Challenge background

It is already the 3rd day of the Dashboard Week, cannot believe how time have passed this fast. With back to back and almost endless challenges and presentation, our task today is to build a dashboard in Tableau with NSW Public Library data.


The data source

The data can be accessed here.

so there are about 50 sheets within each year’s Excel data.


Summary for the day

As usual we were given task descriptions at 9AM. Usually we will present our dashboard that was made yesterday first thing in the morning then jump right into the new challenge for the day.

Anyway I downloaded Excel data for every year, and had a look through all the different sheets to see which ones I am going to keep for my analysis. I settled on about 12 different tables. Because for some reason I believe more data equates to more story. Among the dashboards I made previously, a story was generally lacking, that is why this time I was going all out to start planning for the desired dataset early, and I was trying to get as much data as possible.

Then I decided to use an Alteryx Batch Macro to retrieve the data for each year for the sheets I needed. That is when things start to get terrible… I spend an entire morning building out the workflow to clean the data, then convert the workflow into a Batch Macro so I can automate the process of joining data for multiple years. Well, that did NOT happen the way I expected it to. I kept running into errors, and I could not figure out how to fix it.

Soon I fixed the issue with Macro, so it was working fine. But that was just the beginning…

I ran the Macro and ready to get all the data but it did not work this time, no way I thought to myself, upon more detailed inspection on the data, I realise that the name convention and data structure was different between the more recent ones and older ones. So there is no way my Macro can work. By the end of the day all I had is 7 tables from one year and a busted Macro that is never going to work.

I nearly gave up, I was ready to do challenge myself to create a better dashboard than yesterday, but I simply could not do anything with the data I have.

I was ready to have nothing to be presented tomorrow, maybe write a blog and just show I have done something, and prepared to be murdered by Beth tomorrow.

But then I had a chat with Shane, he calmed me down and gave me some nice advice. It gave me the strength to power through.


Tips from Shane

  1. Get to your own goal, don’t compare yourself to others
  2. Get out of Alteryx as soon as you can, if you did not start playing with the data by mid-day in Tableau, you are too late
  3. If you hit a roadblock, take a break, do whatever makes you relax for 45 mins. When you come back your body and mind will be refreshed and good ideas will come



The dashboard

This is the dashboard I made with the limited time and data I have. It is not my proudest work, but at least I have something to show.

John Lyu
Author: John Lyu

John is deeply passionate about data and firmly believes in its transformative power, especially in areas like Machine Learning, Data-Centric AI (DCAI), and Storytelling with data. He is extremely excited about opportunities to test his knowledge and expand his industry insights, such as Kaggle competitions and visualization contests. John thrives on collaboration, enjoying the experience of working alongside talented colleagues and learning from their expertise. In his free time, John enjoys playing basketball, hitting the gym, and hanging out with friends. He is also a trading card collector. He enjoys making new friends, so be sure to come and say hi.