ryansleeper

About Ryan Sleeper

Ryan Sleeper is founder and principal of Playfair Data. He is a data visualization designer, author, speaker, trainer, and consultant specializing in Tableau. Ryan is a current Tableau Zen Master, 2013 Tableau Iron Viz Champion, author of the 2015 Tableau Public Visualization of the Year, and author of Practical Tableau (O'Reilly).

3 More Ways to Overcome the Excel Barrier to Tableau Adoption

3 More Ways to Overcome the Excel Barrier to Tableau Adoption FeatureYikes – I’m getting old in Tableau years. This week I clicked on a Tableau Public post I thought sounded interesting: 3 Tips to Overcoming the Excel Barrier to Tableau Adoption. Wow, I thought, the Tableau Public team is so in tune, and that sounds just like something I would say. Interested to hear their take, I clicked on the article to discover I had wrote it in May of 2016! Ah, May 2016. A time before I started Playfair Data, my Twitter handle was @OSMGuy, and the Kansas City Royals were defending World Series Champions.

I also had an epiphany. I thought back to all the posts I’ve shared and presentations I’ve delivered in hopes of evangelizing moving business users from a spreadsheet mentality to data visualization. What I realized is: this is just as relevant as ever. Now ten years into my career, my primary challenge remains convincing my stakeholders to leave the comfort of Excel behind for the value of self-service analytics and data visualization that Tableau thrives at. Something so seemingly obvious that has technically been available since William Playfair conjured up the bar chart and line graph in 1786, but which so few companies are doing well.

This post shares three more specific tactics for smoothing the transition from text tables to data visualization. We’ll start with the ‘gateway’ chart, the highlight table, learn how to leverage Viz in Tooltip to display trends or comparisons within crosstab cells, and I’ll share a hack for allowing your users to toggle between a text table and a data visualization. We’ve led the horse to water; now we’re going to give them a loving nudge in.

By | 2019-02-12T12:53:33+00:00 February 12th, 2019|Tableau Tips, Thoughts|

How to Compare the Last Two Partial Weeks, Months, Quarters, or Years in Tableau

Compare Last Two Partial Date Parts in Tableau FeatureThis post shows you how to automatically isolate the last two partial date ranges so you can compare an equal number of days period over period. Last week I showed you how to compare the last two complete date periods in Tableau, but sometimes you want the comparison to be even more current. For example, you may want to compare this week to last week even if the week is not yet complete instead of comparing the last full week to the full week from two weeks ago.

The benefit to this is timelier analysis, but you can often end up with an ‘apples to oranges’ comparison. For example, if it’s Wednesday this week and you try to create a week over week analysis, you can end up comparing the 3 days from this week to all 7 days from last week. The tricky part to creating a true partial period over period analysis is you need to calculate the number of days in the current range and then cap the last full date range at that same number.

This post shares the formulas needed to automatically create a partial period over period analysis so that both periods – whether you’re using weeks, months, quarters, or years – contain an equal number of days.

By | 2019-02-05T13:16:54+00:00 February 5th, 2019|Tableau Tips|

How to Compare the Last Two Full Days, Weeks, or Months in Tableau

Compare Last Two Full Date Parts in Tableau FeatureThis post aims to help you harness dates in Tableau to create powerful comparisons in your dashboards. You will learn how to isolate the last two full reporting periods – whether they be days, weeks, months, quarters, or years – so can compare the last complete date part to the date part preceding it (i.e. last week compared to the week before). The calculations shared in this post can be used as a foundation to: (1) create period over period percent or index changes, (2) filter your dashboards to only the most recent dates, and (3) normalize the dates so they overlap on the same axis. While there is almost always more than one way to do the same thing in Tableau, I’ve attempted to provide an easy-to-execute solution that also processes efficiently. As such, this approach allows you to compare the last two complete date parts without the use of level of detail calculations or table calculations. I owe a big thank you to Playfair Data partner consultant, Rody Zakovich, as he collaborated with me on this post to make the calculations even more elegant than my original idea.

By | 2019-01-29T12:19:11+00:00 January 29th, 2019|Tableau Tips|

Dashboard Gauge 5: How to Make Indicators with Custom Shape Palettes

How to make gauges with custom shape palettes in Tableau FeatureThis is the fifth and final post in a series on dashboard gauges in Tableau. To this point, we’ve covered bullet graphs, rounded gauges, custom background images, and ‘stock ticker’ gauges. For this final installment, we’ll have some fun and use custom shapes that dynamically change based on performance. Like the stock ticker gauge, most shapes are not the best choice for visualizing magnitude, but just like sometimes when you need something other than a bar chart, sometimes you need a gauge other than a bullet graph. I like the custom shape indicators I’m sharing because they: (1) immediately and intuitively convey performance, (2) have a minimalist design, and (3) provide a starting point that can be linked to deeper analysis. This post will show you how to: (1) find and format custom shapes for your dashboard, (2) install those shapes in your Tableau Repository so you can map them to your data, (3) write a calculation to dynamically change the shape being displayed based on performance, and (4) use dashboard actions and/or the viz in tooltip feature to link to deeper analysis.

By | 2019-01-15T13:25:20+00:00 January 15th, 2019|Tableau Chart Types, Tableau Tips|

Dashboard Gauge 4: How to Make a ‘Stock Ticker’ in Tableau

How to Make a Stock Ticker Gauge in Tableau FeatureThis is the fourth in a five-part series on dashboard gauges in Tableau. For future updates, subscribe to my mailing list. The next gauge I will show you how to build in Tableau was inspired by the stock tickers seen on major news networks and stock portfolio apps. The visualization typically features the positive or negative change of a stock or index, preceded by an up or down colored triangle, and are occasionally enclosed by a colored rectangle to reinforce the change. You may not initially think of this as a gauge, but in this series, gauges are defined as chart types that show progress to a goal or comparison point. While stock tickers aren’t the best choice for visualizing the magnitude of a change, I like them because they: (1) clearly indicate a positive or negative performance (2) have a minimalist design (3) are encoded by both color and shape; an approach to double-encoding that is colorblind friendly. If you’re looking to try a slightly different approach, the stock ticker gauge is a good alternative to callout numbers across the top of your dashboards. This post will show you how to use Gantt charts in a unique way and the up (▲) and down (▼) alt code characters to create a ‘stock ticker’ in Tableau.

By | 2019-01-08T14:12:37+00:00 January 8th, 2019|Tableau Chart Types, Tableau Tips|