Three Tiny Tableau Tricks

I’m not a master of Tableau, so I always am happy to find places where I can get a toehold on it and make it work for me. It is such a powerful tool, but it can be intimidating. Here are three quick things—one big, two small—that helped me out.

Color by Multiple Dimensions

This was said off-hand in a section of a helpful Udemy course I was working through and it became a go-to method for plotting things with many nested categories. Super useful to see how things break down visually.

  • Simply command click to select two variables and drag them to the color box
  • You can reorder the grouping of the variables by dragging one above the other in the shelf.
  • Definitely an example of a feature that is hard to find, but I end up using it all the time.

Command Click to Drag a Variable Copy

I would often have a setup of rows and columns, but want to filter out some part of one of the variables, or split into pages somehow. Dragging a new variable from the left may mean you have to alter the default aggregate function and that gets annoying (looking at averages, say, and you drag a new one, defaulting to sum). You can command-click-and-drag to solve this.

  • Command-click-and-drag your nice variable to preserve desired aggregations
  • Simple but saves a lot of hassle and makes it more fluid

2020-08-Update: Tableau Can Do This!

You can select a given variable and change the default aggregation to something other than SUM! Will try to take advantage, although I will probably only change it after dragging a new variable over with the wrong aggregation several times over!

Click and Hold to Pan Maps

I found maps annoying to navigate, till I learned you can do it all from the mouse. I would go back and forth clicking tools to get the placement right, usually between pan and zoom. Instead of toggling, you can click-and-hold and it will allow you to pan around, and zoom with scrolling.

  • Click-hold-and-drag to pan without switching tools
  • More fluid interaction

Power Tools are Powerful If They Start To Fade Away

If a tool is a pain to work with, it gets in the way of why you are using it in the first place. You want to get something done, to do something creative.

I’m still amassing these kinds of tricks for all sorts of data-related tools. That way, after some familiarity with a workflow and being comfortable with different tools, they can step aside and work for you rather than against you.

Image Credit

3D Cubes by Zach Bogart from the Noun Project

Zach Bogart
Zach Bogart
Data Explorer

Science, Design, & Data. I’ll know it when I see it.