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 one. Specifically, I wanted to write an electronic version.  When I was 10 or 11 (back in the early ’90s!), I remember trying to create one using Basic. My dad told me that I shouldn’t try to hard-code all the text as strings and instead store it in a file. Turns out he was right!


Fast forward a few years and I get the thought that maybe I could create a Choose Your Own Adventure dashboard in Tableau.  It seemed like a possibility, but there were definitely some hurdles. For one thing, how could you have a choice that would reveal an entirely new set of choices when you selected it – without allowing the user/reader the option of changing their mind and selecting something else?  After all, sheets that trigger action filters, parameters, and quick filters are all still there once you make a selection. Don’t like the outcome of the story? Just make another selection.  (Granted, I’d keep my finger in the pages of the physical Choose Your Own Adventure books to go back and find alternate endings.)  But that’s not the way I wanted the dashboard to work.


I love pushing the limits with Tableau! A few months ago I started playing around with all the possibilities available using Sheet Swapping.  If Sheet Swapping on Steroids was what got a ball player kicked out of the league, then this dashboard is what turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. But even more, this dashboard is a shout-out to many of the wonderful individuals in the Tableau community – which is the best out there!


Stay tuned for a post or two that goes into “how it works” but for now, have fun:

Edit: I think I’ve got the error that resulted in an intermittent blank page resolved. (Hope so, at least). There were a few other things I fixed too… who knows what I broke along the way…


9 Responses so far.

  1. Matt Lutton says:

    Wow, this is amazing.

  2. Aparna says:

    Amazing use of Tableau ! I am still working out to save the Universe. Will wait for the “how it works” stuff . Thanks !

  3. David Baldwin says:

    Many thanks, Joshua, for sharing your creation! My wife, kids and I had a good time last night destroying the universe and saying ‘oops!’ Before causing the extension of all, however, we enjoyed coffee in Seattle (complete with a cameo appearance by Molly!), a tour of Australia, and searching for Bigfoot.

  4. John says:

    Joshua – this is incredible.

    One thing I’ve been struggling with is the use of a filter action in replacing the source visualization. I understand how to use a source viz with action filters and layout containers to replace destination visualizations. But in your workbook, you have a viz for “Push a button on the time machine” which, once selected, gets replaced with another visualization. Can you explain how that is done? Thanks,


    • Please stay tuned! I’m working through some explanation of the Tic Tac Toe dashboard and then will return to this one for some details. The Tic Tac Toe dashboard uses a similar technique (you’ll notice that clicking on the board causes a refresh with a new board shown — that’s actually two views being swapped back and forth), so explanation on that may give you the answer you want.

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