Friday, February 26, 2010

Copy and Paste Formatting

Did you know that you can copy and paste formatting between worksheets?

Who is Alan Smithee?

Alan Smithee is the fake name used by film and movie directors when they want to completely disassociate themselves from the final production of their movie or film... much like I desire to disassociate myself from this blog!! :)

A list of potentially terrible movies directed by "Alan Smithee" is located here.

Alan Smithee's Bio is located here.

ALL content on this blog is specifically authored and controlled by the one and only Alan Smithee.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Differences between sheets and dashboards when printing and using PDF output

This is just a quick example to show the differences between a Tableau sheet and a Tableau Dashboard, specific to the goal of printing or using PDF output. By definition, Tableau dashboards are best considered "single page entities". In contrast, a Tableau sheet (or view) can span multiple pages. This makes logical sense.

In Tableau desktop, for an individual sheet, you can specify portrait or landscape mode for that sheet, from the File>Page Setup command. This setting will be honored once you publish to Tableau Server.

For example, the following link will auto-generate a PDF of a multi-page report. Notice that the output is already set to "landscape" mode:

Click here to view the multi-page PDF report

Whereas, this second link is the same exact information, but placed onto a dashboard which has been sized to 1100 x 850 (letter landscape). It will only print one page, and thus, a good chunk of the information is cropped and not visible:

Click here to view the single-page PDF dashboard

Again, this is all quite logical: it doesn't really make any sense to print a multi-page dashboard. Else, why call it a dashboard in the first place?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tableau Linking to Google Calendar

After way too much time wasted and general hacking around... I kind of / sort of figured out how to link from a Tableau dashboard to a Google calendar. I still cannot figure out how to jump directly to an "add new event" screen, which would be super cool! Their calendar API seems rather limited still, at least from a pure URL perspective.

At the heart of this example is the fact that I created a public google calendar and then tried to understand the possible variables I could insert into the URL. This part turned out to be rather undocumented, and it's quite possible that google will change this over time, thus breaking this example. If you download the workbook, you will see a Tableau "action" URL which includes the fields from the example data inside the URL.

I also had to create a calculated field called "stringy month" which pads the month integer with a zero for months 1 through 9, simply because google is apparently not smart enough to deal with this. Again, you can download the entire workbook shown below to see this all in action. It's easier to see than it is to type.

To begin: click on one of the heat map squares shown below. Each square is a month and a year. Hover over each one to see the date, total fictitious sales, and fictitious profit.

Table of Contents in Tableau

You can create a table of contents and then use that as a data source and actionable link on a Tableau Dashboard. In the example below, I started with an excel file which contained the Name, Author, and URL for various visuals already on the web. I then connected to this excel file in Tableau, and created a dashboard where the action target is the URL of the visual.

Just for fun, I set all of the links to use the PNG picture output of the original visual. You can always create a dynamically generated PNG image from any Tableau visual simply be adding ".png" to the end of the URL. The same concept applies for PDF output.

Select a row below to view the PNG output of the original visual. Go to Tableau Public to view any of the original visualizations, all of which are interactive.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Radial Charts

shown below are the calculations for generating a cartesian X and Y coordinate system based upon a "direction" measured in degrees from 1 to 360 and a "speed" measured in wind speed. The result is a powerful mechanism to display wind charts which can be combined with time series or other analysis types, and in general can leverage the rest of the Tableau features.

You only need to know the direction (in degrees) and the wind speed.

The excel file which this book is connected to contains 100% ficticious data. No Wind Farm Corporations were harmed in the making of this workbook.

The X calculation for showing "east west" is:


And the Y calculation for "north south" is:


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Multiple Levels of Aggregation

In the visual below, we needed to A) get all of the averages across all hours, B) find the minimum average of these, and C) compare the rest of the averages to the minimum average. Custom SQL as part of the initial Tableau connection is the best solution here.

In the example below, the client wanted to see - for each utility registrant and each hour of the day - the averages of energy use, but also wanted to see the various averages as compared to the lowest average (I.E. the min of the averages) This solution also allows us to see percentage bands above this minimum. Plus, if you click on a bar segment you can see the exact percentage above the minimum. Nifty!