As a consultant, I have come across several occasions when my partners needed the ability to display their Tableau dashboard in multiple languages. For example, I’ve worked with a non-profit organization serving children in South America. The company’s offices are in the US and most employees speak English, but their field workers are in South America where Spanish and Portuguese are the primary languages. I also recently gave a presentation in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where they have a similar challenge of needing to display English to some users, but French to others. I was even asked if it’s possible to create a bilingual dashboard in Tableau. According to Tableau, their software has been localized to Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, (Brazilian) Portuguese, and Spanish. This means that navigation options will be translated, dates will show up in the appropriate format, and currency will have local formatting. What this post will show you is how to design entire dashboards in two (or more) different languages and allow your end users to choose which language is displayed throughout a workbook.
To draw a highlight table in Tableau, you need one or more dimensions and exactly one measure. This is the same criteria to draw a raw text table in Tableau, except with highlight tables, you’re limited to one measure instead of one or more measures. This one measure is what encodes the cells in the table by the preattentive attribute of color. It’s essentially a spreadsheet with colored cells. As I shared in my post, Why do you visualize data?, the highlight table is my favorite chart type for introducing the value of data visualization. I think it works well because most companies are still using spreadsheets for most of their reporting, and by converting a text table to a highlight table, the audience is forced to take advantage of the preattentive attribute of color. This kind of becomes a gateway to more complex visualizations. Highlight tables are already more engaging and effective than a text table / crosstab view, but this post aims to provide three more ways to make your highlight tables even better in Tableau.
In my post, Why do you visualize data?, I share my personal exercise for illustrating the benefits of data visualization. I first show a raw crosstab of data – similar to what most corporate reports still look like today – and ask the audience to answer the basic business question of identifying the highest or lowest number in the table. I then convert the crosstab to a highlight table by introducing the preattentive attribute of color, which reduces the time to insight, increases the accuracy of insights, and improves engagement. In the exercise, I take the highlight table a step further by only coloring the highest and lowest number in the view, further reducing the time to insight and increasing the accuracy of insights. This post shows you how to highlight the highest data point and lowest data point on a view using table calculations. This is as much about sharing some technical know how as it is about introducing the important concept of using Tableau to answer business questions automatically for you.
Okay - I thought I was done with the Tableau user interface tips series, but I’ve got a bonus tip for you. As is often the case, new client requirements inspire new approaches that are made possible through Tableau’s flexibility. While I was writing the five posts in the UI series, a need came up to create a navigation that doubles as a color legend. You can set up color legends to highlight dimension members, but this navigation needed to filter. A filter alone wouldn’t work because filters don’t include color encoding. So let’s combine the two using a highlight table and dashboard actions! This approach provides several benefits including (1) formatting flexibility (2) improved dashboard processing time and (3) a better user experience. If you are familiar with this technique, you likely know that the Square mark type can limit your ability to make nice, evenly-sized squares that fill all the available space in each cell of the highlight table. This tutorial shows you a trick for getting around that too – producing perfect rectangles every time!
This is the fifth and final post in a series about improving the user interface of your Tableau workbooks. For earlier installments, see tutorials on top navigation, alert-style splash page, menus, and passing filters or parameters. I have to admit that I have yet to use Tableau’s story points feature in any of my consulting engagements. The spirit of the feature is great, and when it was released I was excited by the prospect of replacing PowerPoint to share my data stories. But the reason I don’t personally use story points stems from my point of view that getting the point across in the first screen is your best chance at causing an impact. I believe that most users simply will not click through multiple pages to figure out what you’re trying to tell them. That being said, I also believe in providing context / set-up for dashboards and - as you’ve seen in the prior posts in this series – strategically breaking up views into their own dashboards and/or workbooks. This post shows you how to make a variation of story points to introduce a dashboard and improve the chances of your end user flipping through interior workbook pages.