Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Controlling Someone elses' Viz...

If you are like me, then you are lazy. Why design a visual when someone else has already done it?? Perhaps you just want to link to one. But perhaps, you also want to filter on one. This example makes use of simple javascript to tell a story. I've used a dashboard from The Data Studio designed by Andy Cotgreave. You will want to "view source" on this blog post to see the javascript that I used to control Andy's viz. I could have exposed the javascript somehow, but remember my comment about being lazy? Yeah... anyway, using html and javascript filters to control someone elses' viz makes me feel so... omnipotent! :)

This is my control

To the right is Andy's viz

Choose your American States:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Starting in 2011, I'm making a mission out of creating tiny charts and dashboards. I'm exhausted from constantly looking at big, ugly charts and dashboards that fill up the screen but are mostly filled with whitespace and other useless junk. Keep reading below the viz to see more info.

In the two examples above: The Multigrain dashboard uses a calculated field and a parameter to change the Level of Detail (LOD) for the visual. This is *not* recommended at high data volumes as it will be quite slow. However, you should see decent performance at 5k to 5m records, depending on your data source. The nasty non-optimal calculation looks like this:

CASE [Select Granularity]
WHEN "Level 1" THEN [Prod Type1]+", "+[Segment]
WHEN "Level 2" THEN [Prod Type1]+", "+[Segment]+", "
+[Prod Type2]
WHEN "Level 3" THEN [Prod Type1]+", "+[Segment]+", "
+[Prod Type2]+", "+[Prod Type3]
+", "+[Prod Type4]+", "+[Customer Name]
WHEN "Level 4 - Warning!" THEN [Prod Type1]+", "+[Segment]
+", "+[Prod Type2]+", "+[Prod Type3]+", "+[Prod Type4]+", "
+[Customer Name]+", "+str([Order Id])+", "+str([Line Id])

I guess the good news here is that Moore's Law will keep catching up with this kind of lazy, non-performant analytics! :)

The second example, Quadriplot, came to me in a fitful waking state. I wanted to see how small I could make a 4-up dashboard without losing usability. It's debatable as to how successful I was. Nonetheless, the salient points to this dashboard are:

  • The use of discrete Tableau Actions
  • The use of the new 6.0 table calculations to show totals at the bottom

Binary Charts

I would like to come up with a better name than a Binary Chart. I also am getting a little bit tired of hearing the acronym "KPI" (Key Progress Indicator). If anyone has a better name for this type of chart, I am all ears and keyboards...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Only Show Background Image When...

Those who know me, know me as a contrarian. Thus, with the arrival of 6.0, I'm going to highlight one of the oldest features in Tableau. This feature - known as "only show a background image when a field equals a value" does not appear to be documented anywhere. Perhaps in the Tableau user forums. I haven't had time to search... anyhoo, this happy little feature is one of my personal favorites. In the viz shown below, when you select a new value for the data set (Tableau's ubiquitous "coffee chain" data), the background image will change. I have randomly selected four satellite images, which have nothing to do with the data per se, but it demonstrates the point nicely.