We have the AFL data for our last day in the Dashboard week. It has the data of win or lose for each game in the last ten years, which make this dataset a perfect use case for a curved timeline chart. So let’s have a look of the finished dashboard first.

The dashboard has a simple design purpose, which is to compare the stats of the winning and the losing team played in each Grand Finals.So the left part of the dashboard is a timeline which shows the winning team for each Grand Final game in the past ten years. Next I will talk a little about the ways and tips to build this.

  • The Template

The most popular and powerful template for a curved timeline chart would be the one from the Flerlage Twins. You can find their detailed post explaining how it works here. The link to the template Tableau workbook and Excel data file can also be found in their post. Thank you the Flerlage Twins.

  • Tips for using the Template to build your own curved timeline charts

After downloading the template workbook and the data file, you can either import the workbook into your own, or just use this workbook as the primary one and add in any other charts you need.

Based on the timeline chart from my dashboard, I’ll explain some tips about how to build this below.

1.Things don’t need to worry about

All the calculations and the desification setting of the curved line, we don’t need to worry about them. But if you are interested, you can read through the post from the Twins to understand how it works behind the scene. Next are the things we need to take care of by ourselves.

2. Setting the years

The first step to successfully build a curved timeline is to setup the correct years’ range in the “Years” data source. The number of years in the “Years” tab determines how many event nodes shown on the timeline, combined with the setting of the “Years Per Row” parameter, the layout of the timeline will be configured.

Using my dashboard as an example, I want to show the winning teams for ten years plus two extra nodes to show start and end, which makes twelve nodes on the timeline in total. These twelve nodes will be shown in four rows with three in each row.

Then I need to adjust the range of the years in “Years” tab, leaving only twelve rows of data. Doesn’t matter which twelve years I keep in the data, just make sure the first year is a multiple of 3. This will guarantee that three year nodes a row when I setup the parameter accordingly.

3. Setting up the events

After doing the above settings, the timeline will look like this already.

The next step will be adding additional columns into the “Years” data tab to provide us the ability to set the nodes now shown as the white circles. To do this, I add three additional columns.

  • Type of the nodes. In my example, there are two types. One for winning teams and one for start and end nodes. Can just use strings to identify the different types.
  • Actual year value. In my example, the starting year is 2012, but I can’t use this in the “Year” column because it’s not a multiple of 3. So I add in another column to put in these actual year values.
  • Event names. In my example, these are the name of each winning teams.
4. Configuring the nodes

With all these additional data, I can configure the nodes by applying different shapes and different sizes. I can also set up dynamic tooltips to show informations regarding each winning teams.  The last thing will be tweaking the line with sizing and colouring. Then I got this beautiful curved timeline chart to show each Grand Final winning team for the past ten years.


Hope you find this useful and can build your own curved timeline chart following these tips.

Thanks to the Flerlage Twins again for sharing this template.




The Data School
Author: The Data School