Tableau Tile Map Data Project

I was recently inspired by some really great tile-maps that have been created in the Tableau community (e.g., see beautiful work by Chimdi Nwosu and Michael Dunphy). Thus, you know I had to come up with a way to construct a simplified map in this style with some data and share with my followers. In these two videos, I’m going to walk you through how to prepare the necessary data file in Tableau Prep Builder and then we’ll build out the tile-map in the second video, step by step.

This is a good intermediate level portfolio project for you to follow along with in order to increase your Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep skills. We’ll use CDC data, specifically United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State over Time, to build the tile-map.

The advantage of a tile-map is that it represents geographic regions (like states) at equal sizes. Thus, the distortions and biases introduced by differences in sizes are eliminated. In the case of the United States, data for smaller regions like Washington D.C. can be interpreted on equal footing with data for a much larger region like California.

Tableau Prep Builder helps to greatly simply the data shaping process. My only wish is that Tableau would integrate Prep into Tableau Desktop for one seamless data tool to rule them all, but I digress. The process below illustrates how simple it is take some data from an input file, and subsequently clean and pivot the data into a new file. Watch the first video, to learn how to build out this simple flow in Tableau Prep. If you do not have a copy of Tableau Prep, you can complete this lesson on a 14 day trial license of the tool, which you can download here.

Watch the second video for the step by step instructions to build out the tile-map above.

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Anthony B Smoak

Drill from Region to State Using Parameter Actions in Tableau

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]

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!

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All views and opinions are solely my own and do NOT necessarily reflect those of my employer.

Do Great Things with Your Data

Anthony B. Smoak