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Power BI Blog: Better Custom Visuals

17 August 2023

Welcome back to this week’s edition of the Power BI blog series.  This week, we look at ways of enhancing your custom visual’s performance.


If you’re interested in creating your own visuals in Power BI, then this article is for you!  Microsoft has announced techniques to improve the performance of custom visuals, discussing the performance improvements made in both visual rendering and load times.  They have identified and addressed certain bottlenecks in the code, and these improvements are available for any visual that has been updated to API version 4.2 and onwards.  Along with these fixes, Microsoft has also provided code practices and techniques that can greatly enhance the performance of rendering custom visuals.  It is recognised that getting the visual to render as quickly as possible is critical when writing the code.

Having said all this, as the Power BI platform continues to be improved and enhanced, new versions of the API will constantly be released.  In order to get the most out of the Power BI visuals' platform and feature set, it is recommended that you keep up-to-date with the most recent version.  To find out which version you’re using, check the aversion in the pbiviz.json file.

In the meantime, here are some recommendations for achieving optimal performance for your custom visual.


Reduce Plugin Size

A smaller custom visual plugin size results in:

  • faster download times
  • faster installation whenever the visual is run.


Check Render Time of the Visual

Measure the render time of your visual in various situations to see which, if any, parts of the script require optimisation.


Power BI Desktop Performance Analyzer

Use the Power BI Desktop Performance Analyzer(sic) (View -> Performance Analyzer) to check how your visual renders in the following cases:

  • first render of the visual
  • thousands of data points
  • a single data point / measure (to determine the visual render overhead)
  • filtering
  • slicing
  • resizing (this may not work in the Performance Analyzer).

If possible, compare these measurements with those of a similar core visual to see if there are parts that may be optimised.


Use the User Timing API

Use the User Timing API to measure your app's JavaScript performance.  This API can also help you decide which parts of the script need optimisation.


Other Ways to Test Your Custom Visual

There are various ways to test you custom visual:

  • code instrumentation: use the following console third party tools to gather data about your custom visual's performance:
    • console.log()
    • console.dir()
    • console.time()
    • console.timeEnd()
  • the following web developer tools may also help measure your visual's performance, but keep in mind that they profile Power BI as well:
    • Metrics
    • JavaScript profiler.

Once you determined which parts of your visual need optimisation, you can then implement these further tips.


Update Messages

When you update the visual:

  • don't re-render the entire visual if only some elements have changed.  Render only the necessary elements
  • store the data view passed on update.  Render only the data points that are different from the previous data view.  If they haven't changed, there's no need to re-render them
  • resizing is often done automatically by the browser and doesn't require an update to the visual.


Cache DOM Nodes

When a node or list of nodes is retrieved from the DOM (Data Object Model), think about whether you can reuse them in later computations (sometimes even the next loop iteration).  As long as you don't need to add or delete more nodes in the relevant area, caching them can improve the application's overall efficiency.

To make sure that your code is fast and doesn’t slow down the browser, keep DOM access to a minimum.  For example, instead of:


public update(options: VisualUpdateOptions) {

    let axis = $(".axis");




public constructor(options: VisualConstructorOptions) {

    this.$root = $(options.element);

    this.xAxis = this.$root.find(".xAxis");


public update(options: VisualUpdateOptions) {

    let axis = this.axis;


Avoid DOM Manipulation

Limit DOM manipulations as much as possible.  Insert operations like prepend(),append() and after() are time-consuming and should only be used when necessary.  For example, iInstead of:


for (let i=0; i<1000; i++) {



try making the above example faster by using html() and building the list beforehand:


let list = '';

for (let i=0; i<1000; i++) {

    list += '<li>'+i+'</li>';



Reconsider JQuery

Limit JS frameworks and use native JS whenever possible to increase the available bandwidth and lower your processing overhead.  Doing this might also decrease compatibility issues with older browsers.


Animation Options

For repeated use of animations, consider using Canvas or WebGL instead of SVG.  Unlike SVG, with these options, performance is determined by size rather than content.


Canvas Performance Tips

You should read up on third party sites for tips on improving canvas performance, such as”

  • faster load times
  • improving HTML5 Canvas performance
  • optimising canvas generally.


Animation Functions

Use requestAnimationFrame to update your on-screen animations, so your animation functions are called before the browser calls another repaint.


Animation Loops

Does the animation loop redraw unchanged elements?  If so, it wastes time drawing elements that don’t change from frame-to-frame.  Instead, you should update the frames selectively.

When you're animating static visualisations, it’s tempting to lump all the draw code into one update function and repeatedly call it with new data for each iteration of the animation loop.  Instead, consider using a visual constructor method to draw everything static.  Then, the update function only needs to draw visualisation elements that change.

In particular, Microsoft has noted that inefficient animation loops are often found in axes and legends.


Common issues

  • Text size calculation: when there are a lot of data points, don't waste time calculating text size for each point.  Calculate a few points and then estimate
  • If some elements of the visual aren't seen in the display, there's not need to render them.


In the meantime, please remember we offer training in Power BI which you can find out more about here.  If you wish to catch up on past articles, you can find all of our past Power BI blogs here.