In this video I will provide a method in which you can place your bar chart labels above the bars in Tableau. This technique is based off Adolfo Hernandez’s technique with a little more explanation and additional alternatives for the zero line. Make sure to add this to your bar chart repertoire!
If you want to follow-along with the video, you can download the data at this link:
I recently ran into the issue of not being able to color a dimensional value because my data did not yet contain that specific value. What I learned through trial and error is that I needed to change the calculated field I was using to force an expected value so I could color it appropriately.
I then had to change my calculated field back to what it was originally and hope that Tableau would remember the color. It would be nice if Tableau had a native built in interface to allow users to assign colors to expected values (regardless if the values are currently in the data), but this feature is not available in Tableau (looking at you very talented developers at Tableau).
Watch the Solution:
I created a calculated field with expected outcomes of “Bad”, “Normal” and “Great” based upon numerical profit data. The profit data I had did not support the “Great” value. Thus I had to doctor my calculated field to force the value and then color it. I didn’t know if Tableau would remember my color selection if I changed the calculated field and then changed it back, but it did.
Don’t worry, you are not the only one looking for a solution to this issue. Here are some Tableau forum links that basically ask the same questions.
Hopefully this post helped you in your search to color those non-existing values. For many of us, not all potential values are available in our data sources, and we many not have access to the underlying source data. Having a nice UI means to assign expected values in advance would be extremely useful.
I worked hard to create a Tableau dashboard packed with multiple features that any beginner or intermediate user should know how to complete. Use this dashboard as an inspiration regarding techniques to learn for your next Tableau dashboard.
Here are a few of the features included in this dashboard:
Top 5 by Dimension
Parameter Driven Chart Swap
Reset All Filters
Combo Chart / Dual Axis Chart (Bar in Bar)
Quick Table Calculations
Containerized Dashboard Layout
Because I love to teach in my relatively spare time, I am considering offering 1 on 1 training to learn how to put together this sample dashboard. As I mention in the video, leave a comment with your thoughts on how much of an investment you think someone would make for 3 hours of 1 on 1 training to build this together. Someone would definitely impress their manager or future hiring manager if they had the knowledge to build this type of front end reporting.
In this video I kickstart the #VizznessFirst initiative where I describe a Tableau Dashboard I constructed using multiple resources from the Tableau #datafam community. Invest your valuable time in watching the videos as it will be worth the investment if you’re looking to pick up some new skills.
I describe the dashboard, show you the resources and then you attempt to build it. This is a perfect intermediate/advanced dashboard idea starter for students looking to improve their Tableau skills.
Let’s start with a little background on how this initiative came together. I am a big fan of the Real World Fake Data (i.e., RWFD) project run by Mark Bradbourne at Tableau. I wanted to finally get involved and put together a dashboard and hopefully learn something new.
Because the particular data set used (Week 5: Help Desk) had very few measures to sum or aggregate; this left counting rows as the most informative means to squeeze some meaning from the data.
I stumbled upon an excellent blog post from Tableau Zen Master Lindsay Betzendahl where she explained a technique to highlight when a “filter” has been activated with a small indicator. I reversed engineered her dashboard to try and tease out how to pull this off with the RWFD data set.
In addition to this technique, I mashed up some other techniques from various members of the Tableau community. One of the great things that I enjoy about the Tableau community is that there are many creators who put out great content for others to learn from; whether it be videos, blog posts, PowerPoint slides, etc.
Once I had a dashboard I was proud of sharing. I figured I would release it as a series to try and teach others some of these techniques. The 3 videos in this series is the culmination of that effort.
VIDEO 1: Overview of the Project and Resources Required
Here are the references I used to put together the dashboard.
Data File: REAL WORLD FAKE DATA DATSET #5 (HELP DESK)
Make sure to watch Video 2 above because this is where I explain the main technique required to complete the dashboard.
VIDEO 3: STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS (TABLE TRICKS)
Video three rounds out the series by demonstrating a cool trick that enables you to build a filter button that opens a detailed table dashboard populated with only the records of interest from the first page. Yes, it uses a filter action but there is twist. Make sure to check it out.
In this video I’ll show you how to show and hide containers in Tableau at the push of a button. This makes for a convenient way to increase space for your dashboard while hiding your filters or switching to an additional hidden chart until needed.
If you’re not using at least Tableau 2019.2.0, then you need to run over to your I.T. department and have them set you up. In previous versions of Tableau you could achieve this effect, but you would have to implement a hacky methodology in order to pull it off. Although I love a good hack, we should all strive to work smarter not harder.
The key to pulling off the show/hide container is to add a floating horizontal or floating vertical container to your dashboard. Only once you’ve taken this step can you see the option to “Add Show/Hide Button”.
Once you’ve selected this option, any new sheets, filters or other objects you wish to place in your container are enabled to appear or disappear at the press of a button.
An “X” marks the spot as this default customizable icon will appear. You can replace this image with text or use your own customizable image in its place.
As a reminder, (from the Tableau Knowledge Base) these options “will not be available if the sheet is not on a horizontal or vertical container and that container is not floating.”
In lieu of the default show/hide icons, in the video we will use buttons from a template provided by Kevin Flerlage. Do yourself a favor and head on over to the Flerlage Twins blog and download this handy resource.
Make sure to give your filters and charts the “Personal Space” they need! Rick and Morty aficionados know exactly what I’m talking about.
For the Power BI curious, here is how a similar process is conducted, where the filters (ahem) slicers are hidden at the touch of a button.
All views and opinions are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect those my employer
Do Great Things with Your Data!
Anthony B. Smoak, CBIP
In all seriousness, the world lost an icon of baseball and civil rights as of the recording of this video; Mr. Hank Aaron. I live in Atlanta so I have to pay my respects with a shout out to Hammering Hank. Rest in Peace #44.
When the data goes high, you can go low; to misquote a common saying. In this video I’ll show you how to start at a region level on your Tableau map and then drill into the State.
If you’re using the Tableau Superstore data set, make sure the Region and State fields are assigned to a geographic role. Most likely you will need to change the Region to a geographic role, which is created from the State field.
At a high level we’ll have a dual axis based upon the latitude, with the top latitude displaying the regions and the bottom latitude displaying the state. When we layer them on top of each other, we begin to create the illusion of the drill.
We’ll use a parameter creatively named [Region Parameter] which contains all of the regions. From there we’ll create a calculated field named [_States to show] as follows:
If [Region]=[Region Parameter] Then [State] END
In order to institute the drill, we’ll create a worksheet parameter action that will change the value of the region parameter on user selection. This causes the clause (If [Region]=[Region Parameter]) to evaluate to TRUE which then causes the display to show the states for the selected region.
It sounds more complicated than it is, so just make sure to watch the video for understanding and clarity.
As a bonus, I’ll show you how to achieve this effect where the selected region does not cause the other regions to gray out. Notice on the second map how all the non selected regions do not lose emphasis; this is not the default effect. It’s the little “show-off” details like this that can up your Tableau game. You’re welcome!
You can thank me by watching, liking and subscribing:
All views and opinions are solely my own and do NOT necessarily reflect those my employer.
Visualizations in tooltips, affectionately know as “Viz in tooltip” is a handy feature available in Tableau that enables “details on demand” functionality. As the user hovers over a specific mark or data point, additional details are revealed that are filtered specifically for that mark from another worksheet.
In the example above, as the user hovers over a bar, they obtain additional details about the three most profitable products associated with the respective bar.
As I learned in a very informative Tableau presentation for tooltip wonks (myself included), the underlying architecture is built upon action commands and shares many commonalities with action filters. For viz in tooltip performance considerations, use smaller and fewer visualizations. Also try to avoid maps and other complex visualizations that have significant mark density.
If your tooltip responsiveness is greater than 2 seconds or the height and or width is greater than 600 pixels, then consider rethinking your approach. According to Tableau best practice, users are not willing to wait more than 2 seconds hovering over a mark for a reveal.
Since the viz in tool tip passes filters between worksheets, this means we can make use of context filters (click this link for a fantastic overview) to limit the number of marks returned and help improve performance.
This is the Section You are Here for
Context filters also help solve the problem of returning the Top N records associated with a mark. When you assign a viz in tooltip on your source sheet, a set filter is applied on the target (i.e., viz in tooltip) worksheet. If you’re a frequent watcher of my videos you know that the Tableau order of operations prevents the default set filter from returning a proper Top N.
By adding the set filter to the context on the Order of Operations skyscraper, the data is pre-filtered by your dimension first (e.g., State) and then the Top N filter is applied. When the set filter turns gray, you know it’s working.
Notice that the Context Filter box is above the Sets entry; which means that the Context filter is evaluated BEFORE the set. Make sure to watch the video to learn how to limit to the Top 10 cities based upon a hovered state.
Check out the video for details and may all your viz in tooltips be context appropriate!
All views and opinions are solely my own and do NOT necessarily reflect those my employer.
In this video you will learn a quick and easy approach to putting together KPIs that illustrate how profits perform in relation to a budget (i.e., targets vs actuals). Of course the KPIs will be interactive thanks to help from parameters.
Now the dashboard that I built around the KPIs will definitely form the basis of additional videos. There are several techniques here (filtering viz in tooltips, show/hide container, bar in bar chart, reset all filters button, etc.) that form the basis of a good intermediate level dashboard.
Inspiration comes in many forms. I have to give a shoutout to Keith Dykstra for offering his original dashboard for reverse engineering. The idea for the KPIs and bar in bar chart are inspired by Keith. I added additional elements such as the reset all filters button, filtering by states via treemap, parameters in lieu of hover over images.
Shoutout to the Kevin Flerlage for his great PowerPoint button workbook. I modified the on/off toggle button based upon a template from Kevin’s workbook.
Finally, I was watching an Oregon vs UCLA football game one Saturday and was impressed by Oregon’s latest uniform combination. I had to throw that grey and green combination together for use on the dashboard. Inspiration can come from many places! Here’s a little Oregon football and my “Saturday Night Lab” tweet.
Make sure you watch this video to learn and hopefully get inspired yourself!
If you’re interested in KPIs you can check out these other videos:
I’m Tableau certified and with some study time and focus, you can become Tableau certified as well.
As of this year, I can say that I, Anthony B. Smoak passed the Tableau Desktop Certified Associate exam. I already hold the Certified Business Professional (CBIP) designation which is product agnostic and a great certification for a data consultant and data blogger to showcase (apologies for the humblebrag). Read up on my experiences with that certification here.
Although my Tableau certification aim started as a mere whim, it morphed into a full time goal by the time 2020 rolled around. We all know 2020 has been a challenging year for most of us, I’ve tried to do my best to make it redeemable by continuing to learn and up-skill. And because you’re reading this post, my assumption is you are too! Great minds think alike.
Why did I want to pursue the Tableau Desktop Certified Associate certification?
I run a YouTube Channel and blog focused on data tools; Tableau content is the most salient feature of these passion projects. Becoming Tableau Certified helps convince you that I know what I’m talking about.
Clients respect credibility. I recently delivered a data visualization workshop at a well known Fortune 20 company and being certified as well being a Tableau Public Ambassador helped establish my bona fides.
The more you study, the more you learn. It was refreshing to brush up on some basic functionality and even learn some new intermediate tricks while prepping for the exam.
Just like you, I found myself with a bit more time in 2020 to start acting on neglected data goals. When the world shakes off 2020 (please make it stop) and starts getting back to normal, people will ask ‘How did you better yourself during the downtime’. My answer will be Tableau (and fostering a boxer puppy, but that is for another blog post).
As my exam time came about, I logged in to the testing website and my proctor had me share my license to prove that it was indeed me taking the test. I also had to show that my physical table (not in the Tableau context) was clear of any papers or other materials. Once that was clear it was off to the races. Although you will have 2 hours to complete the exam, make sure to account for at least 30 minutes of setup time before you actually start the test.
Of course I don’t remember exact questions and wouldn’t share any even if I did but I do recall thinking that I had a good handle on most of the material. There were only two questions where I was completely stumped and had to take a guess. The test is timed and by the time I finished answering every question, there was only about 10 minutes left to review my 36 answers.
For some of the more esoteric questions on product minutiae, Google is your friend. The test is mostly open internet which can be helpful on these small detail-like questions. But remember, you are balancing Google searching against test answering time.
I did not need to use Google during the hands-on assessment questions. You either need to confidently know how Tableau works or you’ll find yourself playing defense and guessing.
Fun Fact: the Firefox browser on the virtual machine only displayed search results in Japanese (ども ありがと) and it took me awhile to figure out how to set English as the default language.
In short, the test was by no means easy, but with time and adequate preparation you’ll be successful. I’d say a good 7-8 months of Tableau use and 3 to 4 weeks of study time should get you where you need to be.
To prepare for the test, take a look at the official Exam Guide.
However, here is the section you came for, my abridged list of test focus areas.
Using Tableau Public is the best way to get started learning Tableau if you don’t have a Desktop license. Download Tableau Public and practice at home because it’s free to use! The functionality is practically the same as Tableau Desktop, you just have to save your content to the cloud instead of locally.
Practice on this dataset. It is the default dataset (Tableau Superstore) that comes with the licensed version of Tableau, but you can download it from data.world thanks to Tableau Zen Master Ann Jackson.
If you just want to jump right in to dash-boarding you can start with two video series I have in this playlist:
Build a Tableau Dashboard Parts 1-4
Tableau How to Build A Dashboard
Tableau How to Format A Dashboard
Slower Track to learn functionality:
Watch everything in the Creator section except Tableau Prep which is a separate tool.
Context filters in Tableau are a big mystery right? In this video I will demonstrate two examples that will help shed some light on how context filters in Tableau work.
When I was starting to learn Tableau, I had no idea why I would ever need to add a filter to the context. It just didn’t make sense for me, because most of the time, the filter still operated in a manner I expected. Little did I know, I was moving a filter on up, to a deluxe apartment in the sky!
That is because I did not understand Tableau’s order of operations. This understanding is key. The higher the filter is on the official order of operations skyscraper, the more influence it has on all the other filters below it.
When two dimension filters are applied to a visual, they are working independently with access to all rows in the data source without regard to other filters. Eventually the filters decide what values they have in common (i.e., the intersection), and those values are shown on a visual.
But if you change your dimension filter to a context filter, you’ve ensured that any other filters that you set are defined as dependent filters because they process only the data that passes through the context filter.
This concept will be very handy when trying to compute the Top N values. Notice on the order of operations that Top N is located below context filters. That means that the Top N filter will only receive values that have been “pre-filtered” from the context filter.
What’s in it for You?
Per Tableau, use context filters to:
Improve performance – If you set a lot of filters or have a large data source, the queries can be slow. You can set one or more context filters to improve performance.
Create a dependent numerical or Top N filter – You can set a context filter to include only the data of interest, and then set a numerical or a top N filter.
To improve performance of context filters, especially on large data sources, follow these general rules.
Using a single context filter that significantly reduces the size of the data set is much better than applying many context filters.
In fact, if a filter does not reduce the size of the data set by one-tenth or more, it is actually worse to add it to the context because of the performance cost of computing the context.
Still scratching your head? It will all make sense after the video examples. Give it a watch!