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.

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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

Think about the users journey…

After attending a few Tableau User Groups and speaking to the community I always wanted to see what everyone’s ‘best practices’ were, what are the routes people take to get to the end viz? After attempting to complete a #WorkoutWednesday it became known that myself and Charlie go about some vizzes the same way in getting to the end result. It was rather spooky, relate-able, great minds think a like moment with how close both our blogs were. Therefore, here is my thought process…

When I am handed a requirements request I like to draw out ideas in my head or on the nearest scrap piece of paper I can find. This helps the requester understand what it will look like and give the full picture to work too for myself. It could range from 4 – 6 boxes built up of line and bar charts. It lets the requester say ‘No I’d like the line graph on the left, the bar at the top’ etc. It helps them as much as me; requirement gathers are by far one of the best part in this journey.

Here is some rough pictures I have used before…

When I get to the data side, I go through to understand what measure and dimensions I will have to play with and ask myself the following questions:

  • What makes up the column names?
  • What does half of these columns mean – I do not know everything that goes through my work place so it is okay to ask questions.
  • What date fields are we having to take in to consideration?
  • Do I need to add many calculations or are they already there built in the data source?
  • Do I need to rename any fields to make it easier?
  • How many rows are there?
  • What is the end goal?
  • What is it they want to see but cannot explain in words?

This starts to build up a picture of what I am about to work with – sometimes it is going down a rabbit hole and you have no idea but, if you think of questions to ask yourself you can be pretty prepared for it.

It is important to keep the data story you are creating efficient and to make sense to yourself as well as the end users. Keep the data points away from being over complicated, use tool-tips to the max to help understand, make the titles of the charts dynamic so when you have a filter or parameter selected they all change – like magic! It might seem small having dynamic titles but I always get great feedback on this and it helps remind what you are looking at. I am always told to think about the user’s journey. Not everyone can understand a cross tab full of figures and names, so we need to turn these multiple rows into a story so the users can easily understand and identity their data to make decisions on the fly.

Now, if I have to work backwards from a viz on #MakeoverMonday or a dashboard that I see and want to recreated, then I try to reverse engineer. As mentioned previously I carry my Tableau Bible everywhere with me and this is built up of pages full of calculations that I will not always remember. It is a great reference point; yes maybe a little old-fashioned hand writing them out.

If this ever got set on fire, I would be in trouble.

Reverse engineering now is my favourite way to learn new things in Tableau, and exploring different data sets. You get the moment of ‘who knew that could happen’. Learning from others is a great way to learn and pick up new tricks whether that’s blogs, videos, networking or trial and error.

Thanks for reading a small snip-it of how I get to my end Viz.

Am I winning or am I losing?

You will need a cup of tea for this, sit tight.

OK, so I had thought I would give the #WorkoutWednesday a go even though I feel completely out of my depth. I have already been watching Twitter seeing everyone’s tweets about the tool tips and LoD calcs so at least I am mentally prepared for the battle that is about to begin. Have I mentioned LoD calcs give me nightmares; I have been in dire need of using it but have not yet. I’m told I will need a use case for them, I understand the theory but not the practice – so let us hope today is a winner.


To start with, @Andre sent me the data in an Excel file; I plugged it in to Tableau to get a ton of years and was like what, this is not right. SO already, I went in and stole the data set from other workbooks so it is neatly laid out ready to go. I started with copying what was easily identifiable from the screen shot to my X and Y-axis (see above). You can tell it is a date field on the top, so I added the year and then used every measure to match the Y-axis. And no luck 😦

I left that and moved on to something else, in Andy’s instructions he mention you need to select a different stat – so that I knew was a parameter – dropped down his selection and wrote out the text in my parameter.


You already know with every parameter comes a calc so I knew that was my next step; an IF statement – I know some people have IF arguments, this worked for me and I knew it. #Winning number 1


After this I became a bit stuck, and unfortunately had to download the workbook and have a look, I didn’t want to completely undo myself I wanted to try and work it out from at least the measures before opening up the pills and seeing what made them. The first one was 25th Percentile – I was stumped, what does that even mean? Went to my trusty friend Google to get some answers and figured it was the 25% mark out of the 100% – but that was wrong too so I had to open the pill and look to re learn and figure out. Darn.

Next the pill Stat. So I knew this one – it is the calc we just made for our stats selection and that was showing the Median – if in doubt right click and hey presto it was there! #Winning number 2

It turned out as below, after I put the axis to dual – even my parameter was working #winning number 3.


So, what do I do now, why does Andy have his years on the top and long bars and a different number layout on the Y-Axis, what is this wizardry? Made a dual axis, sync’d it – again hey presto I had years on the top. #Winning number 4

I noticed there was a 75th Percentile – I mean I just did this one so surely it is the same calc but with 75? I tried it and it said our favourite message appearing ‘this calculation is valid’ yeessss #Winning number 5 I was pretty chuffed – did not know what it meant but it works, who cares. (Jokes I did care). I dropped that on the size marks card and we have lines, fat long chunky lines. #Winning number 6!

Then QBs in range – I saw this was on the tool tip card, I already knew people had trouble with the tool tips and I had heard there would be a LoD calc – holey moly I opened it and there it was in its glory. Let us just take a second, what? I get the idea yes I really do – but how to create that off my own back – no chance.


I played around with many of the features and tried to figure out some more of the calcs. The 75th TD was interesting, as I guessed it was using a different measure and noticed TD by luck – so duplicated all the calcs that needed TD (from AK’s viz) changed the measure to TD and they all worked. #Winning number 7 – I then had to rename a few of them measures to understand it more in my head, instead of saying TD this and TD that I edited the alias and would repeat the actions saying Touchdown this and Touchdown that… It works for me– if I see it how it is meant to do without shortcuts, I may remember it more.

Lessons learnt – what did I learn today? Well percentiles to start with, I mean so simple yet so complex. Then LoD calcs – let us not even go there, I think I have a fear! Thanks to @Andre at the end for explaining, I needed to turn my year into decimals – who knew? Although my X-Axis did not fancy the change clearly because it is still wrong.

Also to tick ‘none’ on the X-Axis for your tick marks to hide the years – sneaky. As well, I went over some calcs in the main viz and noticed a CASE Statement used – I used an IF Statement, why would they be different? Therefore, I took this moment to do some research to learn about the differences, concluded over developer preference…That could be wrong. Now I can use both – I am taking that as #winning number 8

I also learned I should be a little more confident in my work and findings because you do know, and you will figure it out and it is ok to cheat. It is better to cheat a little and learn new things then to cheat a lot and learn nothing.

So thanks Andy K – this one is for you.


P.S. This might look like a fail attempt but I really tried, and actually learnt a lot from failing. What doesn’t knock you down builds you up – come at me next week!!/




I’m Just Like You…

Welcome, it’s my first Blog – if you couldn’t tell. I wanted to share my experiences and help others to grow, learn and develop.

So I started off with Tableau like a deer in the headlights as everyone else probably did, I still don’t even understand everything I am doing but its great, it gives me challenges everyday and keeps me involved. However, you know what the best thing is to do – trial and error! I have learnt not to be afraid of testing this theory, or figuring it out thinking “well if that doesn’t work, try this” until you find the solution you are aiming for. If I do figure it out, I tend to make a note of it, and carry my Tableau bible everywhere with me. No one expects you or me to remember everything.

With Tableau, you can explore so many different areas, and the community is the best to get new ideas from and share experiences or even troubleshoot some problems as well as sharing frustrations. We all have that moment when Tableau does not work, or tableau is having a slight meltdown or you’re having that meltdown in a data rabbit hole.

I wanted to start blogging after inspiration from a pool of other data friends out there, after reading their blogs and sitting back watching all the data madness I believed it was time that I too would join the crowd, I’m sure I even dream about what I am going to say in my blog post – and here we are!

So let’s start with my first #MakeOverMonday I kept this simple and followed the lines of a bar chart – we all know bar charts inside out. I always feel like sometimes I should push the realms of possibility but then I end up creating a bar chart and hey presto it makes sense without all the tricks. If you’ve come across @ChrisLuv you’d know he uses the KISS method  – ‘Keep It Simple Silly’ or stupid which ever you prefer. 😀

It does the job, it tells you women are paid significantly lower than what men do in Australia, I have even put a filter on occupation so you can select above the bar chart. Then followed by a percentage of gender types in that particular work place. What more do you need?

You can make a quick snap shot decision based on a simple visualisation without the headache of figuring out what is what. #MakeOverMonday – reason No.212 (exaggerated a little there) why it is a good weekly challenge to learn from. A simple bar chart, yes, but you can derive more questions from it to go build on whether on your viz or more vizzes! So here you can go away and ask yourself, why do Women get paid less? Is it the education system? Is it the job system? Is it because women are more likely to stay at home? Who knows – but lots to dig deeper from a simple bar chart. Yay.