Sep 202011

You all know I love Tableau, yes? We’re cool with that…

… but…

There are times when I see Tableau guiding people to make less than ideal visualizations; situations where your have to grapple with the tool to get better results.  A good example may be found at the Tableau Public blog.  Here’s a screen capture.

There’s some great information here, but a lot of the impact is lost for two reasons:

1) Alaska and Hawaii

I’ve been griping about this since the release of Tableau 4.0, but this viz underscores the problem of always being “longitudinally correct”:  There’s no room for the information! (Damn that Pacific Ocean).  Alex Kerwin offers a solution to this here but it’s not built into the product and it requires some futzing (but it is very cool).

2) Default divergent colors

I’ve already railed about this in an earlier blog post but if you need a reminder, here’s a simulation of what this type of color combination looks like to a person who is color blind:

The solution?  Make Blue / Orange the default divergent palette.

And while I’m at it…

I really need dashboard-specific filters, but I’ve already begged/complained about that.

Maybe in Tableau 7?


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 Posted by on September 20, 2011 1) General Discussions, Blog  Add comments

  6 Responses to “I want to work with, not around, Tableau”

Comments (6)
  1. I am right there with you Steve.

    I sent out my own list or requests this morning:

  2. I would like to see us take a crack at the Alaska/Hawaii issue some day (my personal opinion, all of this).  Do you know of any good examples of “getting it right” where the maps are interactive?

    Agreed on the dashboard-scoped filters too, of course. :)

    I have to say though, that I think green=good, red=bad (or green=go, red=stop) is so built in to our culture that we’d get a huge number of complaints if we moved to something more colorblind-friendly.

  3. Agreed it would be great to avoid the way that I have mangled Tableau into doing the AK/HI issue – mine has plenty of shortcomings. And double yes to dashboard specific filters.

  4. I believe the map issue could be fixed if you used a WMS server that served up different projections. So, if you could find a WMS that had a nice Peter’s projection, or similar, this would be less of an issue. 

    However, I don’t know whether such a WMS exists…

    Another solution might be to create a parameter containing “All states” and “Lower 48”. Then create a calc field that includes/excludes AL and HI. I’ve seen this done somewhere on Tableau Public before, but alas cannot remember where…

  5. Andy,

    I’m not saying it can’t be done. It’s that, as per your suggestions, you have to work around, not with, Tableau.

    This is exactly why it would be great to have an easy solution that’s just in the product.

    And while I’m on the soap box, I’d rather have a choropleth chart in this case (without having to work hard to get it. )


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