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How to Label Above Individual Bars

Wanted to share this technique on labeling dimensions above bars as an alternative to the default top align in Tableau.

Step 1: Create a Bar Chart

Step 2: Create a Dummy Continuous Variable

Tableau doesn’t allow you to align above the mark in a bar chart.. so we need to get creative and create a second mark that sits above the one we want to label, then hide traces of that mark.

To do this, I’ve created a continuous variable for Tableau to create a second axis (remember, these green pills will always draw an axis and create another mark).

0.01 is an arbitrary value but preferably one that is very small relative to the actual value you’ll be displaying. In my case, I have sales rendering in the thousands, so a value of 0.01 is sufficiently small.

Creating a dummy variable to draw a second axis and mark on the sheet. Creating a dummy variable to draw a second axis and mark on the sheet.

Step 3: Bring the new Continuous Variable to the View.

Dual axis and pills and synchronize the values.

Step 4: Bring Measure Names to Rows

Here’s the key to how it all works: “measure names” on rows. You’ll find this pill in the dimensions panel. This will separate the the “Dummy” measure and the “Sales” measure into 2 bars.

Then on the “Dummy” mark, bring the Dimension you would like to label onto text. You should get something like this.

The key to this is that we've plotted 2 measures together, but we're only using the dummy measure/mark as a way to label the below bar.   If you're finding the label is below the bar, simply switch the order of the green pills in columns. The key to this is that we’ve plotted 2 measures together, but we’re only using the dummy measure/mark as a way to label the below bar.   If you’re finding the label is below the bar, simply switch the order of the green pills in columns.

Step 5: Clean up your headers

Here I’m just hiding the headers we’ve created to structure the data in  the view and remove distractions.

That’s it! Hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.

Happy Vizzing!

How to Search for Short Lists in Tableau

Ever have a situation where you’ve got 10 or 20 individual items or order numbers you want to search for? It’s a pain to select each individual value (say for instance, we just want to look up a batch of OrderIDs).

How can we build something easy in Tableau to make this happen?

I built this dashboard so we can envision what this could look like. It’s got some top level metrics when nothing is entered, but will dynamically change to views on order ideas when they are copy and pasted into the search box!

And it’s easy to build in Tableau! Just a couple calculations and you’ll be on your way.

Step 1: Create a Parameter:

Make sure you’ve set it to string.

Step 2: Create the Calculation that Operates the Parameter

The action is a pretty simple match — we just have to adjust the inputs so that it will match what we’re putting into the parameter! Hence the addition of the commas on either side of the parameter and OrderIDs in the data.

Here’s the text for quick copy and paste:

if contains(“,” +[Parameters].[Selected Order IDs]+ “,” , “,” + [Order ID]+ “,”)== TRUE then  [Order ID] else NULL END

Then you can just put this pill onto your rows shelf, and it will act as a dynamic dimension.

Step 3: Configuring the Filter with your new Dynamic Dimension

This particular calculation will always give you some sort of NULL value.


Its because of the question we’ve built into the calculation. After all, we are asking Tableau to compare our manually entered parameter values against EACH OrderID in the data. Inevitably there will be a couple that don’t match! These will return the NULLs.

And Tableau is working exactly as we expect – all we have to do is “hide” these nulls.

I’ve chosen to do it with an “Exclude” on the filter with a Custom value list.

BONUS STEP: What do I do if the sheet goes blank?

You’ll notice that if no values are entered, your sheets will turn blank.

In my case, I’ve taken full advantage of that by overlaying sheets that will appear when no values are entered. This is just an extension of the oft-written about Show/Hide sheets functionality based on the number of characters in the parameter.

A pretty specific use case – but I think could have a lot of practical applications especially for call center teams!  Happy Vizzing!

Thoughts on Mobile Iron Viz

This is my second Iron Viz entry but I wanted to share some of my thoughts.


Beige background: I saw this on a couple vizzes in the first round and its stuck with me – pleasantly bland like white but more interesting.

Tile numbers from VizCandy: This has to be one of the original Tableau mobile dashboards. Kelly Martin built an amazing mobile experience…without mobile designer.. like a year ago. #iamnotworthy But now when I think mobile, I think of the tiles — hence why they are in my Iron Viz.

Another design tactic I love about Kelly Martin’s work is how she conveys what I call “color texture” in a viz. The example I always think of is this one:

To me, it brings a complexity/feel that a chart can nicely sit within. I found this photo on a pinterest board. Can you tell the inspiration?

I also tried out a new font – Rockwell. Use with caution as it naturally comes out bold and I still used my favorite Gill Sans MT for the body text and annotations. Everyone always comes out clean and neat with that font!

Personally, i’m a bit disappointed I didn’t get to use more complex visualizations. But I love bar charts so what you gonna do. ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Also disappointed I didn’t produce a FR version given I had both pieces of data.

User Experience on Mobile

Think about how much testing you do on you regular dashboards – then double or triple that for mobile. This medium is probably one of the trickiest to design for – small space and everyone’s operating on different dimensions, not to mention you’ll have to allot margin space for the Tableau Public embed.

For me, I’m on a iPhone 6S but I had to switch the dashboard to the iPhone 5 width to comfortably fit everything. Even then I wouldn’t be surprised if there are formatting boo-boos.

Story Development

If each viz was a sentence in a story, then its pretty hard to write long descriptive sentences in in mobile vizzes. Not only is there no space, but also despite what we are able to fit in on the page, too much distracts from the message… so we kind of gloss over and the experience is forgettable. Despite all the amazing sites, I felt I could only annotate 3 on the map else it too overwhelming for comprehension. Sad but true.

Also, don’t bother designing with tooltips on mobile. I find them pretty unstable. I still used them in my viz because I wasn’t sure if a show/hide floating sheet with the site descriptions would be any better of an experience compared to the hover.  But I just love reading the history that it would be a waste to leave them off.

Hopefully someone is reading them!

How to Easily Share Data Connections in Alteryx

I went to the Alteryx User Group last night in London and had a very good chat with Ben Gomez, Director of Product Management at Alteryx. I told him I won’t get a chance to see his talk this year but he shared one of the tips he’ll be demoing during the conference.

Think of this very common scenario: You’re a jack of all trades analyst and you’re working with datasets from marketing to finance to HR. But everyone stores all their files in different locations and everytime you start a new workflow, you’ve got to reset up all those input tools!

But with this nifty trick of a macro, you can save all that work with a macro bookmark! It makes sharing these inputs a breeze with everyone on your team! #maxefficiency

Here I have a bookmark to a dataset of US post codes and their latitudes and longitudes. Here I have a bookmark to a dataset of US post codes and their latitudes and longitudes.

Super easy to set up too!

Its essentially 2 tools – an input tool with your file and the output macro.

Save as a macro to your macro folder… then pull it up for easy use against your dataset!

If you’re pretty new to Alteryx, you might be wondering how I was able to change the image on my icon. Really easy and very useful if you pick an image that’s relevant to your dataset.

Simply go into View -> Interface Designer

Then Properties… and select your custom icon!

Sometimes the best tips are the simplest ones!

How to Draw a Circle in Tableau

I got a question from Sarah in the Tableau Community on how to draw a circle. I know this has been done before .. but the results for this on the community have come across a bit confusing for me.

Sometimes, there’s just too much brilliance in the Tableau community for my mind to absorb.

For those who just want to draw a circle on their viz, this is for you.