Practical Tableau: How to Create Icon-Based Navigation or Filters

This chapter is excerpted from Practical Tableau: 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen Master published by O’Reilly Media Inc., 2016, ISBN: 978-1-4919-7724-8. Shop for Practical Tableau.

In the second of two chapters related to the Odds of Going Pro visualization, I will show you how to install custom shapes and use the images to filter and navigate dashboards in Tableau. See the first chapter about this visualization, how to make funnel charts in Tableau, for a detailed explanation on how to make the chart pictured in the visualization below.

Let’s again start by looking at the original Tableau Public workbook:

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How to Make Your New Favorite Tableau Date Comparison Filters

Dates can be tricky to work with in Tableau, particularly if you’re wanting to compare the performance of a metric during a selected date range to the performance of the same metric over a comparison date range (i.e. previous year). The reason this becomes challenging is that if you use an out-of-the-box Tableau date filter, selecting one date range will filter out the comparison date range.

An alternative approach would be to extend the selections in the date filter so that both the current date range in question and the comparison date range are represented, but then the marks wouldn’t be lined up on the same axis. This approach would make it challenging to do direct period over period analysis because the date equivalents would not be lined up for quick comparison.

This post uses the Super Sample Superstore dashboard to provide a step-by-step tutorial for creating my go-to approach to creating date comparison filters in Tableau. This tutorial will show you how to compare a selected date range to either the date range immediately preceding the selection or the same date range one year ago. The best part about this approach is that it normalizes the selected date range and the comparison date range so that they are on the same axis for easy analysis.

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Tablueprint 3: Super Bowl Margins of Victory

Tablueprints is a series where I share how to make my Tableau data visualizations. If you would like updates on future posts, be sure to subscribe. I will only email when I have something new to share and I will not share your email with anyone.

In this installment, I share:

– How to make Tableau dumbbell charts / DNA charts
– How to use parameters to change the sort order
– How to use parameters to toggle normalization on and off
– How to use dashboard actions to highlight a view
– How to provide instructions using tooltips

For this Tablueprint, we will be rebuilding Super Bowl Margins of Victory.

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3 Ways to Make Lovely Line Graphs in Tableau

Due to the popularity of 3 Ways to Make Beautiful Bar Charts in Tableau, I’ve decided to follow it up with some ideas for making your line graphs more engaging in Tableau. Line graphs are a close second to bar charts as my favorite fundamental visualization type and are the obvious choice for evaluating trends over time.

Like bar charts, the invention of line graphs is generally credited to William Playfair at the end of the 18th century. Also like bar charts, I blame their age and people’s familiarity with line graphs as the reason some data visualization enthusiasts look for “more engaging” choices. Line graphs have stood the test of time and their effectiveness cannot be denied. I’m hoping that these three approaches help cement line graphs as a top choice for your Tableau data visualizations.

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3 Ways to Make Beautiful Bar Charts in Tableau

When it comes to data visualization, bar charts are still king. With all due respect to my other favorite fundamental chart types such as line graphs and scatter plots, nothing has the flexibility, ease of use, and ease of understanding, as the classic bar chart. Used to compare values of categorical data, bar charts work well because they take advantage of a basic preattentive attribute: length. Our ability to process the length of bars with extreme efficiency and accuracy makes the bar chart arguably the most powerful data visualization choice available to us.

The invention of the bar chart is credited to William Playfair, with his Exports and Imports of Scotland to and from different parts for one Year from Christmas 1780 to Christmas 1781 being the first appearance. Extraordinarily long and descriptive titles aside, bar charts have been making an impact for a long time. In fact, I hypothesize that the fact bar charts have been around for so long is one of the reasons some attempt to find a “more engaging” chart type to tell their data story.

This post attempts to add some love for bar charts by sharing three ways to make them more engaging in Tableau.

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