Rajendra Gupta

Power BI Desktop Pulse Charts

October 9, 2018 by

In my last article, Power BI Desktop Interactive chord diagrams, we underscored that Microsoft Power BI desktop has a rich set of customized visualization features. These visualizations can help to produce convert data to information in an efficient manner to an easy to understand format. We can freely download them from Microsoft AppSource

In this part of the series, we will explore below points

  • Pulse Chart in Power BI overview
  • Creating Pulse Chart in Power BI
  • Importing data into Power BI dataset using SQL Server
  • Customizeing the Pulse Chart in Power BI
  • Examples of to create and learn Chord diagram

Pulse Charts

Normally in the hospital emergency department, we can see that the cardiac monitoring device shows the patient’s heart rate continuously. In those devices, heart rates are being shown in the form of pulse chart. It automatically captures the data, creates a pulse chart and continuously moves forward.

Power BI also provides the option to create a Pulse chart. A pulse chart draws the events based on the time series. It allows customizing the chart as well. We can play, pause, move forward, backward in the chart. We can also observe the playback of the complete chart so that we can observe the trend directly.

We can open the link Pulse Chart as shown below and download the Pulse chart to import in Microsoft Power BI Desktop.

Download pulse chart in PowerBI

Creating a Pulse Chart with Power BI Desktop

Example 1: Pulse Chart for Heart rate data

To create the pulse chart, I have the below data into my database that shows the body temperature and heart rate data of a patient with the timelines.

View sample data in SSMS

We need to import the data into the Microsoft Power BI desktop. In my last article, I explained that we could import the data into Power BI Desktop through various methods. We imported the data from CSV in my last example. In this example, we are going to import data from SQL Server Database.

Click on Get data and select SQL Server Database.

PowerBI launch Screen and GetData and view recent source

Select the data source options in PowerBI

Now provide the below details to connect to the database.

  • Server\Instance name
  • Database Name (Optional)
  • Data Connectivity Mode
  • Import: If we directly want to import the data from a single table
  • DirectQuery: we can use this to import data through the query

Click on Ok that asks for additional connection information.

Enter server name, query, and credentials in data source connection.

Select the authentication method. If we want to use windows authentication, select ‘Use my current credentials’.

Else click on Use alternate credentials and provide a username, password. Click on Connect to make the connection.

Select windows or SQL authentication in the data source

By default, it tries to connect to the data source with encrypted connections. However, it cannot connect, we can access the data using an unencrypted connection. Click OK to go forward.

Encryption error and resolution

Preview data and click on Load if all looks good.

Preview sample data in PowerBI and edit if required

It creates the connection and loads the data into power BI Desktop.

View and monitor the data source connection progress

We can see the data fields once the import is completed.

View data source, field details in PowerBI dataset

Now, the next step is to import the Pulse Chart into Microsoft Power BI Desktop. Click on ‘From MarketPlace’

Download the Pulse chart from the Marketplace

Enter ‘Pulse’ in the search box and we can see the Pulse chart with a small description.

Search Pulse chart in Power BI Visuals

Click on Add to import custom visual and once done, we can see below pop up message.

View pop up message once visual import is successful.

As shown below, we can see the Pulse Chart icon into the Visualization section.

View Pulse Chart visualization icon in PowerBI

Double click on the icon and it shows the below screen. Adjust the size of the chart with the sidebars.

Drag or double click pulse chart to launch in the chart editor window.

Once we have adjusted the size, it is easy for us to visualize the data into Pulse Chart.

Expand or shrink pulse chart size and preview it.

Now drag the fields from the datasets below.

TimeStamp Values
Obs HeartRate

Create Pulse chart from the desired data set fields.

As we can see above, it draws the patient heart rate data over a period.

In the top left corner, we can see the chart controls, if click on play, it shows up the playback of the chart as shown below.

Play back and draw the Pulse chart from end to end.

Similar to this, if we want to draw body temperature into Pulse Chart, simply drag the field to Values section.

View the complete chart after playback

Change the data set field to draw Pulse Chart accordingly.

If we want to add a title and description in the Pulse Chart, we can drag the columns to the Event Title and Event Description tab.

For example, if in my example, we want to show ‘HeartRate’ in the event title and description. Therefore, we can see the pop-up window on top of a selected item.

Drag the fields in respective columns to add a title and description in the Pulse Chart.

If we want to highlight the selected line item, we can click on Focus Mode.

Pop up window to show event title and description in Pulse Chart

In the focus mode, we can see that it zooms the particular line item and shows up the event description and title.

Focus mode to view the Pulse chart with zoom.

To exit the focus mode, click on Back to Report.

View different data point in pulse chart with Focus mode.

Customize the Pulse Chart in Power BI Desktop

We can customize the Pulse Chart in Power BI Desktop easily. Click on Format icon as shown.

We can see option to go back in normal view mode.

Format Pop Up window: We can customize the pop- up window size, color, font size, the location from the Popup section.

View and Click on format icon to customize the pulse chart.

Change the pop-up the width, height, color, text size, text color as per requirement.

View the option to format pop up window in Pulse chart

Change the pop-up the width, height, color, text size, text color as per requirement

We can see the customized pop-up window.

Change the pop-up the width, height, color, text size, text color as per requirement

Customize Chart title: By default, Pulse chart title is difficult to read.

We can view the changes in pulse chart after pop up window customization.

In order to improve its visiblily, go to the format section and Title. In the Title section, we can change the title, font color, title alignment (left, center, right), Text size, font etc. Default values are as shown below.

View default chart title in Pulse Chart

Change it as per the requirement.

Change the chart title color, text size, text color as per requirement

Change the chart title color, text size, text color as per requirement

Change the chart title color, text size, text color as per requirement

We can the title is now updated with our customized settings.

Change the chart title color, text size, text color as per requirement

Customize TimeSeries: By default, we can see the time series in the middle of the chart.

We can view the changes in pulse chart after title window customization.

Go to Format section and X-axis. We can select the font color, axis color, background color and position of the time series. If you want to move time series to bottom, select the bottom position.

Change the font color, axis color, background color and position of the time series.

Example 2: Population and employment data

Let us look at one more example to display the population and employment data. Since we have already covered the steps above, we will directly look at the Pulse chart in this case.

Below is our sample data. You can download sample data from the link.

Change the font color, axis color, background color and position of the time series.

We can see the below Pulse Chart from the data. In the below example, we see the unemployed percentage as per the year. In the event title, we can see population and event description as ‘labor_force’.

View sample data for example 2 in Power BI

We can view Pulse chart for example 2 dataset.


The pulse Chart in Microsoft Power BI desktop is really good and useful to represent data as a visual data story. You can create and explore this for your dataset with simple configuration options. I hope you have enjoyed this article and feel free to provide feedback or questions in the comments below.

Table of contents

Power BI Desktop Interactive chord diagrams
Power BI Desktop Pulse Charts
How to create a Word Cloud generator in Power BI Desktop
Power BI desktop Mekko Charts
Hexbin Scatterplot in Power BI Desktop
Candlestick chart for stock data analysis in Power BI Desktop
Enlighten World Flag Slicer in Power BI Desktop
Flow Map Chart in Power BI Desktop
Ask a Question feature in Power BI Desktop
Power BI Desktop Q&A data interaction examples
Power BI Desktop and Python; like Peanut Butter and Chocolate
Power BI Desktop Pie Chart Tree
Importing data from a PDF file in Power BI Desktop

Rajendra Gupta

About Rajendra Gupta

As an MCSA certified and Microsoft Certified Trainer in Gurgaon, India, with 13 years of experience, Rajendra works for a variety of large companies focusing on performance optimization, monitoring, high availability, and disaster recovery strategies and implementation. He is the author of hundreds of authoritative articles on SQL Server, Azure, MySQL, Linux, Power BI, Performance tuning, AWS/Amazon RDS, Git, and related technologies that have been viewed by over 10m readers to date. He is the creator of one of the biggest free online collections of articles on a single topic, with his 50-part series on SQL Server Always On Availability Groups. Based on his contribution to the SQL Server community, he has been recognized with various awards including the prestigious “Best author of the year" continuously in 2020 and 2021 at SQLShack. Raj is always interested in new challenges so if you need consulting help on any subject covered in his writings, he can be reached at rajendra.gupta16@gmail.com View all posts by Rajendra Gupta