Animation in Tableau is mainly used for analyzing seasonal trends or simply placing measures over a period. Using time series such as months, days, and minutes will give you the ability to set each interval as an individual page. A motion chart, as its name suggests, is a chart that displays the entire trail of changes in data over time by showing movement using the X and Y-axes.

It is very much similar to the doodles in our notebooks which seem to come to life after flipping through the pages. It is amazing to see the same kind of movement in action in Tableau using the Pages shelf. It is work that feels like play. On the Pages shelf, when you drop a field, Tableau creates a sequence of pages that filters the view for each value in that field.

This blog is an effort to recreate the visual story shown by Hans Rosling in his memorable and highly popular 2006 TED talk. One can see the original visualization created by Hans Rosling and his team here.

We need the following data sets for this exercise. All the data is taken from data.worldbank.org
• Country-Metadata
• Country-Population
• Fertility-Rate
• Life-Expectancy-At-Birth

Let’s follow the following steps to make the visualisation-

Connecting to Data Sources and Editing Blending Relationships

1. Connect to Country-Metadata excel file and we will use it for Regions information.

2. Connect to Country-Population file. Select all the years, drop down and select pivot. Rename the Pivot Field Names to Year and Pivot Field Values to Population.

3. Connect to new data source Fertility-Rate, select all the Years and Pivot. Rename the fields.

4. Connect to Life-Expectancy-At-Birth.xls file and repeat the steps.

5. For Blending data sets, drop down Data Tab and select Edit Relationships. Select one of the data set as Primary data Source. Taking Country Population as a primary data source. Remove Indicator Code and Indicator Name field from blending relationships as those are file specific. Also, remove the Country Name as the country code is enough to blend the data. Repeat the same with the rest of the files. For Metadata only blend by Country Code as year field is not there.

Building the Visualisation

1. Take primary data source and drag population to size.

2. Take next data source Fertility-Rate and initiate the blends. Drag Fertility Rate to Columns.


3. Take Life Expectancy at Birth and initiate the blend again. Drag Life Expectancy at birth to Rows.

4. For Metadata Countries data source, initiate a relationship and drag Region to colour.

5. Go to the primary data source and drag country names to detail.

6. Drag years in filters and select any one year.

7. Change Automatic Shape to filled circle and adjust the size.

8. Adjust Transparency to 75% and give a light border to circles.

Adding Animation

1. Remove Year from the filter. Drag Years to Pages Shelf which shows a timeline showing a series of years.

2. Select speed to view the animation.

3. Edit Axis so that bubbles fit better.

4. Hide indicator as Life Expectancy at Birth is not available for some countries.

5. Add annotation with Page Name towards the right top.

6. Put the sheet on the dashboard.

7. Go to Format, workbook theme and choose Classic to give Dashboard a classic look.