Data Viz Done Right

September 20, 2022

Comparing Change Between Time Periods with a Scatterplot

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Displaying change in a scatterplot can be challenging. One of the simplest methods, if you only have 2 time periods (e.g., this year vs. last year), is with a connected scatterplot. These are a fantastic visualization for showing the direction of the change AND the amount of change.

September 19, 2022

#MakeoverMonday Week 38 - American Business Applications

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Well, this was a pretty epic fail. No, it was a really big fail. Those that tuned in to Watch Me Viz will be well aware of my struggles with this data set. I don't know why. Maybe it was a concentration issue. I hope it was still useful to everyone, and I hope it was good to see someone with so much experience still struggle.

My original idea was to compare each State to the US average. I got the calculations right, but it was thoroughly uninteresting. Basically, the variance rarely changed. Therefore, there was nothing to see in the analysis.

I stopped the livestream after 90 minutes, the audience and I had suffered enough. Afterwards, I took a break and came back to Tableau. This time, I thought more clearly through the solution I was trying to create. Basically, I wanted something very much like the original, just a bit better looking.

It turns out I was overcomplicating the implementation and the calculations. Parameters were a much, much better solution and allowed me the flexibility I needed to create the month over month calculations. 

I'd encourage you to check out the video. I tried lots of different things and explained what I was doing along the way, so you're sure to learn something. My final dashboard is below the video.

Have a great week everyone and thank you for being so supportive of Makeover Monday.

September 15, 2022

Table Calculations vs. Level of Detail Expressions - % of Total

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In this video, I show you the difference between table calculations and level of detail expressions with the % of total calculation. I review: 

  1. How to compute a % of total with a table calc 
  2. How to compute a % of total with an LOD 
  3. How filters impact these calculations 
  4. How context filters impact level of detail expressions 
  5. Tableau's order of operations 

Download the workbook here. Download the order of operations chart here.

September 12, 2022

#MakeoverMonday 2022 Week 37 - Berkshire Hathaway Holdings

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During Watch Me Viz, I covered set actions, parameter actions, highlighting, boolean calculations, table calculation, dashboard layout, and I failed at a starburst chart (I couldn't get the years to sort properly; I'll post it when I figure it out).

Enjoy! Check out the viz below the video.


September 7, 2022

The Fundamentals of Logical Functions - IF THEN vs. Case

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In this video, I got through several examples of when to use an IIF, IF THEN, or CASE statement in Tableau. I also cover their best use cases, when you have to use one vs. another, and general rules of thumb.

While this is demonstrated in Tableau, it's application to nearly all tools that use logical statements.

September 5, 2022

#MakeoverMonday 2022 Week 36 - Median Age at First Marriage in America

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This was a relatively simple data set and I was able to build quite a few vizzes during Watch Me Viz. I ended up with something more complex that it needed to be, but it was fun figuring out how to create the calculations.

Here's how it works:

  1. Compare the median age at first marriage of each state to the US average for 2006-2010
  2. Compare the median age at first marriage of each state to the US average for 2015-2019
  3. Check whether the State 
    1. Stayed above the US average in both time periods
    2. Stayed below the US average in both time periods
    3. Moved from below the US average to above the US average
    4. Moved from above the US average to below the US average

Got it? Yes, it a bit confusing. In the end, we were able to highlight 6 states that moved above the US average to below the US average. All others stayed the same. What does this mean from an analytical perspective? Probably nothing, but it looks better than the original.

Check out the viz below the video or here.

September 2, 2022

5 Most Common Date Functions in Tableau

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In this tip, I take you through the 5 most common date functions in Tableau:


By the end of this video you will understand when to use them to meet your use case. Click here for the cheat sheet I created for these date calculations.

August 29, 2022

#MakeoverMonday 2022 Week 35 - The World's Biggest Military Spenders

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Makeover Monday is back! Every Monday I'll be running a #WatchMeViz and every Wednesday, Eva will be running #VizReview. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for reminders of the latest events.

This week was a makeover of a visualization by Visual Capitalist about the top 10 military spenders. During Watch Me Viz, I iterated through 15 different charts before settling on a bump chart. If you want to learn about sets, parameters, table calculations, containers and more, watch the video below.

Below the video you can see my viz, or click here. Enjoy! If you need clarifications on anything, please comment on the video here.

August 26, 2022

Workout Wednesday - New York City Tableau User Group Recap

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Talk about pressure! I was given a 30 minute slot to see how many Workout Wednesday's I could complete. I was pretty confident I could finish 4, given I had already pre-selected the challenges I thought were easiest. 

But...those pesky tooltips!

And the heckler in the audience (ahem Ann Jackson).

So how'd I do? I got the WOW2020 Week 32 100% complete, week 28 about 95% complete (the tooltips), and week 21 about 95% complete. It love trying to solve problems and build vizzes live.

If you missed it, here's the recording from the TUG. My part starts at 38:55. Farther down, you'll find each of the workouts in their completed state.

August 23, 2022

How to Create a Two-Level Drill Down in Tableau

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There are tons of ways to create a single level drill down, but if you’re having issues creating a second drill down, this video is a guaranteed way to help you fix this problem.

Additional video - Single Level Drill Down 

August 17, 2022

Analyzing Seasonality with Cycle Plots

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Cycle plots are exceptionally useful for analyzing seasonality in time series data. In this video, I walk you through two examples that show the limitations of traditional time series analysis and two examples of how cycle plots overcome these problems. 

Inspired by: Jon Schwabish
Download the workbook here.

August 11, 2022

10 Methods for Displaying Variance with Bar Charts

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Using variance as a measure in bar charts helps you:

  1. Add context - You can answer the question “compared to what?”
  2. Make decisions - You can answer the question "what should we do next?"
  3. Alert you to areas that need focus

In this video, I show you 10 ways to add variance to bar charts. Get the workbook here.

August 4, 2022

ATTR - The Most Confusing Aggregation in Tableau

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Aggregations can be difficult to understand. In Tableau, I find the ATTR (attribute) aggregation the hardest to get my head around. 

In this video, I teach you: 
  1. What an attribute is
  2. Why the attribute aggregation exists 
  3. Examples that show how it works 
  4. The difference between ATTR and other aggregations like MIN & MAX 
  5. How Tableau write the ATTR aggregation as a formula 
  6. How to ensure you're not misleading your audience
  7. How to work around the pesky *

August 1, 2022

Why I started using Tableau

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I started using Tableau in 2007. I've learned a lot since then. In this video, I go back to the beginning and tell you how I got started. My journey won't be dissimilar to many of you. Plus, I provide some simple steps to learn faster.

July 19, 2022

How to Add Custom Shapes to Tableau

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Tableau comes with a limited number of shape palettes. However, I have had use cases when I need to use my own shapes. In this tip, I show how I add a custom shape palette to Tableau.

Here are some websites to download shapes. Note that some of they require attribution.

July 12, 2022

How to Update a Datasource WITHOUT CLOSING TABLEAU

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If you use a PC, you’ve probably run into the situation where you can’t update a datasource because it’s in use by Tableau. You have to close Tableau, save the datasource, then open Tableau again. Well…no more! 

I promise this tip is going to save you lots of time and tons of frustration.

July 5, 2022

How to Create a Hexbin Map in Tableau

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In this tip, I show you how to create a hexbin map in Tableau. But first, let me explain the purpose, benefits and drawback of a hexbin map.

There are countless times when I have been asked to display way too much data on a map. Sometimes I’ve been asked to display thousands of points on a map..but why? I know no one will understand it. 

A hexbin map uses hexagons to divide an area into multiple parts and assign a color gradient to each hexagon. This chart type is used to visualize density, where the hexagons dividing the whole space into discrete units of equal size. 

This video is going to help you communicate the concentration of data on maps more effectively and give you another option for visualizing geospatial data. I’ll show you how to create a hexbin map based on both the value and the rank, giving you two options depending on your use case.

If you want to follow along, these are the data sources I used:

1. Austin Bike Accidents -

2. Austin Zip Codes Shapefile -

3. Price Summary -

June 28, 2022

How to Use the Highlighter to Set a Default Color Palette

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Let's say you have a view with lots of marks and you want highlight a specific mark and assign a color palette so that mark is always highlighted whenever that dimension is used, irrespective of the chart.

To do this you can Highlight one or more discrete fields from the color palette and assign those marks to be highlighted. This does not impact the level of detail in the view.

Here's how you do it:

June 24, 2022

My Sabbatical with Maggie

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Having been with The Information Lab for more than 5 years, I had the opportunity to take a month-long sabbatical. I went to Siam Park with my son Henry in Tenerife, a week long trip to Eckington in the UK, plus every possible moment spent with Maggie.

Of course, I tracked everything I did with my beloved companion. And we did A LOT. 

We covered 254 kilometers (158 miles) in 60 hours over the course of 38 days. 

While I do have the routes for every activity, I thought that was too personal, so I stuck with a simple KPI dashboard. It tells me lots of stories I'll never forget...from gun dog training to long hikes across the English countryside to cuddles on the couch. I love her so much!

June 22, 2022

How to Sort a Multi-Column Bar Chart with a Parameter Action

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Let's say you have a chart with 1 dimension and 3 measures. You want to make sorting the bar chart by any of the measures as easy as possible. In this tip, I show you how to use parameter actions to sort the bar charts based on the measure you select.