You have an amazing idea for a viz, you have the data, and you have Tableau – drag and drop relevant fields into rows & columns and spruce it up with some colour and details right?

Well… Yes… But no?

It can be even easier than that.

As a trail blazer in self-serve data analytics, Tableau provides an elegant solution to communicate and interact with your data via visualization. This elegance is defined by the ability to turn your data into anything and everything: tables, bars, pies, donuts, plots, colours, sizes, maps – you name it, Tableau will find a way.

Are we talking about desserts or chart types?

The key phrase here being that Tableau will find a way. The tableau interface is designed to let the user play tug-of-war with the software and find a balance between ease and precision – between what Tableau thinks will look great and what the user thinks will look great. At first, this may not sound ideal, but is an invaluable tool to the user. With aesthetics informed by Tableau’s VizQL (read here for more on that!) you can view your own data with new eyes and may end up making its way to your final dashboard!

VizQL in action

The long and the short of it is that dragging and dropping is user-driven and allows complete control over how the visualization takes shape through a series of formatting options. Double clicking is Tableau-driven and leverages VizQL to inform how the data should theoretically look like. While it may not be perfect – oftentimes Tableau will format all the small details and get everything in line for the user to tweak into perfection.

Blue – Dimensions, Green – Measures, Orange – Marks, Grey – Dates

 

Text table

1.       Double click a dimension to create a basic text table

2.       Double click either a dimension or measure to place values into table

Bars 1.       Double click a measure and then a dimension to create bars
Stacked bars 1.       Double click a measure and then a dimension to create bars

2.       Drag a dimension to colour on the marks card

Side-by-side bars 1.       Add a measure and then a dimension to create bars

2.       Drag a second measure to the y-axis

Line 1.       Double click a measure and then a date
Continuous line 1.       Add a measure then a continuous date*
Scatterplot 1.       Double-click a measure then a different measure
Map (points) 1.       Double click any geographic dimension (symbol is a world)

2.       Double click a measure to create different sized points on the map

Map (filled) 1.       Double click any geographic dimension (symbol is a world)

2.       Drag a dimension or measure to colour on the marks card

*Right-click & drag your date to the columns bar to choose whether the date is discrete or continuous

 

Basic examples of Tableau visualisations using Superstore sample data

Also… Double clicking your sheet names when placing your dashboards is a great way to tile without fear of disturbing your pixels! Check out the picture below to figure out whether it can help you line up the perfect dashboard.

Don’t feel that you have to memorise this all… Just keep in mind that if you’re dragging and dropping and it’s just not working, try double clicking your important fields and see what Tableau pulls out of the bag! You might be pleasantly surprised ?