VizPainter: Tableau Tips and Tricks, Storytelling, and Data Visualization

Welcome!

I started blogging here in May 2014 to share Tableau tips and tricks.  Things have really taken off since then!  I continue to share tips and tricks and I still focus heavily on Tableau – the tool that allows me to have a seamless conversation with data, draw insight, ask questions, and get answers that sometimes initiate action and sometimes deeper questions.

Along the way I’ll also share some broader dataviz lessons and maybe a story or two – possibly some data storytelling and even some stories of my journey in the world of data and data visualization.

Best Regards,
Joshua Milligan

 

Here’s what I have to share…

Visualizing the long road to women’s voting rights in Tableau
Finding the Data Story Who doesn’t love politics?  The latest in the round of IronViz feeders from Tableau features this
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What’s New? Webinars, Tableau 10, second edition of Learning Tableau, and more!
Summer has come in Texas!  School is out. Tableau 10 beta testing is going full steam ahead and the new
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Landmine Diffused!
You may recall a previous post in which I warned of some landmines in using Excel with Tableau.  Well, looks like
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Where Food is Scarce…
Having never previously entered into the Tableau #IronViz feeder contests, I was eager to participate this year. The category of
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Excel and Text File Landmines to Avoid in Tableau
Excel spreadsheets and flat text files can be incredible data sources for Tableau.  They are ubiquitous, easy to use, easy
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Upcoming Webinar: The Fun and Serious Sides of Data Visualization
On March 24, at noon CDT, I’ll be presenting a webinar that looks at the fun and serious sides of
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Tableau is why I see the underlying data that matters most
#TableauIsWhy I see the underlying data that matters most… The dashboard I had been using Tableau for a few years
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Unions in Tableau 9.3: Tips and Tricks
I’ve been participating the beta testing of Tableau 9.3 and I’m loving the innovation the Tableau developers have been bringing
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Tweaking Views in Tableau
In a previous post I shared how even a small tweak to a dataviz can change the perspective of the
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Perspective: How a small dataviz tweak can tell a radically different data story
Is there a single best visualization for a given set of data?  Should you always use a bar chart when
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Partial Period Panic
The Problem of Partial Periods So you built out that incredible Tableau* time series viz showing sales per week or
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Book your Star Wars Vacation with Tableau
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away   Wow! Star Wars and Tableau.  You can’t get much
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The Assignment that Made Me Fall in Love
The Assignment When I was in junior high, my math teacher, Mrs. White gave the class an amazing assignment.  She
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Some Tableau Tips & Options for Box and Whisker
  I recently tweeted that Box and Whisker plots have never been my go to DataViz type. I don’t know
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Games In Tableau – Pushing the Limits with Practical Results
You may not think of Tableau as a game engine, but I’ve used it to create interactive games (such as tic-tac-toe,
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#Data15 Here I come!
It’s time for the Tableau Conference! (a.k.a. #data15 or TC15) If you are going, I look forward to seeing you
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Tableau and Cubes (OLAP)
At some point, I got labeled as a “Tableau cube expert.”  The funny thing is, when I first acquired this
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Let Them have Their Text Tables
“I need you to reproduce this report,” your boss states as he hands you a printout. “And you can use
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Dynamically Set Default Values for Quick Filters in Tableau
Recently, I was helping someone with a Tableau dashboard in which an action from the first view filtered a second
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Star Trek: The Tableau Game
In the 1980s, my dad brought home a Tandy 1000.  I still remember him giving instructions to my mom and
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10 Things you didn’t know about Ad-Hoc Calculations in Tableau 9
Ad-hoc calculations are new in Tableau 9.0.  They’re quite useful.  And they are fun!  There’s so much you can do
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Extending LOD Calcs with Table Calcs
I’ve been following with great interest the discussion in the Tableau community surrounding various approaches to using Level of Detail
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The Journey of Writing a Tableau Book
A few years ago, a colleague of mine sent out an email asking if anyone was interested in serving as
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Life before Tableau 9 Level of Detail Calculations
Over the next few weeks, leading up to the Tableau Think Data Thursday presentation (register now!), I’ll take a look
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Star Trek – To Boldly Tableau
The wait is over!  The game is now online!   You’ve seen Choose Your Own Adventure, Tic Tac Tableau, and
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Dates in Tableau make me want to tear my hair out!
  Actually, it’s not dates in Tableau.  Tableau does wonders with dates!  What other tool allows you to connect to
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Convert Tableau to PowerPoint
Today’s Tableau Tip comes from my colleague, David Baldwin.  I am privilleged to work with him at Teknion Data Solutions, a
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Data Prep and the New Tableau 9 Data Interpreter
The Tableau 9 Data Interpreter and other new data prep options, such as pivot and split, open up new possibilities for
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Tableau Mapping Tip: Geographic Drill Down
Previously,  we saw how to capture and use Tableau’s automatically generated latitude and longitude for custom geocoding.  Now, we’ll extend
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Poor Man’s Custom Geocoding in Tableau (Part 2)
  Last time we looked at a simple way to implement custom geocoding in Tableau using the ability to assign
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One Trick to Hide Titles in Tableau
Sometimes you want to customize titles or even hide titles in Tableau.   When shown on a dashboard, titles will always appear,
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Tableau Tip Tuesday: Poor Man’s Custom Geocoding (Part 1)
  Tableau has outstanding built-in geocoding capabilities.  If you have countries, states, zip codes, congressional districts, statistical areas, etc… in
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Other Favorite New Tableau 9.0 Features
I recently blogged about my favorite Tableau 9.0 feature: LOD Calculations.  This feature really blows open the possibilities for analysis
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Tableau Tip Tuesday: Always Manually Backup Tableau Server Before Upgrading
Last night I upgraded a Tableau Server for one of our clients1.  They weren’t ready to go to 8.3 yet
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My Favorite Tableau 9.0 Feature
Tableau 9.0 has moved from alpha to beta and I’m loving it!  There are many new features to enjoy: Improved calculation
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Tableau Tip Tuesday: Don’t Use Table Calcs
No, not really!  I love table calculations! They are powerful and very useful.  They are one of the best things
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Tableau Tip Tuesday: The First Question to Ask
If you are using Tableau for data analysis, there is one question you really should answer for any data source before
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Tableau Tip Tuesday: Show What Isn’t in the Data
I recently came across this post that highlights the importance of seeing what isn’t in the data: http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/05/visualizing-zero-how-to-show-something-with-nothing/ In Tableau,
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Tableau Christmas Card Mail Merge
I love getting Christmas cards! But sending them can be a chore1. Fortunately, there is Tableau, a sophisticated-yet-intuitive-to-use rapid data
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Dynamic Annotations (Part 3)
Often, there is no “right” way to accomplish something in Tableau. There are often many ways to approach a solution.
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Honored and Humbled – Becoming a Tableau Zen Master
First, I need to say I have the best co-workers.  They are colleagues and friends.  This was on my desk
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Blackjack! (Tableau deals)
Can’t wait for the Tableau conference next week year? How about playing a game of blackjack against Tableau in the
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The Story of the Second Punic War
I love history, but I find it difficult to remember all the details. That’s mostly the way it’s taught and
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Creating Tic Tac Tableau Part 2: 5 Million Records – Really?
If you missed them, see the original Tic Tac Toe Dashboard and Part 1 first. Chris Love asked if it
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Creating Tic Tac Tableau Part 1: Generating the Data
Once I had the idea of creating a dashboard to play Tic Tac Toe against Tableau, I had to come
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Prevent Global Thermonuclear War: Play Tic Tac Toe with Tableau!
Ever since Noah Salvaterra raised the possibility that Tableau could become self aware, I’ve been unable to sleep. The thought
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Choose Your Own Adventure! Pushing the limits with Tableau
I used to read Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a child and I always wanted to write
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3 Easy Tableau Tips for Confident, Clean-Shaven Maps
Wow! Tableau Tips Month is almost over and I almost missed it! (Or maybe I was just early with this
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It’s Greek to Me (Literally): Textual Analysis in Tableau
By day, I design Tableau dashboards for clients. This means I’m often creating financial dashboards (some of these are mine),
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1 Easy Trick to get Clustered Bar Charts
What’s the difference between the two bar views below?     Both bar graphs were created relatively easily in Tableau.
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What Color of Uniform Should I Wear Today?
The term redshirt has come to mean any stock character who is introduced in an episode only to be killed
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Sheet Selection on Steroids
Sheet swapping or sheet selection is a technique used to switch out views in a dashboard. The basics approach for
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Slicing by Aggregate
Update: These options are good if you are using Tableau 8.3 or earlier.  But if you’re using 9.0 or later,
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The Joy of Viz Painting
I recently submitted a couple of 3 minute win entries (I should have blogged about it – wow I’m behind!)
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Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in Tableau
I was asked recently to do a small research project recently into why Tableau wasn’t recognizing certain MSAs (metropolitan statistical
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Google Analytics in Tableau: Blending Data From Multiple Accounts
The Tableau Google Analytics connection only supports one account.  What if you track multiple websites and you want to be
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Random Numbers (Even with Extracts)
  Ever wish you could use random numbers in Tableau?  Of course, when you are connected to a data source
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Dynamic Annotations (Part 2)
Edit – This post describes one approach. But, it turns out, there is an easier way: Dynamic Annotations (Part 3)
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Dynamic Annotations (Part 1)
Edit – This post describes one approach. But, it turns out, there is an easier way: Dynamic Annotations (Part 3)
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Mapping Distances – An Alternate Approach
The Issue A common technique for calculating distances in Tableau is to use a custom SQL statement to join a
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4 Responsesso far.

  1. Kary Tran says:

    Hello Joshua,

    I was at the User Group where you did the demo Games in Tableau at Teknion. Towards the end, you show a dashboard of Rep sales, I believe, with links to another dashboard. I remember you mentioning that you will have that on your website, but I cannot find it. Can I download it? If so, would you be able to send me a link to that dashboard?

    Thanks,
    Kary Tran

  2. Rangarajan says:

    Sir,
    This site is full of useful tips and thanking for the same. I want to learn more about the chart types that are appropriate in a storyboard. if there is any writeup here, please lead me to that.
    Thanks
    –Rangarajan

  3. pavan says:

    Hi All,

    My question is around, how can we set/change the default shape directory.

    I am currently working on to set an org structure for a company. The scenario is that people keep joining the company and I want Tableau to pick a default image in the org structure instead of default available shapes (circle, square, plus, etc).

    You can see the snapshot of the dashboard, where I do not have the image for resource3 and Tableau picked + automatically. P.S.: the above snapshot is sanitized and I used gender icons for the image instead.

    Please help me figure out either, how to add an image as default in the default folder and location of the default folder? or how can I set a different folder as default?

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