Data Viz Done Right

June 14, 2013

The n00b taught the teacher a lesson: Changing the field on the color or size shelf without changing the shelf itself.

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If you ever think you know everything there is to know about Tableau, then I guarantee you that you are wrong.  I’ve never once thought that I know it all.  The training class I ran today in Dublin is proof that even someone with almost six years of experience using Tableau can learn from someone who has been using it for less than one hour.

Picture this.  You have a simple bar chart that shows Sales by Container colored by Profit Ratio.

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But now, instead of coloring by Profit Ratio, you want to color by a different field, perhaps Discount or Customer Segment.  I was always taught to drop the field on the Color shelf to replace the existing color.  But there is another way, which the n00b taught me today.

Instead of dropping the new pill on the Color shelf, you can drop it on the color palette itself.  Like this.  Notice how I’m dropping Discount onto the color palette (it’s very faint).  Also notice how in Tableau 8, all of the places where you can drop the pill are outlined in an orange border (except the chart area).

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And viola, you have your updated viz.

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I’ve confirmed that this works in versions 7 & 8 as well as on both the Color and Size shelves.  This might very well be THE reason why I love teaching so much.  I truly feel that I learn more from teaching than I do from working on my own.  And this is also why I love Tableau; I learn something new every single day.

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