Power BI: Configuring Your Narrative


Quick Start Guide and Starter Project for Arria NLG’s Add-in for Power BI Desktop


This documentation is organized as follows:

Overview of configuring a narrative

Configuring and generating a narrative

Import Arria’s custom visual into a sample Power BI report
Add a narrative to describe the visuals

Basic things to understand about configuring a narrative

Reference for configuring a narrative

Other documentation for Arria’s add-in to Power BI

Overview of configuring a narrative

The core insights delivered by Arria’s add-in are determined by the fields you select in the Power BI project – the measures and dimensions. You configure your narrative by telling the widget what you want. This happens in three steps:

1. You select the dimensions and measures you want to be covered in the narrative, and then characterize them.

2. You select the kind of analysis you want to perform (e.g. descriptive statistics, trends, variance) and then provide the necessary parameters.

3. You preview the generated text to decide on how much narrative you want – something brief, or something more comprehensive.

Configuring and generating a narrative

You’ll begin by downloading a sample Power BI report. Next, you’ll import Arria’s custom visual into the report. After that, you’ll provide some information about your data and the kind of things you would like to say about it in a narrative. Then, with the click of a button, you’ll generate a narrative from your data.

Prerequisites:
Audience: Business users, analysts, BI experts

Import Arria’s custom visual into a sample Power BI report

1. Download this sample Power BI report.
2. In Power BI Desktop, open the report.

3. In the Visualizations pane (you may need to click Visualizations to open the pane), click the ellipsis (Import a custom visual).

4. You have two options for bringing the Arria add-in into your dashboard. Choose one of the following import options:

  • Select Import from file if you have received the .PBIVIZ file directly from Arria (from this page). For this option, browse to find the file on your machine and click Open.
  • Select Import from marketplace to get the add-in from the Microsoft AppSource. For this option, find the Arria add-in by searching on “arria”, then click Add.

You should now see the Arria logo in your Visualizations pane.

Add a narrative to describe the visuals

1. Make sure to click off the charts. (If you have a chart selected during the next step, the chart will be overwritten.)
2. In the Visualizations pane, click the Arria add-in icon to add the narrative widget to your report. Move it and resize it to fit to the left of the charts.

3. With the narrative widget selected, from the Fields pane, select some fields. For example, a good starting point would be to select the following: Product, Profit, Sales, Segment.

4. You can now configure your narrative. You do this in three pages of a wizard:

  • Tell me about your data. Here, you characterize your data.
  • Tell me what you want to say. Here, you select the kind of analysis you want to perform.
  • Tell me how to say it. Here, you select whether you want to see a summary of the facts from the analysis, all the facts, or something in between.

Follow the instructions in the widget to fill in relevant details about the data you have selected for the narrative. Check the Basics and the Reference sections below for further information about the things the widget is asking of you.

Basic things to understand about configuring a narrative

Scrolling in the widget. Note the scroll bar at the right side of the widget. Use this to make sure you’re seeing all the dimensions and measures for your selected data, and all the characteristics that can be customized.

Focus Mode. To view and work with the widget’s contents, make sure to use the Focus Mode (click the icon in the top-right corner of the widget) if you prefer a larger workspace or improved readability of the narrative generated.

Prioritizing of data fields. Use the grab bars at the top left of each dimension and measure to move them up or down in the widget. The higher the appearance in the widget, the higher the priority for description in the narrative generated.

Copy and paste. If you want to copy the narrative generated to paste elsewhere, you can hover in the top-right corner of the widget to find the copy icon. Click this icon to copy the narrative to your clipboard.

Font formatting. You can change the color and size of the font in your narratives.

Reference for configuring a narrative

UI element
Description
Where is this?
Alias
This can be an alternative name of the field in Power BI, for example, the field “COGS” could have the alias “Cost of Goods and Services”.
Note: The alias can be different from the field name, but it doesn’t have to be.
Step 1. Tell me about your data
(All dimensions and measures)
Comparison
For time-based variance, specify how you would like measures to be compared (e.g. Latest vs. previous, Latest vs earliest).
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say
(Variance > Time-based variance)
Correlations
This type of analysis looks at the strength of a relationship between measures.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say
Coverage
For variance (time-based and target-based), specify an amount from 0 to 100. The amount you specify is the number of drivers or offsets contributing to the percent-coverage of the variance. For example: when the entities are ranked in terms of contribution, if the coverage is 80%, the system selects drivers or offsets that contribute to 80% of the variance; the system leaves out the bottom 20%.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say
(Variance > Time-based variance)
Dimension
A dimension is an attribute or a column in your data that contains categorical values. Examples of dimensions include Product, Country, and Date. In your analysis, if you want to analyze numerical attributes such as Sales or Profit, how do you want to analyze them? By Country? By Product? By Date? Those are dimensions.
Step 1. Tell me about your data
Distributional analysis
This type of analysis describes how the data is distributed through the range of dimensions (e.g. Products, Countries, Segments). Selecting this option gives you more insights into the skew of the data, if it exists.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Descriptive statistics)
Entity selection
For variance analysis, choose between Top 1 and Top 5 for how many entities you want mentioned in the narrative. For example, “The top-three performing regions were…”. What you are doing here is choosing which algorithm will determine the contributing drivers and offsets.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Variance)
Entity type
For characterizing dimensions and measures, the choices of known entity types include DateTime, Location, and Currency. If none of the known types apply, leave this selection blank.
Step 1. Tell me about your data
(All dimensions and measures)
Include distributional analysis
For descriptive statistics, this is the on/off switch for distributional analysis. If you want distributional analysis included in your narrative, check this box.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Descriptive statistics)
Let us decide
See Ranking.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Descriptive statistics)
Measure
A measure is an attribute or a column that contains numerical values, such as Sales, Profit, or Temperature.
Step 1. Tell me about your data
Measures to compare
For correlations analysis, specify the measures you want to consider in the analysis. If you have more than two, click +Add measures to add more.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Correlations)
Period
For time-based variance, select a time period. Options include Month, Quarter, and Year.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Variance)
Ranking
For descriptive statistics, do you want the system to rank statistical insights based on the significance of the facts or insights it finds? Or based on the selected order of the dimensions in the order you have them placed in Step 1 Tell me about your data?
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Descriptive statistics)
Use selected attribute order
Priority is set by how you order your fields in 1. Tell me about your data. (In Step 1, use the drag handles at the top left corner of the fields in the widget to move them up and down in priority order.)
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Descriptive statistics > Ranking) 
Let us decide
Let Arria’s algorithms decide priority.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Descriptive statistics > Ranking)
Selected attribute order
See Ranking.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Descriptive statistics > Ranking) 
Target-based variance
This is for when you want to report on the variance of two measures, such as Actual Sales vs Target Sales or Actual Expenditure vs Budgeted Expenditure, for a single time period.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Variance)
Time-based variance
This is for when you want to report on the variance of a measure in two time periods, such as in the current month vs the previous month or the current quarter vs the same quarter of the previous year.
Step 2. Tell me what you want to say (Variance)
Unit
NLG Studio supports 10 ISO codes, and in narratives, these are converted to symbols. Anything other than the 10 ISO codes supported by Studio are created as a unit and appear in the narrative after the corresponding numerical value. Note: You must enter an entity type in order to use Unit.
Step 1. Tell me about your data
(All measures)
Use selected attribute order
See Selected attribute order.

Other documentation for Arria’s add-in to Power BI

For more information, see:

Extending narratives

Creating custom narratives for JSON-type Studio projects

Creating custom narratives for table-type Studio projects

Arria’s showcase project for Power BI