How to create a Skyscraper Map with Azure Maps in Power BI (Bar Chart Map)

Skyscraper Map in Power BI, aka. bar chart map, or bar chart on a map
Skyscraper Map in Power BI, aka. bar chart map, or bar chart on a map

Have you ever seen a bar chart on a map?

I prefer to call this visualization a skyscraper map because you can picture these bars on a map as skyscrapers.

You can use a skyscraper map for displaying geodata along values. The skyscraper map is a combination of a map with locations and a bar chart. The location can represent a city, a country, or some other type of place. As with a bar chart, the height or volume of each bar is proportional to the values it represents.

How to create a Skyscraper Map with Azure Maps in Power BI

First, you need to make sure that the Azure Maps preview feature is enabled in Power BI to create a skyscraper map. This tutorial is based on the Retail Analysis Sample dataset.

1    Click on the Azure Map icon of the Visualization pane.

2 Extend the filled map visual by dragging the lower right corner

3  Select PostalCode from the Fields Plane.

Power BI assigned Country to the Location field.

4  Select TotalSales from the Fields Plane.

Power BI assigned Sales to the Bubble size field.

5    Click on the Format your Visual section.

6          Disable the Bubble layer switch

7          Enable the Bar chart layer switch

8 Expand the Bar chart layer pane

9 Expand the Size pane

10  Select 4 px for Height

11  Select 3 px for Width

You created a skyscraper map that shows sales by zip codes in your data set. Download the PBIX file.

How to enable Power BI’s Preview Features, such as Azure Maps

Some exciting new features in Power BI are not enabled by default. These functions are so-called preview features whose development or testing is not yet completely finished. For certain use cases, such as creating Skyscraper Maps in Power BI, it may be worthwhile to activate them.

In the following blog posts, we will check out some capabilities of the Azure Maps feature. Therefore, let’s see how you can enable Azure Maps, and other preview features, in Power BI.

1    Click on File in Power BI’s menu bar.

2    Click on Options and settings

3    Click on Options

4  Select Preview Features from the lefthand list.

5          Enable Azure map visual

6          Confirm your changes with the OK button

Power BI might ask you to restart the application in order to change the preview features settings. Now you’re good to go to create your Skyscraper Map with the Azure Maps feature!

Which preview features is Power BI offering?

While the preview features change over time, currently you can enable the following preview features in Power BI:

  • Shape map visual
  • Spanish language support for Q&A
  • Q&A for live connected Analysis Services databases
  • Azure map visual
  • DirectQuery for PBI datasets and AS
  • Modern visual tooltips
  • Power Bl Desktop infrastructure update
  • Web page connector infrastructure
  • Modify visuals settings for mobile layout
  • Sparklines
  • Scorecard visual
  • Field parameters


Visual Tracert: Use GeoTraceroute to analyze, visualize and embed internet traffic routes

Visual traceroute from Frankfurt to Ukraine shows redirection via Russia
Visual traceroute (aka. tracert) from Frankfurt to Ukraine shows redirection via Russia

Earlier today I read the news from NetBlocks (via Reuters) that since the weekend parts of the Ukrainian internet traffic are rerouted via Russia. To be precise, it’s about Ukrainian Kherson Oblast, which is occupied by Russia since March.

Now I wanted to trace the internet route myself and ideally visualize it. Here I came across the service of GeoTraceroute, which does a great job in visualizing traceroutes (aka. tracert). For the trace, I chose Frankfurt as starting point, and, the local internet provider in Kherson, as the endpoint.

Of course, you can also include the URL of GeoTraceroute as a web element in your Power BI report or Tableau dashboard and parameterize it for dynamic interactions. You can see the format as in my example:

Our Research featured in Der Spiegel: An Overview of Russia’s Cyberattack Activity in Ukraine

Der Spiegel features Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab Ukraine report
Der Spiegel features Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab Ukraine report

Our research was picked up by German news magazine Der Spiegel, one of the largest investigative journals in Europe. We analyzed incredibly large amounts of data to gain insights into Russia’s cyberattacks in Ukraine.

Read the Spiegel article, which in turn has a link to our report: Microsoft zählt bisher 237 Hackerangriffe auf die Ukraine

And here’s a direct link to the underlying report, which was produced by Microsoft’s Digital Security Unit and is based on insights from the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center and data analysis from our Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab: Special Report: Ukraine – An overview of Russia’s cyberattack activity in Ukraine

How to use a custom Mapbox map as your background map in Tableau

Mapbox map in Tableau
Mapbox map in Tableau

Tableau now comes with more geographical data built in, including updated US congressional districts (CD), local name synonyms for world capitals, Japanese postal, and Mapbox integration. I’ve to admit I really love Mapbox!

What is Mapbox? Mapbox is an online repository of custom-built maps for your needs and enables you to create the perfect map to integrate into your Tableau visualization. Mapbox maps are highly customizable – you can design your own map, build applications, extend applications, use satellite imagery and create static maps. You can even have Pirate Maps!

Mapbox tutorial:

  1. So first off you’ll have to register with
  2. Once you are logged in go to Account > API access tokens > copy and paste your token. You’ll need this for Tableau.
  3. Open up Tableau > connect to your data source that has geographical locations. For this case, we will use the sample sales data set that is preloaded in Tableau.
  4. Map > Background Maps > Map Service to open a popup box.
  5. Add > Mapbox Services > Classic
  6. Fill in a style name for this map > Paste in the access token you previously copied
  7. Drop the selection box down and it will provide a list of classic maps already for your use. For this case, we are going to use Emerald.
  8. Take your city dimension from the data set > double click or drag and drop to populate a map. See below the before and after without Mapbox and with.

If you create multiple Mapbox maps and want to populate different styles on different worksheets, you can:

  1. Maps > Background Maps > Emerald. Here you have a list of maps that you have created.

So here you have a basic understanding of using Mapbox in Tableau.

Happy mapping, literally go explore! And join me on Twitter: