VizPainter: Tableau Tips and Tricks, Storytelling, and Data Visualization
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.
Here’s what I have to share…
Hex Map Spatial File
I love hex maps! Especially for the United States, you can keep states in a basic geographic orientation, but eliminateRead more.
Have a Maestro Christmas and Tableau New Year!
Tableau’s new data prep tool, Maestro, is now in public beta, and I’m loving it! While the first beta doesn’tRead more.
Hot Swapping Geographic Levels of Detail in a Tableau Viz
I used to think you couldn’t hot-swap geographic levels of detail in a Tableau visualization. And, before Tableau 10,Read more.
The Need for Speed: How to build Tableau visualizations quickly
I recently competed in the Tableau Iron Viz where Tristian Guillevin, Jacob Olsufka and I raced to build a dashboardRead more.
Tableau, you sunk my Battleship!
Ah, games and Tableau – two of my favorite things together! And it isn’t all just about fun and games, it’s aboutRead more.
Don’t miss the miracle of Tableau: It’s more than just DataViz!
I was part of a conversation recently where something like this was said: “We need a data model that willRead more.
Reshaping your data right in Tableau: Materialized Path Hierarchies
I recently came across this post by Simona Loffredo in which she describes a certain type of data structure, whyRead more.
Design technique for Tableau dashboards: semi-transparent images
Wow! I’m still stunned to have won the first IronViz feeder contest for 2017! And excited! And humbled. And honored.Read more.
The Changing Shape of History: From the Colonies to the United States
I previously shared the fun I had with Tableau 10.2’s ability to connect to spatial files. In that case, I used historicRead more.
Storytelling with Data Visualization
Recently, I gave a presentation on storytelling with data visualization. I described the elements of a story, how to leverageRead more.
4 Dangers to Avoid in Data Storytelling
Stories are powerful. They connect an audience with people, facts, emotions and action. They help us understand difficult concepts andRead more.
Navigating Hierarchies in Tableau using Self Updating Actions
The Tableau technique shown here is to use an action to update an entire dashboard, including the filter selection andRead more.
Fun with spatial files in Tableau 10.2
Tableau 10.2 is almost here! And it’s time to celebrate! One thing I’ve always wanted to do in Tableau isRead more.
Periodic Snapshots with Tableau Incremental Refresh
Happy New Year! Even as 2016 was winding down, I found myself with a challenge dealing with time. And IRead more.
#Data16 Presentation: Fun or Serious? How to use both to improve your dashboards
Tableau Conference 2016 is over and I’m still digesting everything I saw, giddy with excitement over the new features that wereRead more.
Multiple Google Analytics accounts in one Tableau data source!
So, I previously wrote about how to use data blending to get data from multiple Google Analytics data sources intoRead more.
Tableau Forum Fun: Grand totals next to columns
I really love the Tableau Community Forums. If you haven’t ever experienced the forums, you really should! It’s a vibrant community allRead more.
Now Published: Learning Tableau 10, 2nd ed! (Chance to win a copy)
Have you noticed my blogging frequency has been down in the last few months? Have you missed me on Twitter?Read more.
Learn Tableau tip that could save you hours! (something new every day)
Learn Tableau: something new every day! Years ago, one of my colleagues asked if Tableau was something that you couldRead more.
Tableau 10, Where have you been?!
Tableau 10 is on the fourth beta, which means the Tableau devs are getting really close to production release (as farRead more.
A “little” new formatting feature in Tableau 10.0
I’ve been blogging about some of the “little” Tableau 10.0 new features that aren’t as publicized as some of theRead more.
Another “Little” Tableau 10 Feature: Data Source Screen Enhancements
Big shiny new Tableau 10 features get all the press: Data Highlighter, Custom Territories, Cross database joins… But what about theRead more.
“Little” Tableau 10.0 Features: Clusters as Partitions for Table Calcs
As I’ve been beta testing Tableau 10.0 and working on a new edition of Learning Tableau, I’ve been making allRead more.
Tableau Quick Tip: Create a Gap in Tabular Reports
Ever design a table in Tableau and wish you could insert a gap between columns or rows? Maybe you wantRead more.
Bob Ross Mashup: The Joy of Viz Painting 2
I grew up watching Bob Ross and as I watched him mix colors and beat brushes, I knew that I couldRead more.
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 thisRead more.
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 newRead more.
You may recall a previous post in which I warned of some landmines in using Excel with Tableau. Well, looks likeRead more.
Where Food is Scarce…
Having never previously entered into the Tableau #IronViz feeder contests, I was eager to participate this year. The category ofRead more.
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, easyRead more.
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 ofRead more.
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 yearsRead more.
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 bringingRead more.
Tweaking Views in Tableau
In a previous post I shared how even a small tweak to a dataviz can change the perspective of theRead more.
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 whenRead more.
Partial Period Panic
The Problem of Partial Periods So you built out that incredible Tableau* time series viz showing sales per week orRead more.
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 muchRead more.
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. SheRead more.
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 knowRead more.
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,Read more.
#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 youRead more.
Tableau and Cubes (OLAP)
At some point, I got labeled as a “Tableau cube expert.” The funny thing is, when I first acquired thisRead more.
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 useRead more.
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 secondRead more.
Star Trek: The Tableau Game
In the 1980s, my dad brought home a Tandy 1000. I still remember him giving instructions to my mom andRead more.
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 doRead more.
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 DetailRead more.
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 asRead more.
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 lookRead more.
Star Trek – To Boldly Tableau
The wait is over! The game is now online! You’ve seen Choose Your Own Adventure, Tic Tac Tableau, andRead more.
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 toRead more.
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, aRead more.
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 forRead more.
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 extendRead more.
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 assignRead more.
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,Read more.
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… inRead more.
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 analysisRead more.
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 yetRead more.
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 calculationRead more.
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 thingsRead more.
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 beforeRead more.
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,Read more.
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 dataRead more.
Dynamic Annotations (Part 3)
Often, there is no “right” way to accomplish something in Tableau. There are often many ways to approach a solution.Read more.
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 deskRead more.
Blackjack! (Tableau deals)
Can’t wait for the Tableau conference next week year? How about playing a game of blackjack against Tableau in theRead more.
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 andRead more.
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 itRead more.
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 comeRead more.
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 thoughtRead more.
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 writeRead more.
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 thisRead more.
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),Read more.
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.Read more.
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 killedRead more.
Sheet Selection on Steroids
Sheet swapping or sheet selection is a technique used to switch out views in a dashboard. The basics approach forRead more.
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,Read more.
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!)Read more.
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 statisticalRead more.
Google Analytics in Tableau: Blending Data From Multiple Accounts
(This is one of the most popular blog posts here… but it was written when Cuban cigars were still underRead more.
Random Numbers (Even with Extracts)
Ever wish you could use random numbers in Tableau? Of course, when you are connected to a data sourceRead more.
Dynamic Annotations (Part 2)
Edit – This post describes one approach. But, it turns out, there is an easier way: Dynamic Annotations (Part 3)Read more.
Dynamic Annotations (Part 1)
Edit – This post describes one approach. But, it turns out, there is an easier way: Dynamic Annotations (Part 3)Read more.
Mapping Distances – An Alternate Approach
The Issue A common technique for calculating distances in Tableau is to use a custom SQL statement to join aRead more.
This is an ever growing list of Tableau resources such as blogs, whitepapers, technical articles, and other things I’ve found helpful. Please suggest additional resources in the comments.
Some Basic Tableau Resources
Some Advanced Tableau Resources
Tableau Under the Covers (Technical Articles, Whitepapers — a little more on the heavy technical side)
Tableau Server Resources
Design and Visualization Techniques
Someone once told me that every piece of business software was all about the data. That person was right. At any given moment you are creating data, moving data, manipulating data, or viewing data.
I started my career as a .NET developer, creating custom software solutions for various clients. And it is always about the data. It wasn’t long before clients wanted to see and understand their data. I used various tools to try to help them: SSRS, Dundas, Telerik, Fusion Charts – always approaching the problem from a developer’s perspective:
Then I was introduced to Tableau. It’s a totally new paradigm. It’s a game-changer. It’s fun!
Along the way, I’ve picked up some useful tips and tricks, a few hacks, and some best practices. My goal is to pass some of that knowledge along and also gain new insights from the Tableau community. Let’s do some Viz Painting!