In the world of data visualization, maps are a powerful tool. They can add a layer of understanding and context that numbers alone can’t provide. But sometimes excessive geographic information can dilute the dashboard information, people might focus too much on map instead of the insight behind dashboard. This is where custom maps take into place.

Initially, I thought hex-tile maps were just a variation of the world map. However, I found that they were designed to eliminate the Alaska effect in the United States. This means that a hex-tile map might not necessarily fit my requirements. So, I found myself typing another “how to” question into Google search.

Inspired by Toan Hoang Hex Maps in Tableau – Toan Hoang, I was able to follow the steps to unleash the potential of map visualization in Tableau by using JSON data.

 

Step 1: Setting Up Map Configuration

 

First, head over to pixelmap.amcharts.com and set up your configuration. You can choose any country or region in the world and select the shape of your tiles from round, square, rhombus, and hex-tile options. In this case, I chose Australia. Once you click “generate pixel map”, you’ll see your custom map come to life.

 

By click generate pixel map, you can see:

 

 

Step 2: Extracting the Data

 

Next, click the HTML button and open the HTML file in any editor you like. I’m using VScode for this. Locate the images array and copy them into a text file, then convert it into JSON format.

 

 

Step 3. Loading the JSON File into Tableau

 

Now, it’s time to load your JSON file into Tableau. Select the JSON file in the Connect menu and ensure the image is checked. Under the connection, choose Extract. In the worksheet, extract the data and save the hyper file.

 

 

Step 4. Visualizing the Data

 

Finally, convert the longitude and latitude data as dimensions and drag them into columns and rows. You can change the size and shape of your data points, and even import custom shapes. Set the washout to 100%.

 

 

Use case of world map:

 

Where I use custom world map to showcase the global medal distribution of Tokyo Olympics.

TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020 | Tableau Public

 

Pujiang Zhang
Author: Pujiang Zhang

A recent graduate with a Master of Information Technology from the Queensland University of Technology with a literature background in digital media. My academic journey has fueled my passion for making informed decisions through data analysis, and I'm fascinated by the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and its societal impacts. Beyond the world of data, I find joy in activities like jogging and swimming. I also have a strong interstate in philosophy and history, dedicating my spare time to exploring the depths of these subjects.