Monday, December 16, 2013

A Single Pixel (Or Hide) Can Save Your Tableau Viz

UPDATE: After posting this in the Tableau Tips and Tricks community, +Shawn Wallwork pointed out an alternative to my solution that is built right into Tableau.  It was a lesson for me, so I wanted to share it here as well.

While working on my Mike Ditka dashboard (here and on Tableau Public), I had an interesting idea for 'Da Coach' viz: While showing a timeline of a particular coaches season records over time, I would also indicate if the coach had won a Super Bowl that year.

I had found a great site that had images of the Super Bowl logos and used a Chrome extension to download all of the them.  After making a shapes folder for the Super Bowl images in my Tableau Repository, I mapping the images to the coach-season combination that was appropriate.  This layered on top of a line chart started to become....

Ugh...so close, yet so far away
not what I was hoping for.  There were far more 'Null' values than images to display, and if I made the sizing smaller, the Super Bowl logos would not show up.

NEW METHOD: Tableau builds in a way to accomplish hiding the unwanted shapes.  

First, select (left click) the shape you want to hide.  This is CRITICAL because jumping this step will not get you the menu options you want.

Second, right click on the object you want to hide and check 'Hide'
REMEMBER: You will only see this option if you select the object to hide first!

If you ever need to see the data that you have hidden, you can select the drop down of the shape card, and select 'Show Hidden Data'

This accomplishes the same task as the original method, while also providing some additional space in the Viz.  But be sure to remember what you've hidden so you don't loose track of your data. 

ORIGINAL METHOD: Epiphany: what if I made the image for 'Null' values a single pixel?  That way, it will be so small it won't be seen as an image, and even if I need to make it bigger, it still will not be noticed.  
Sure enough, a website hosts an image of a transparent single pixel.  After downloading the image and saving it to my shapes folder, it was easy enough to assign: just hovering over they general area Tableau gave me a easy-to-select box.
Selecting a transparent single pixel inside of Tableau
Worksheet updated!

In the end this gave me the worksheet I was hoping for all along.  Maybe this will help you too in your next viz!  Take care.