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Viz Club – BBQs and Drinking Fountains in Melbourne

Viz Club is Back!

We revived Viz Club after interest on Twitter (and since Eva Murray and Carsten Weidmann were in town!). I was running late that day and unbeknownst to me, everyone else at Viz Club that day.. had no idea how it worked.

For the London group, I think I’ve figured out a formula:

1. #ThrowbackThursday on Spotify.

Something about Michael Jackson/ABBA/everything 80’s just seems to have the right head bop/shoulder shimmy for a weeknight viz session.

2. The Viz Driver

In this case it was Lorna because Pablo volunteered her first. Sneaky tricks from Coach Kriebel at play!

3. Backseat drivers

i.e. the rest of us. Sarah Bartlett, Amanda Patist, Ian Baldwin, Charlie Hutcheson, Naledi Hollbruegge, Tommy Lees, Eva Murray  and Carsten Weidmann. But to be fair, I’m 80% certain Ian was there because I highjacked his computer since it was already connected to the speaker – so he couldn’t go home.

4. Beer and pizzas.


Its a rough gig being the driver- but I think its a nice payoff, getting a free viz to post to your profile after. Check out this piece of magic!

The Data

We explored Melbourne’s Public Assets – namely shape files on Melbourne’s sidewalks, water fountains, barbecues and its City Circle tram. We connected through Exasol, already preloaded by Eva and Carsten for us 😀

Looking at this data was a nice distraction from the snow warning we got on the news.  Eva kindly found the data and even pushed the shape files through Alteryx to create the .tdes!

Exploring the data

It turned out that all the datasets were maps. Which is why its not surprising one of our first views came out like this. We call him “Map Man”.



We eventually started understanding which fields go where on the canvas. Here’s us mesmerized by sidewalks dataset.

There’s something so soothing about seeing map data plotted perfectly against a background map.



Tableau Techniques

One of the upsides of Viz Club (other than a sensible weeknight party) is learning Tableau!

Using Mapbox in Tableau

I use mapbox pretty often, but quite a few people didn’t know how exactly to hook it up to Tableau. After showing that all you needed was a free license key to plop into the maps section– voila! “Ooos” and “ahhhs” all arround. If you’re interested, the map is the free “Pirates” theme – who knew right?


Flat Icon and The Noun Project for Free Icons

If you’re in need of a free icons – look up Flat Icon and The Noun Project. Great selection and usability! Thank you Pablo and Lorna for those!


How to color an Image Shape

This tip made me go “Hold up – rewind – what did you just do??”.

If you’re using images in your shape files, you can color them by creating a new dimension (“Tram”) then putting it on color!


All this Tableau-ing is hard work! Time to refuel!



Finally Dashboarding!

After searching Google Images for inspiration, we find this awesome picture of the City Circle Tram. To try and make it more palatable as a background, we used floating text boxes with shading so the map (and upcoming unit charts) don’t look too harsh against the detailed image.


Guest Appearance by Cynthia Andrews!

Data Rules Me stopped by to check out our viz session and gave us some great tips on making this mobile.

  • Never use floating on a mobile viz (thank goodness we had device designer)
  • Always fit width since folks are already used to scrolling

Looks pretty good IMO! We created a custom image for the top since we wanted to keep the image/banner, but everything else is just the sheets with our custom color background.


Final Thoughts

Overall, it was a really fun night! I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did, and its always great fun choosing design options, and thinking about where the story should go as a group!

Plus, its hard to beat this:



Until next time folks!


Thatcher Thatcher Milk Snatcher: Make your Data Stories More Engaging with this Amazing Tableau Tip!

Just want to say upfront that VizClub March Edition was a huge improvement on the last session.

  • #ThrowbackThursday was on (that was me)
  • The dataset was required less than 3.5 hours of cleanup (thank you JMac)
  • Beer was on tap (which I got in on since I realized Coffee and Pizza just didn’t make sense)

Big shout out to Sophie who was kind enough to provide the pizzas despite being sick.

Sophie also made another huge contribution to our viz session – being the first to introduce unicode characters as a navigation element to create a fluid user experience. I first wrote about unicode characters in vizzes with the Data School so I’m always finding new uses for them.  It’s so easy to do, I’ll be stealing it for my own future vizzes!

Here’s a gif of the viz moving through the storypoints with unicode characters.

Read below on how to do this for your own vizzes!

Step 1: Copy and Paste a Large Circle Unicode character  (like this one!) into your storypoints template.

Step 2: Here’s the magic. Set the font so the unicode character will stand out.

Here I’ve set it to size 28. Go into Story->Format and set the shading in Navigator to “No Fill”. Then squish the titles on the top and bottom so they line up perfectly line a series of dots…just like navigating through a slick app.

Voila! Next level design in 1 minute right?

Getting back to Viz Club, in terms of exploring the dataset, we found a couple of interesting insights.

  • Overall consumption of sugar as a product in itself has gone down over the years (probably displaced by other sugary products)
  • Vegetable consumption has also gone down 🙁

Then somehow we got to the introduction of our story when we were looking at the consumption of milk in the early 80s. Wondering why there was a spike in ’82, we realized that Margaret Thatcher’s tax cuts in education boomed the consumer market for milk. For me and Andy, who are from North America, this is something we never knew about UK politics!

Couldn’t believe it actually shows up in the google search

Another interesting insight was looking at how potato consumption has changed in the UK.

@davidmpires Took this picture of the area charts of potatoes. I think the dip was actually due to a bad crop year, rather than a sudden decreased appetite.  @davidmpires Took this picture of the area charts of potatoes. I think the dip was actually due to a bad crop year, rather than a sudden decreased appetite.

You might be curious to wonder why the middle of that horrendous area chart there is a dip. Luckily we were too, and found out there was a heatwave in 1976 and a potato shortage in the US.

More importantly, what did people eat if not potatoes? Turns out, they SWITCHED to a new market of potatoes – notably instant potatoes.

By the way, if you click on the this image, it will take you to this viz where the ad will start playing. This was intentional as we've already established it was #throwbackthursday and automatic music on websites was THE hip thing to do in the 2000's #RIPmyspace. By the way, if you click on the this image, it will take you to this viz where the ad will start playing. This was intentional as we’ve already established it was #throwbackthursday and automatic music on websites was THE hip thing to do in the 2000’s #RIPmyspace.

Apparently the people at Cadbury’s were smart cookies and did this very clever(?) ad for Smash Mash Potatoes. I’m told everyone and their grandmother has seen this but here it is if you haven’t. Skyrocketed the sales of instant potatoes I’m sure.

We capped off the night with another beer as I sped formatted the viz. Overall, it was a fantastic night of pizza, beer and learning about politics and robot aliens! Can’t wait for the next one 😀