Microsoft Previews Customizable Tooltips on Power Map for Excel

New data cards will allow users of Microsoft's geographic visualization software to soon tailor their mouse-over tooltips.


Tooltips are getting more personalized in Power Map for Excel's February 2015 update. Power Map is a geospatial visualization add-on for Microsoft's Office spreadsheet application that leverages Power BI, the company's cloud-based business intelligence product, to overlay data on 3D maps of geographical regions.

In the latest release, expected sometime this month, Microsoft is introducing data cards. As the company's Excel Team explained in an Office Blogs post, the new feature "extends the Power Map tooltip to let you display more contextual information about the data on your map." Data cards allow users to drill down into the underlying data that makes up their column and pie charts.

Another key attribute is their adaptability. According to an online support document, "a data card shows information based on default field list selections, but you can customize the data card to show the details you want. You can add or remove data fields, change the way those fields are aggregated or organized, include a title (such as a location name), or rename the field headers."

Users don't necessarily have to start from scratch. "You can also pick predefined data fields from a set of layout templates," added the company.

Microsoft also turned its attention to improving the product's heat mapping capabilities. Previously, heat maps only displayed sum data. Moving forward, "you can use heat maps to represent other aggregation types, like average," under the updated Layer Options tab, wrote the Excel team.

This month, users will also be able to add a splash of color, beyond the traditional blue to green and yellow to red color ranges. "Also under the Layer Options tab, you will find an option to change the color of your heat map visualizations," said the company. "Select Custom in the drop down and then just choose the colors you want to include."

Power Map for Excel isn't the only Microsoft mapping product to receive an upgrade in February. Today, Bing Maps Program Manager Erik Lindeman announced new, mobile-friendly high-pixel density (high-PPI) map tiles for the Bing Maps AJAX control.

"By simply setting a parameter in your Bing Maps AJAX Control code for your application, users that are on high-PPI or Retina supported devices will automatically get high resolution map tiles," said Lindeman in a blog post. "High-PPI maps provide larger map labels and street lucidity, which is especially helpful when viewing maps on mobile devices and tablets that have smaller screens."

Earlier this month, the company released a bevy of sample code that enables developers to incorporate point-based business data and create informative visualizations on Bing Maps.

"It is often said that upwards of 80 percent of business data has some sort of location based context to it," said Ricky Brundritt, another Bing Maps program manager, in a statement. "Many companies use Bing Maps to make better sense of their business data by visualizing it on a map."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...