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February 24, 2015

Automate the Tableau License Rotation Process

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A new year brought a new license key for Tableau. This means having to get every single user swapped over to the new key so that we could get an accurate count of the licenses we're utilizing. This process involved a couple of steps:

  1. Automatically remove Tableau Desktop from any computer that has not used it in the last 30 days (of course they can always re-install)
  2. Swap out the old license key with the new license key

I hooked up with the amazing Luke Robles on the Facebook IT Infrastructure team to see if there was a way to automate this process. The first part, removing Tableau Desktop, is handled through some of our internal tools. For the process of rotating the license key, not only did Luke make it work, he open sourced it for everyone to use.

You can grab the code on Github. Note, this code is for Mac installations only. I'll post the PC code once it's ready, but the process itself should be fairly similar if you want to take a crack at it on your own.

Tableau Tip Tuesday: Creating Bar in Bar Charts


This week's Tableau Tip Tuesday shows you how to create charts with a bar inside of another bar. These are very useful for making comparisons between either two measures (e.g., budget vs. actuals) or two discrete dimensions (e.g., central vs. east).

Makeover Monday: From Sunburst to Story - The State of American Well-Being

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Blog reader B Winds Cogley sent me this beauty last week as a makeover candidate:

The story the designer is trying to tell is really quite simple. The longer the bar, the higher the ranking. The problem, though, is that they are order alphabetically which makes ordering them by rank basically impossible.

I was able to locate the source of the data on the State of American Well-Being website. From there, I had to download the reports for 2013 and 2014 and then I consolidated them into Excel, which you can download here.

At first, I was thinking a simple bar chart would work, but that turned out really boring because the only data to display is the ranking, not the value that makes up the ranking. I decided instead to create this story in Tableau.

Download the workbook used to create this story here (requires Tableau 9).

February 21, 2015

Tableau Tip: Labeling the Right-inside of a Bar Chart

I'm currently in the middle of peer reviewing Cole Nussbaumer's new book. One of the things I appreciate most about Cole is her focus on simplicity in design, particularly when it comes to bar charts. Here's a typical example of her simple design style:

This got me thinking. Out of the box, you cannot put the data label for bar charts in Tableau on the right-inside of the bar. Here are the options you get from the Labels shelf:

None of these options let me label the bars like Cole does. To do so, you need to follow a few simple steps:

That gets you the same look as Cole, and if you want to take it one step farther, you can clean it up even more by moving the dimension labels inside the bars on the left. Of course, this would only work if the bars are big enough.

You can download the workbook used to build this example here (requires Tableau 9).

UPDATE: Joe Mako suggested in the comments to use a cell-level reference line. This method saves the secondary axis for something else, should you need it. Both methods solve the same problem though. I've included this method in the workbook link above. Here's what it looks like:

And if you want the dimension labels inside the bar as well, simply drag the dimension to the Label shelf and left align.

February 17, 2015

Tableau Tip Tuesday: Creating Lollipop Charts

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This week's Tableau Tip Tuesday shows you how to create basic and intermediate lollipop charts. The detailed steps can be found on this blog post.

Click the image below to explore the viz and view the video.

February 16, 2015

Makeover Monday: How Does Francis Coquelin's 14/15 Season Compare to Alex Song's 11/12 Season at Arsenal?

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Ever since Alex Song left Arsenal for Barcelona in the summer following the 11/12 season, Arsenal have been in desperate need of a defensive midfielder. They've been scraping by with Arteta and Flamini, but they're both aging and not getting any better. In the 2014 summer transfer window, fans were screaming out for Arsene Wenger to sign a DM. Stubborn as he is, Wenger didn't sign one.

That decision left Arsenal very thin at the back to start the 14/15 season. Fast forward a few months and injuries, as they always do, hit Arsenal hard. They were forced to recall Francis Coquelin from a loan spell at Charlton.

As the saying goes, he's been like a new signing. In his previous spells with the first team, he failed to establish himself, but this time around, he grabbed hold of the opportunity and surely now Coquelin is the first name on the manager's team sheet.

Late last week, I ran across this article from HITC Sport. In it, Dan Coombs says "Coquelin has shown already that he is playing defensively at an equal or higher level than Song's final season at the club." Dan then provided this simple table:

This table is perfectly fine. It's a table and it provides a great way to look up the data. In the end, the point of the story is to show how effectively Coquelin is playing compared to Song. I created this infographic in Keynote with the hope that it is more interesting, more engaging and makes comparisons easier.

February 10, 2015

Tableau Tip Tuesday: Creating Basic and Intermediate Pareto Charts

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This week's Tableau Tip Tuesday is a video tip that shows how to create basic and intermediate Pareto charts.

You can download the Tableau workbook here (requires Tableau 9).

February 9, 2015

Makeover Monday: Beyond the Box Score - Which Teams Outperformed Their Predicted Win %?

Reader Kevin Ruprecht, reached out to me last week with this tweet:
Kevin has been following my Makeover Monday series and wanted some advice/feedback. He and I are going to do a screen share session later today to talk about his viz, my makeover, and my thought process.  Thanks for asking Kevin!!

Kevin is new to Tableau, so it takes quite a bit of courage to post on a site as large as We should all be cognizant that there are tons of people learning Tableau every day. We need to be thoughtful with our comments and the words we choose when we respond. Think about how you would feel if you were new to Tableau and someone commented negatively about your first viz. What would you want to hear? How would you feel?

In the end, we should all be kind to everyone we meet. We want to be an encouraging community.

Here's Kevin's original viz. Click on the image to go to the original article.

My initial thoughts:
  • Where's the title? What is this about?
  • Why don't the stats in the slope graph match the stats in the lollipop chart?
  • What is BaseRuns?
  • Which font did Kevin choose and why?
  • There are some formatting changes that need to be made.
  • What does "BR Filter" mean?
I read through the entire article Kevin wrote to help understand the full context of the viz. Given that, I created this alternative version.

Some of the changes I made:

  1. Change the overall font to Helvetica Neue 
  2. Added titles that describe what each chart is about 
  3. Updated the "BR Filter" to something more understandable to the average reader 
  4. Reformatted the slope graph, including: adding gridlines, changing the reference line, adding a secondary axis to aid in reading, reversed the colors 
  5. Replaced the lollipop chart with a bar chart that shows details about the stats in the slope graph, making it a two-part story 
  6. There are some other things as well, but those are the biggest changes.

Thoughts? What would you do differently?

Download the data here and the Tableau workbook here (Tableau 9 required).

February 4, 2015

Tableau Tip Tuesday: Display the Total on Top of Stacked Bars (without Using the Secondary Axis)

I've written previously about adding totals on the top of stacked bars. In that example, I used a secondary axis to add the totals. However, what if you're already using the secondary axis? As an example, consider this view:

To display the total for each year on top of the stacked bars, follow these steps.

Step 1: Change the mark type for the left axis to Gantt.

Step 2: Right-click on the Sales pill and add a Running Total Quick Table Calculation
Step 3: Change the Compute Using to Department. The view should now look like this:

Step 4: Create a calculated field that returns the negative Sales.

Step 5: Add this new calculated field to the Size shelf for the Sales axis.

The viz should now look like a stacked bar chart.

Step 6: Create a calculated field to return the running total of sales, but only return it for the top bar.

Step 7: Drag this new calculated field onto the Label shelf for the Sales axis.
Step 8: Change the Compute Using to Department.

That's it!  The view will now look like a stacked bar chart with the total of each year on the top.

Download the Tableau workbook here.

February 3, 2015

Makeover Monday: There's a Reason It Seems like Everyone Is Always Staring at Their Smartphones

Jay Yarow of Business Insider wrote an article about how US adults are changing their media consumption.  The article included this chart:

The point of the chart is to show how the share of mobile time spent is increasing. But the design of the chart makes that insight difficult. Some of the problems include:
  • It's difficult to compare media platforms.
  • The data is a time series, yet Jay used bars, which in itself isn't bad, but lines are easier to read.
  • The title should emphasize the story more.
  • Mobile is the highlight of the story, but it doesn't stand out in the chart at all.
I was able to locate the source data from this article on and create the alternative below. I learned this style of highlighting the important pieces of the data at Cole Nussbaumer's great public workshop.

Create your own version. Download the data here and the Tableau workbook here.