Catching up with #MakeOverMonday

It was November 2nd 2017 and I was sat staring out the window thinking about how fast this year has gone, and that it is Christmas soon! I then started to ponder on all the Tableau work I had done this year, and what I had actually achieved through work life. Yes I moved to a better job, went to both conferences, gained more experience in training others with Tableau, got some social life back and attempted (hopefully pass by the time this publishes) the Tableau Desktop QA exam! I thought I hadn’t really done much Tableau-ing for myself though, not enough anyways. Mostly on client sites replicating excel, or training others to use Tableau – I hadn’t dabbled enough for my liking or learnt enough.

So I decided on this date – with 7 weeks left of this year (week 44) that I would try to complete all of the #MakeOverMonday’s ! It’s a lot. I had started off the year pretty good and did the first few weeks between 1 – 10 missing (7&8). So hey what’s 35 odd by this point? I had to make a plan and stay organised so I wouldn’t get confused with data sets and weeks. Throughout the year I had some half completed #MoM where I downloaded the dataset, started to build something and either got distracted by work or gave up because of seeing everyone else’s work. So this also helped in my favour and the task seemed like it would be okay, challenging but achievable.


I would only stick to the original rules of 1 hour in each makeover – going old school. I didn’t have the time to spend hours on end creating amazing visuals. But, I did have the time to spare an hour even if it meant learning 1 new thing – I have 30 odd to go – so ideally that is 30 small new learnings to achieve.

Some are very dull and boring – I had a huge number to get though and not a lot of time, but it’s practice and any practice is good practice.

Getting Organised.

Super organised. I wrote it all down, downloaded every data set and put them in an individual file. I actually learnt a lot about using my MAC too during this process, drag and drop is a beauty. Who knew.

How I felt.

Like what am I doing? Why am I setting myself up for either a lot of work and pain to even a fail. But, I felt like it was something good to challenge myself and catch up. I wanted to apply a lot of the charts, formatting and images etc that I saw throughout the year from the community. It was quite a daunting thought. They say if you don’t scare yourself once a day are you even living? Well I was slightly scared of this.

Weekly Updates.

November 6th – Weeks 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 44, 45

November 13th – Weeks 46, – took this week off this as my husband had a blood clot in his leg (insert face palm emoji), he is okay now.

November 20th Weeks 47, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27

November 27th – Had a week off for holiday exploring Ireland

December 4th – TBC???


I found that I didn’t know what the story or the data set was about, so I had to spend some time re-reading the web links Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray had posted on the #MakeOverMonday website – I didn’t have twitter posts and conversations to follow and get ideas from the community on the go. I also had to make a lot of cross tabs to see what was in the data, using it as a reference to go back and forth between sheets to understand what was in it. Tableau Public was a big help to find previous work to learn from, you know the famous saying ‘Steal like an artist‘ – all credits below don’t worry. 

Lessons Learnt.

So not all of the MakeOverMondays will look fabulous, because I took this opportunity to try out different things. On the weeks I struggled to find a story, I would use the data to concentrate on something else. For instance on week 18 – Sydney Ferry Trips – the data was quite sparing. So I took the time to learn about making images transparent, and learning about doing funky things with Text boxes such as the 3D effect.

I also took the time on some weeks to re do a few of the new charts I learnt throughout the year. Such as week 7 – at #TC17 I learnt about Sunburst charts – so I recreated it to practice.

During the challenge I picked up new charts along the way too – such as Rody Zakovich – he taught me how to make a Step chart, again I used this in the makeovers to show myself ‘hey I get it, I can do this one too’.

Week 46 I played around with the Bins function – I originally let Tableau do the automated calculation but then thought what happens if I changed it to 0.50 – it showed the breakdown of before 50 and after 50. I know you might think it’s simple, but I was just playing around with different numbers to see what it returned and then try to understand it better.

Week 21 was fun, I searched in Tableau Public for a random chart under the title of the Viz and found a pyramid – So I reversed engineered and recreated that. Credit goes to Tushar for that one! Learnt a lot about Table calcs that day.

I practiced with some LOD’s in a few of the vizzes, basic LOD but tried to find use cases for them, as well as other calculations. Think I have pretty much nailed IF statements throughout this process which is great.

Still haven’t nailed that pesky sankey chart tho. :-/

During /Afterwards 

It turns out to be a pretty useful challenge, I found myself in work situations needing inspiration or a calculation / idea. And I would reference my own work to figure these out! Many of times I would think oh that IF statement would work in real time as well as this MoM.
It’s almost done – I can almost breath. 

Total Vizzes completed in this challenge = 21

Did I pass my exam? NOT YET…..



Credit so far


Back Pocket Full of Charts

I always like to watch and learn how people use Tableau and build charts, so i decided I would start a collection of them. I currently have a workbook full of a number of charts that are listed below, most of these are from exploring Tableau or what you pick up in the early stages of your journey like bar charts, line charts etc. However, as I have grown with Tableau knowledge I have learnt a set number of skills, a particular set of skills (name that movie). I’ve gone from normal maps of the States to now using Hex Maps! And from Heat maps to Waffle Charts.

Where do I get the charts from?

I occasionally trawl through twitter with the hashtag Tableau – to find people’s work or trawl through the oh so famous Tableau Public! Here I find a healthy amount of dashboards with charts I’ve not seen before, I would download them and try to reverse engineer using the sales data set, making notes along the way in the comments box in desktop. If I can’t figure it out – then they don’t make it into my collection until I do. Sometimes I go to the author and ask for tips, other times I sit there and wait until a lightbulb moment – or ask the community.

When it comes to charts that need other data files to help build such like the Waffle and Hex map – as painful as it is sometimes I like to look at the excel file from the previous workbook and then build my own! It helps with the understanding and memorising of how it all goes together, and why it works that way. I keep the excel files stored safely to call upon once I need to build them again.

List of Charts Completed

  1. Bar Charts
  2. Crosstab
  3. Line Chart
  4. Maps
  5. Pie Chart
  6. Dual Line Chart
  7. Line over Bar Chart
  8. Sparklines
  9. Area Chart
  10. Highlight Table
  11. Donut Charts
  12. Waffle Chart
  13. Hex Map
  14. Lollie Pop Chart
  15. Dumbbell Chart
  16. Sunburst Chart
  17. Scatter Plot
  18. Sankey Chart – Working in progress

List of Charts to complete (ever growing)

  1. Marimekko Chart
  2. Box and Whisper Plot
  3. Radial Tree Chart
  4. Histogram Chart
  5. Gantt Chart

Not only do I keep a catalog of charts, I also create a dashboard that has lots of practice formatting on it. Including lines, colours, fonts, layouts etc – this also will get updated on my hard copy as time goes on. 

If you do this as well, or know of some other charts I should have a go at – tell me! Add to my ever growing list and expand the brain. Yes they might be sloppy in formatting but the foundations are there as a reminder. 

Here is my workbook on Tableau Public

#Data17 – nailed it.


Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 20.04.37

Post #Data17 Vegas!

We all love to write about what we learnt and liked during the conference and it is great reading them all. I’d thought I would share before it becomes a distant memory and i’ll forget all the details to tell about my experience – it’s nice to see it from many different views.

 Conference Overall

The conference was just great, the organisation and sheer size of it to accommodate us all was planned out so well. Food was great, lines weren’t that long of a queue, plenty of drinks available to keep hydrated – sure it was a lot of fizzy pop, maybe have bottles of water instead of a tiny cup from a machine. But, you couldn’t fault anything for the 14,000 of us (estimated). After the recent events that happened in Vegas, we all still felt safe and carried on stronger than ever. We had #Data17Donates which was beautiful to watch strangers come together to give back to the Vegas community. To kick the conference off we had a minute silence to acknowledge the tragedy and show respect to those that had fallen, been injured and the many of emergency services & wider community that helped. The Conference also had started a campaign fundraising for the National Compassion Fund which raise over $120,500!! I mean wow come on.

What session did I go too?

  1. Spotify Exploratory Visual Analysis (EVA)
  2. 50 Tips battle session with AK and JS
  3. Stylish, Seamless formatting
  4. Tableau Devs on stage
  5. Alteryx: The thrill of solving, first-hand: Hands-on analytics lab
  6. Getting Vizzy with it: Advanced Visulisation Types
  7. Deployment tips for Tableau Server
  8. Server tools 101: Introduction to Tableau server tools
  9. Data Duo: Your vibe attracts your tribe
  10. Key notes -Tableau vision and Keynote Freaknomics

As mentioned in my previous blog about what we’re looking forward too: (, I tried to ensure the sessions I attended were useful to pick up new skills or have hands on training face to face. I had to sacrifice a lot of sessions that are also very useful and catch up on line, so i made sure the balance was right. I really enjoyed ‘Getting Vizzy with it: Advanced Visulisation Types’ – I knew the first batch of charts already but it was good to see them being built a different way to what I do. We are all aware Tableau has a ton of different ways to do the same thing. The second half of this sessions is where I learnt how to build Sankey Chart, and Starburst wheels! Watch out Tableau public with the new knowledge of some fancy charts.

 The Keynotes were particularly good, especially the Devs on stage and Freakonomics! Learning about all the new features that Tableau are working on is exciting, and majority (if not all) is what we needed two versions ago.

Freakonomics – well they were hilarious. The Turkey Insemination story is probably one of the weirdest most funniest stories I have ever heard. Ask me later for a debrief of that! Really good speakers, honest and relatable. I hadn’t heard of them before the conference so i thank #Data17 for introducing me to them!

I loved the tip battle between Andy Kriebel and Jeffery Shaffer – I actually learnt more than I thought I would given it was a battle, thinking it would be to quick to grasp anything but I am glad I attended – can’t wait for it to be released so we can all practice. It’s not only better ways to do things, they showed different tricks to enhance your vizzes which will work in many a-ways.

Interesting to watch the Data Duo, that session was really imformtive about how they became such a well known duo in the Tableau world. I mostly took away the fact you need to practice tons, trust the community, use the community and smile your way through it.

Tableau Community has my heart.

It is what it is, the vast amount of people that are so friendly and it feels like a family reunion when you see everyone. Even meeting people for the first time that you’ve conversed with over social media for the past year – it’s like we have all been hanging out every day. It was great that those of the community got recognised by the Vizzie awards ran by Wanna Be Podcast – these awards are voted for by the community and ran by the community.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 20.04.28

I’m looking forward to catching up with a number of sessions that have been recorded and revisiting the ones I attended at #Data17! Below is a list of sessions I had wanted to attend but clashed, so these and many others are on my hit list for some bedtime reading.

What sessions I am looking forward to catching up on

  1. From rookie to Rocky: Building your Tableau training program
  2. Beautiful Data: Balancing art and analysis
  3. Eye tracking: What it teaches us about dashboard design
  4. Server Tools 102: Take command with tabcmd
  5. Electronic arts: Taking back ownership of data with Tableau
  6. You down with the LOD? (yeah you know me)

Catch up with sessions here

Vegas itself…

The whole of Vegas was great, the city, the state the venue – you couldn’t fault it for the size. I ate so much food you wouldn’t believe, I tried to make sure I had one of everything that reminded me of when I lived there. Sure to say I ate enough tacos to feed the conference as well as corn dogs and Zebra cakes!

We had the chance to get out of Vegas for a bit and see the Hoover Damn! Structural genius at it’s best, you just can’t comprehend the size of it.

Look out for the rest of the team’s blogs throughout the week on their experience of the conference! Here comes New Orleans #TC18




Why you should attend a Tableau User Group…

So you are new to Tableau, maybe even this country, and you’ve come to work in Tableau over here. Well lucky for you we have a great community to become apart of where you can meet new people and talk Tableau. The Tableau User Groups are run by dedicated members the community who work with Tableau daily.

What happens at a TUG?
Lots. They range depending on where you are attending. You get some customer speakers that demonstrate how they are using Tableau in their industry or business. This can be very useful to learn how to apply different parts to your own business life; everyone is always welcoming to questions too. It’s always good to know you’re not alone in facing the daily Tableau struggles that we all face! Some smaller user groups are able to take a more hands on approach and do a viz club, or some tips ‘n’ tricks training that you can take away to use in your own dashboards & analytics.
Each TUG is usually followed by pizza, most of the time, and a cheeky beer (or soft drink if you prefer). London is the biggest one here in the UK and where you will find a lot of the British community – it’s like a reunion each time. They hold competitions for tips and tricks, which is both amusing and informative, I almost always learn something new! There are also loads of top speakers sharing their insights into Tableau and visualisation, always worth the trip! 

How do I get involved?
Follow @Tableau and @cloudstream_uk and keep an eye on #LondonTUG (or the hashtag for your local TUG) and #Tableau, while theres not always an official twitter account for the TUGs theres always plenty of buzz in the community. If you’re struggling to find a TUG near you drop @Tableau a message and they will be able to point you in the right direction. Want to share – become a speaker! Contact your TUG organiser, they’re always looking for people wanting to talk data! You can share your data journey or work experience with how you tackled a certain problem or even some excellent vizzes you made. Another place you can also find a lot of the user groups is on the Tableau website under Events, failing that then get in touch with your Tableau account manager. I am sure they will know someone who knows someone.

Can I bring a friend?
Yes. Yes you can. Its understandable some of these things can be quite daunting to attend on your own so bringing someone for that social support is always welcome. However, if you are on your own you’ll make friends quite easily and feel comfortable. I was a newbie once so it comes without saying.

Social / Networking and more!
This is the great thing about it. You will get to know people and familiar with their faces and possible twitter names. Any time you get a problem, if you were to tweet a question the community will be straight in to help. Lots of social projects to get involved in too which will help your Tableau skills as well as personal development. Ask about #MakeoverMonday , #WorkOutWednesday , #VizForSocialGood or hey make your own hash tag up and just viz for the fun of it and wait for feedback if you so wish. Once you have met some of the community you will learn about a whole new meaning of events. Here following on from TUGs you have Data+Women, The Tableau Fringe Festival,WannaBePodcast or you might want to join in on the BrightTalk Webinars, or even attend a conference – there is always something going on!

Final thoughts.
Don’t be afraid; be open to join the community. We are essentially a load of interesting and knowledgable people all using the same tool facing the same struggles and having the same goals. Lots of people to learn from, this blog was inspired by new people I met in London who had recently moved here from Europe and hadn’t experienced the London Tableau community, so I thought i’d do my bit to spread the community spirit that little bit further!

Getting Started with Mapbox

Have you seen or heard of Mapbox? I love it. I was shown it a while ago and never had a use case for it until recently when doing some work for a travel company. I wanted to match the map to their online version to what we were building in Tableau.

What is mapbox? It is an online directory of custom built maps for your needs. You can design your own map, build applications, extend applications, use satellite imagery and create static maps. You can even have PIRATE SHIP MAPS Arrrhhhhhh. (in pirate speak)

  1. So first off you’ll have to register with
  2. Once you are logged in go to Account > API access tokens > copy and paste your token. You’ll need this for Tableau.
  3. Open up Tableau > connect to your data source that has geographical locations. For this case we will use the sample sales data set that is preloaded in Tableau.
  4. Map > Background Maps > Map Service to open a pop up box.
  5. Add > Mapbox Services > Classic
  6. Fill in a style name for this map > Paste in the access token you previously copied
  7. Drop the selection box down and it will provide a list of classic maps already for your use. For this case we are going to use Emerald.
  8. Take your city dimension from the data set > double click or drag and drop to populate a map. See below the before and after without mapbox and with.
Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 11.23.34
Before Mapbox
Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 11.22.38
With Mapbox Emerald


If you make multiple mapbox maps and want to populate different styles on different worksheets, you can!

  1. Maps > Background Maps > Emerald. Here you have a list of maps that you have created – notice I have pirates sat there too. Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 11.29.13
Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 11.27.46
Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 11.28.10

So here you have a basic understanding of using mapbox – you can go further and learn more look out for the next blog post.

Happy Mapping, literally go explore!

Post TCoT London – Starting with strangers, leaving with friends.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 17.03.11

Now we are all back to our Tableau day jobs thought it would be a good idea to share experiences from the Tableau Conference on Tour and what it is like on the sponsor side rather than the attendee side.

First off it was great! If you don’t go, why not? You should. From the amount of seminars, keynotes, and networking you can do with the added bonus of free food & drink it keeps you alert! There are so many different seminars to attend which you can all learn something new from. I try to go to the sessions that I’m interested in or the sessions that are super hard but the speaker is going to walk through it step by step and I would benefit more from attending rather than watching tutorials on line.

Being apart of a team that was a sponsor this year was very different from just attending previously, you get to meet and chat to a whole bunch of new people -where as previously you might meet those through a friend. However, people were wanting to come and chat to us see who we are, ask for advice, meet later for a beer safe to say the network of friends from the Tableau community has grown. The other great thing about this conference is you finally get to meet people in person that you’ve been talking Tableau with on Twitter for the past year or so. @EvaMurry@Matt Francis@CharlieHTableau@EmilyKund, @PabloGomez @Nicholas Bignell,

At our stand we brought a reaction game with us to drum up some healthy fun, and competition amongst us all. It was crazy good to watch people battle it out to get the top score, groups of attendees kept coming back to beat each other or check on the highest score and beat that. Our record outside the team was 85. In side our team it was 81 by yours truly – it might of taken a couple of Pimm’s to reach that.

I went to a few keynotes and seminars but one keynote stood out for me and that was Jeff Bernson talk on Malaria in Zambia. His work that him and his team are doing is just phenomenal, its more than just a bar chart about how many sales you have. It is life saving! I was so inspired to go away and look at subjects I know nothing about and to start creating a viz learning from them. That way I can practice my Tableau skills and still learn about the challenges we face today in this world that are blinded by other means of media. It’s such a powerful tool and is doing so well across the globe, it was really refreshing to see something different.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 17.11.49

The keynote from Sir David Spiegelhalter was brilliant in its own right also, thanks to @andycotgrave for pitching that idea. He opened up our minds with the stories of how data can be taken out of context and reported the same story in two different lights. He was very funny had the mass crowd in a huge burst of laughs throughout his speech.

We had the first European IRON VIZ at TCoT London – here the 3 finalist battled it out creating a viz in 20 minutes. Watching their minds work and tableau skills on stage with the added pressure of the crowd starring was also captivating – big congratulations to @DavidPires for winning this year with his awesome viz and a huge well done for the everyone that took part.

#MAKEOVERMONDAY made an appearance on the Monday of course which saw the community create, design, prep and plan for this weeks challenge. AK and Eva Murray really do a great job its spreading like wildfire. I mean if you don’t do #MakeOverMonday do you even Tableau?

I was able to get to two seminars throughout the conference which were Statistical Analysis with Tableau and Pick your poison: LOD or Quick Table Calc – both classes were well delivered, and I walked away with a better understanding as well as the drive needed to learn & research more to use in my daily Tableau life. Id of liked to of attended more but being on the sponsor side we had work to do and people to greet – so it wasn’t to bad.

DataNightOut is always a scream, you see everyone laid back enjoying themselves, raving in the silent disco or a few rounds of mini golf. The theme this year was Make Your Mark – which was quite fitting from the number of Keynotes we had that day.

As this may be a brief summary of my time at TCoT it was so worthwhile to attend. I encourage anyone else to go next year if you don’t learn any new Tableau you will sincerely enjoy yourself and make a ton of new friends.

Kudos to the staff who helped run the event and make it one to not forget.

Looking forward to TCoT 17 in VEGAS!


Conditional Formatting Like a Boss

Finally we have a use case to do Conditional Formatting and it is a bit of a Hack, when its a double whammy of conditional formatting in a cross tab its a double hack.

Everyone uses the RAG status well when using Excel, and you would think a nice highlight table in Tableau would work great. It sometimes doesn’t – Well not for me anyways. We needed to create conditional formatting for one column, which was fine. so follow the steps below. However someone then asked us “How can I get shapes beside it?” So those steps are too below using the Sales Data that Tableau provides. No hidden sheets, no floating charts – everything in one cross tab that updates nicely together. I’ll show you…

WHO; Myself and colleague @Chris Dunigan.

WHAT; One and Two columns with KPI Measures and shapes.

WHEN; May 17th 2017.

WHERE; A clients swish new office in Ireland.

HOW; Follow the steps below.


Step 1) Drag Sub-Category on to the Rows shelf and drop Sales on to the Text label on the marks card.

Step 2) Write you KPI Colours Calculation – something similar to the below to split out your values based on what your KPI scoring is. For example 1-4 = Low, 5-10 = Medium, 11+ = High.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 20.37.36

Step 3) Change the Marks card drop down to a bar, you will see something resemble like the below – don’t worry.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 11.27.28

Step 4) Here is the trick – Drag Numbers of Records on to the size button on the marks card.

Right Click on Number of Records > Measure(Sum) > change to Maximum

Click on the size button on the marks card and alter the size of the bar to make it as thick as you like.

Step 5) Drop the KPI Colour Sales Calculation you created on to the colours button on your marks card. Hey presto – conditional formatting.

NB: you can add months, to see the finer breakdown of the calc that you made as it is currently set to every sales in the data set. So everything could be coloured as High at this moment. 


Step 1) Create a calculated field and call it 0 inside the text box type 0.0. Press ok. Create a second calculated field and call it 1, inside the text box type 1.0. Press ok!

Step 2) Place Category and Sub-Category on to the rows shelf and place Order Date in to the filters box, select Month Year then December 2016. (If using the sales data, following along).

Step 3) Place your new calculations on to the columns shelf. 0 and then 1, right click and change these two pills to a Dimension.

Step 4) Drag your 1 calc on to the size option on 0 marks card, then right click and change the measure of Sum to MAXIMUM. Tableau might not of put the default Gantt Bar on, but you can change this by dropping down the automatic arrow and select Gantt Bar.

Throughout this exercise you will get duplicated marks cards so it is key to stay following along so you don’t get mixed up


Step 5) Next you want to drag your new KPI Colour Sales Calc on to the colour option on your 0 marks card. You will see your bars on the left change colours – note they may not be the correct RAG colour status at this point but we can change that later.

Step 6) Now drop your sales measure on to the text box on your marks card 1

Step 7) Move to the 1 calc pill on you column shelf, right click and select dual axis – given it might not look very pretty yet, just wait.

Step 8) Drag the same calculated fields 0 & 1 on to the column shelf again and turn them in to dimensions buy right clicking > dimension.

Your shelfs should look like the below


Step 9) Take calculation 1 and drop it on to the size option on your 0(2) Marks card, right click and change the measure from sum to maximum. Also change the colour option on your marks card to white.

Step 10) Create a calculated field and call it KPI Sales Shapes. You want to have the same measures as the previous KPI field on the left so the shapes match the direction of the RAG status. I changed from Low, Medium and High to Up, Down and No Change.


Step 11) Click to your 1(2) Marks card and change the automatic drop down to shape so the shape option now appears on the card. Here you need to drop your new KPI Sales Shape calculation on to shape.

Step 12) You can assign shapes to your new measures by selecting shape, default in the new dialogue box that appears, drop the arrow down and select arrows. Scroll through to find the appropriate arrows.

NB: If you are only showing two shape values, put a date filter on for December 2016 so we can limit the data shown to match the calculated fields and see the different colours working. 

Step 13) Click on the second 1 pill on your column shelf and select dual axis. Go through each of the marks cards and drag OFF Measure Values.


Step 14) So now you have your dual KPI measures in one cross tab and we want to tidy it up. Bear with me… Right click on the bottom axis and select edit axis. Delete the 0 that is populated in the tittle box, and select NONE both times on the tick marks tab. You will see the bottom axis disappear. You still want to keep the 1 on the top of the axis to name the columns. Repeat this step for the second axis with your shapes keeping the 1 on top.

Step 15) If you haven’t already you can drag the columns smaller in size. And change the colour of your bars to Red, Green, Amber.

Step 16) Right click on the top of the axis, edit axis, and change the title in the general tab to ‘RAG Scores’ (or what ever else you want to name it). Go to the ticks tab and again select NONE for both options. Press ok.

Repeat step 16 for the second 1 axis at the top of your shape column – label this one ‘RAG shape’ or don’t name it at all,  just delete the 1. Do press none on the ticks tab.

Step 17) You can format your columns by aligning the text on the 1 marks card and by altering the size of the coloured bars on the 0 marks card 

Hopefully you will have something that looks like this below.

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.38.22

Going furhter…

To expand further on this, you could turn your shapes measure in to a quick table calculation to show the growth and decline of the previous month. You could add a third axis of received items, against delivered items followed by the %. Instead of the second column being shapes you can add a different KPI measure such as sales against profit.

Credit also goes to the original author who discovered using 1.0 and 0.0 to do this. I watched a quick video, and have now taught this hack in training – hence thought to share this blog.

Let me know how you get on following the steps…

5 tips to get you by…

Wow, it has been a long time since I last blogged. I got married, went to Thailand got treated for Malaria, since found out it was Typhoid, left a job, started a new job and now moving house. What a busy month! Lets back to it

Whilst I was away I couldn’t help but think of work (guilty), and wanted to share 5 tips that would help new starters get by for the start of their Tableau life and to preach ‘let the data speak for itself’. I know a lot of these tips are shared across many other blogs but I like these ones and had a miracle moment when I found them out. Sharing is caring remember, here they are – I said 5 but really it’s 7….

  1. Blank Calc.

This is a sneaky trick only those who know, know about it. It takes away the annoying ‘ABC’ when you are just trying to show values against some measures. Understandable as always with Tableau there is different ways of doing things. I like using Blank as its an easy reminder when I go back to look at the viz X amount of time down the line. You can change your marks card to Polygon instead. Here below is Blank;



HOW? – Create a calculation called Blank – inside the calculation window put double quotation marks with a space in-between, like the screenshot above. Drop the pill on the Text box on the Marks card and you will see ABC disappear. Adjust the sizes of the cross tab to condense empty spaces.


  1. Advanced pills.

You know that moment when your employer asks you to make it look like Excel? The sentence we all shudder at! Well, Tableau has a default limit of 6 pills on a shelf. You are trying to make a cross-tab adding all the pills to replicate a data sheet and they start joining together in one column going crazy. Now go to the top ribbon in your Tableau workbook to find Analysis > Table Layout > Advanced…> change the default from 6 to 16max > ok. Then waala you can add a number of different measures and dimensions.

NB: You’ll have to update for Maximum levels of row labels AND maximum levels of horizontal row labels


  1. Overcrowding.

Making sure your dashboards are not full of graphs and charts that have no meaning or story value. You want your dashboard to basically paint a picture, to ensure those decisions are made on a clear basis. Less is more when it comes to dashboards, anything to not help confuse the reader and to keep everything neat and tidy… We all know it is better when the data speaks for itself.


  1. Draw out your viz and get to know your data.

This is a double whammy tip but they are both very important. If you don’t know your data how do you know what you are trying to showcase and build? Get to know the trends that are happening and what to use for comparing / contrasting. I always have drawn up pictures of charts that I want to create; as I am not a budding artist it mostly looks like lines on a paper with labels. To have my X and Y-axis in front of me to use as a reference helps me keep focused to the end result of what I am trying to achieve. As well as a rough scale of the layout helps keep in mind what you are showing and remind you what you data measures you are looking at.

  1. Information buttons.

I saw these on a training video and it has changed my Tableau visualisation life! Its so simple yet so effective and people love it. When building dashboards you might be asked to exclude certain fields that aren’t always obvious, so it’s worth putting a little icon that the users can scroll over to learn further information. Some examples I found using these are;

  • Definitions to a subject you are displaying,
  • A formula for a bespoke sum based on a business,
  • What is included or excluded from the findings like cancelled jobs.
  • It could be an explanation to the business as to why you are only showing the previous 3 years instead of 4.
  • Businesses have different Fiscal Years – so you can use the information button as a reminder if again it isn’t obvious.


  1. Freebie tip ! – Filters alignment (you probably already know this)

Now when you have multiple pages of dashboards you might have the same filters on each page. Given you might not have worked out parameters and filters once selected every paged dashboard changes. But at the start and always-going forward I recommend keeping the filters in the SAME order on each dashboard if they are duplicated. I have had to create a project with 3 dashboards inside and they wanted the same filters on each page (don’t ask why) so I made sure the filters were all aligned correctly, matching order, colour and font. It looks neater and makes the users journey a lot smoother to get around.

YTD Calculation-ing

SO lately, I have been trying to get my head around Date Calculations in Tableau! Yes, they can be straightforward and super but when you are asked to make bespoke Fiscal Years (FY) and to show cumulative months for this year compared to last year it got a little crazy.

I was not sure about writing a blog on this, as I am not too sure I can explain it correctly, and then I figured someone would need this hefty calculation as a lot of business have a lot of different FY. I was encouraged (pushed) by Andre de Vries to blog about it and helped by Andrew Pick to figure this one out… Here goes.

To Start with I had to make a Parameter to show case what values I wanted the users to select – here we have chosen FY2014, FY2015, FY2016, FY2017, Rolling 12m, and All. (ignore YTD for now) –  I had this calcs already but the YTD cumulative months is what I was stuck with. Here below is a my parameter;


With each parameter comes a calcs – it’s like cheese and pineapple, pie and chips, or even fish and chips it just goes together its needed and works wonderfully well.

So here is the date calculation I already had from previous working outs to get to the bespoke FY


The calculation is valid inside dance *:-)*

It is great that Tableau colours the different measures you use in your calculations to make them easily identifiable – it helps when things break and you need to narrow down the problem. Thanks Tableau well done on that! Therefore, we know the purple means it is a Parameter, the orange is a Measure or Dimension and the blue is a calculation method. I am asking my ‘Period All’ to fit between the dates shown.

This worked perfectly, well until I was asked to make cumulative dates compared to last year and this year, I’ve made a chart below which I hope explains it better.


Here is where I needed  help from The Information Lab and for this I had Andrew Pick to my assistance, we went back and forth on emails trying to understand what we actually needed and how to make it work in the predefined calculation I already had.

Andrew had sent me this calculation below to get the YTD cumulative value, and inside it are two other calcs so I have listed them below also.

First – YTD Calculation


Then – Month Conversion


Next – Today Month Conversion


So that was the three calculations I had to make my YTD cumulative work, I was really thankful for the help and off I went to go and add this calculation in to my main ‘Period All’ calc.

I went away and worked on it for an hour or two adding the YTD calculation as it appears as show or hide to the filters shelf and the parameter was working perfect except for when you would select ‘YTD’ and ‘All’ so I was stumped.

Back to Andrew where he had explained to me I needed to change my ‘Period All’ calculation from

 > to >=

And that I didn’t need the show hide option on my filters box because we had already predefined it in the parameter calculation. Doh!

Below is the result of the calculation to make it work in its glory!


If this explanation does not make sense try and apply this calculation at the start without the YTD method using your own dates, measures to see if it works. Then build it up from the bottom adding YTD!

Good Luck – Happy Calculationing

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑