Welcome to the digital world of McDonald’s, where the menu isn’t just a list of items, but an interactive Tableau dashboard that responds to your touch. This scenario isn’t just a play of technology; it’s a showcase of the strategic choice between using parameters or sets in Tableau. As we explore this choice, we’ll see how it influences the ease and effectiveness of your ordering process.


Efficiency in Tableau: Sets vs Parameters in a McDonald’s Menu Dashboard

Imagine stepping into a digital McDonald’s, where a Tableau-powered menu awaits your selections. This isn’t just a regular menu; it’s a carefully designed interactive experience. The core of this experience hinges on a critical decision in Tableau – should we use parameters or sets to create this menu? As we explore this question, think of how each choice affects the ease and enjoyment of your ordering process. Here’s a deep dive into how these two methods compare in a real-world scenario, focusing on creating a user-friendly and efficient menu system.


Parameters: Precision with a Price

The Essence of Parameters

Parameters in Tableau are like precision tools, think of them as magic buttons. They let you make specific choices, such as selecting a particular burger or drink. They’re flexible and can be customized in many ways to fit your exact needs.

Parameters in the McDonald’s Menu Dashboard

Using parameters, we could craft a menu where each item is a distinct choice. This approach is perfect for detailed, specific selections. However, there’s an important consideration: using parameters often means creating more formulas and LODS. This can lead to more worksheets and a more complex setup process.

The Good and the Not-So-Good

Good Points: You get precise control, which means you can tailor the menu to your exact liking.

Not-So-Good Points: Managing a big menu with lots of items can get a bit tricky, and adding new items means extra updating work.

Sets: The Path to Simplification

The Power of Sets

Sets in Tableau work like smart, self-organizing groups. They automatically categorize items, such as grouping all burgers or drinks together. This method simplifies handling a large and diverse menu.

Sets at Work in the McDonald’s Menu

For our McDonald’s menu, sets grouped items neatly, making it easier to browse and choose. This method was less hassle, especially with changes to the menu.

The Good and the Better

Good Points: Easier to manage, especially with frequent menu updates or changes. Less hassle with a dynamic and diverse menu.

Better Points: Sets reduce the need for complex formulas and additional workbooks, making the overall design and maintenance process more straightforward. 

The Role of Actions in Both Scenarios

Whether using parameters or sets, actions in Tableau play a crucial role. They are the triggers that make the dashboard interactive, responding to user selections and inputs. Actions are essential in both scenarios to ensure that the dashboard is not just a static display but an interactive experience that engages the user. 


Efficiency Comparison

Ease of Use and Maintenance: Sets are the clear winner for their simplicity and adaptability. They require less complex backend setup, making them ideal for menus that need regular updates.

Flexibility and Detail: Parameters provide a higher level of detail and customization but at the cost of increased complexity in setup and maintenance.

Overall User Experience: For a user-friendly experience that’s easy to update and manage, sets offer a smoother and more efficient approach.



In our McDonald’s Tableau dashboard, the use of sets proved to be more efficient and user-friendly, especially considering the reduced complexity in backend setup and action integration. Parameters, with their detailed customization capabilities, are ideal for more complex scenarios but require a more intricate setup, including the integration of actions.

Choosing between sets and parameters in Tableau, therefore, depends on your project’s needs. For straightforward, easy-to-update interfaces, sets are the way to go. But if you’re looking for detailed customization and don’t mind the extra setup, parameters with well-thought-out actions will serve you best. In the end, it’s about creating an experience that’s as enjoyable and efficient as picking your favorite meal at McDonald’s.


In a nutshell, Key Differences Between Set and Parameter Actions


Data Source Compatibility

Single Data Source: Both Set and Parameter Actions are suitable.
Multiple Data Sources: Parameter Actions are your go-to choice.

Handling Fields

Single Field: Either action works well.
Multiple Fields: Opt for Parameter Actions.

Value Types in Actions

Discrete Values: Both actions are compatible.
Continuous Values: Parameter Actions are necessary.

Triggering the Action

Single or Multi-Selections: Both can handle these, but they differ in processing the selected values.

Visual Impact in Data Visualization

Modifying Visual Elements: Both actions can alter colour, size, or shape in visualizations.
Simplicity vs. Complexity: Set Actions are simpler for discrete values, while Parameter Actions shine for continuous fields or relative measures.


Rodrigo Diaz
Author: Rodrigo Diaz

I'm Rodrigo from Mexico, and I am passionate about learning and career growth. I hold a law degree, a master's in business management, and a diploma in civil construction design. My expertise is in starting businesses and product design. I've worked in agriculture, IT, and the public sector, gaining insights into business operations. Outside work, I'm an avid golfer and enjoy spending time with my family, especially sharing experiences with my daughter.