settings for dataset, Samples has to be specified (which is basically an attribute for lowest granularity you want to analyze your data)

SSRS: 


























Pros:
- The only SSRS chart for box plot visualization
- More settings can be adjusted compared with similar Power BI visualization
Cons:
- Chart dataset has to be prepared in advance for all 6 data elements (Min, Low, Mean, Median, High, Max)
The only SSRS chart for box plot visualization.

Conclusion:
I personally like Power BI Brad Sarsfield box & whiskers visualization with the way it looks and its customization level, however I also like that margin values for quantiles are not rounded to zero decimal places at Jan Pieter Posthuma visualization.

Thanks for reading this blog post, and happy data adventures!

Data Adventures

My personal journey in an intricate world of data and continuous effort to make it more structured and well understood can be found in this blog.

I live and work in Canada - see my profile on LinkedIn.

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