Select Page

# The Data School Blog

## DS21: The Beginning

Starting a new career in the midst of a pandemic is not something I ever thought I would do, but this has definitely been both a refreshing and exciting change!

## How to create a drill down map using parameter actions.

Using a drill down map can offer more detail about a specific location. I’ve used the Tableau Superstore data to create a map that will drill down from Regions to States, shown below.

## Tableau Tip: Adding a Dynamic Reference Line for Continuous Dates

In this blog, I will explain how you can add dynamic reference lines to a time series data which will allow the user to see the data relative to a selected reference date.

## Labelling Top N in a View with Rank Calculation

Quick Top N Labelling method using the RANK table calculation.

## Using TONUMBER() to parse out the first number in a concatenated string field

This is a quick and easy method to return the first value in a concatenated string field without having to get messy with REGEX.

## Spatial functions in Alteryx

What are the benefits of using a formula tool rather than a spatial tool?

## Tableau Time Saver | Change the default aggregation of a measure.

Tableau’s default method of aggregation for a measure is Sum. However, Sum will not always be the most appropriate method of aggregation to use.

## Making a violin plot in Tableau

An brief (and simple) explanation of what a violin plot is and how to make it in Tableau

## Preparing for the Alteryx Designer Core Certification!

DS20 have recently been taking their Alteryx Designer Core Certifications so I wanted to share the tips and tricks I’ve learned that helped me massively in my preparations.

## Tableau Time Saver | Change worksheet actions to Dashboard actions.

I know that something I’ve been guilty of, especially early on in my training, is adding actions to new worksheets to enable the desired interactivity for users. But wait, that’s a good thing right? Well yes ….. until you move that worksheet into a dashboard and suddenly those beautifully formatted worksheet actions don’t work anymore.

## HIDE vs EXCLUDE dimension values in Tableau

Hiding vs excluding in Tableau is not something I had really considered before, because it’s not something I had used much. But it came up in training the other day and it turns out the difference between these two is really important if you’re using table calculations!

## My experience of common practices that led to ineffective dashboard designs in Tableau

At the end of the day, everyone has their own way of designing dashboard, and there is not necessarily one wrong or right way. In this blog I’ve tried to highlight some practices that I myself have been guilty of doing and has limited the full effectiveness of some of my dashboards without me realising.

## Count Weekdays between two dates in Alteryx.

The use of the datediff formula in Alteryx makes it easy to count how many days there are between two dates, but what if you only wanted to count the weekdays?

## Alteryx Designer Core – Using the text input tool

I recently passed the Alteryx Designer Core certification so I wanted to share the tool that helped me out massively, the text input tool as well as some quick fire tips about the certification.

## How to create dynamic tooltips in Tableau!

Tooltips are a brilliant way in Tableau to offer extra insight into what your visualization is showing. Having a dynamic tooltip allows users the same flexibility in tooltips that they’d see elsewhere on their dashboards.

## Documenting & Annotating your workflow in Alteryx

There are the 4 things I use in Alteryx to help me keep track of what I’m learning at the Data School or help me track what each tool is doing in a workflow. This blog will take you through each.

## How to input data set values into an Alteryx drop-down menu

There isn’t an immediately-apparent way in Alteryx to populate a drop-down menu from a column in your dataset. But don’t worry, there is a workaround!

## How to build a, wait, what’s it called?

Ever wanted to build a chart but didn’t know where to look for advice on how to build it? I go through 5 chart types that will take your analysis to the next level as well as providing sample charts and blogs on how to build them.

## Tableau Time Saver | Quickly replicate formatting between worksheets.

If you have a lot of worksheets in a particular workbook, it can be time consuming if you have to format them all the same way. Now I know what you’re thinking:
“If only there was a way to copy the formatting from one worksheet and apply it to another!” Well don’t worry dear reader, there is!

## TOTAL( ) vs WINDOW_SUM( )

In our client project this week, the dashboards we were looking at had some calculations containing the TOTAL( ) function. It left me wondering, what’s the difference between TOTAL( ) and WINDOW_SUM( )?

## Dynamic highlighting using Parameters on a Parallel Coordinates chart

This blog follows on from a 5-min video I made with instructions on how to create a Parallel Coordinates chart. If you're not sure how to make one, feel free to follow along here. By the end of the video, I created something that looks like this This blog will take...

## How to merge spatial objects in Alteryx

Did you know there is a ‘spatial tool’ in Alteryx that is not a Spatial Tool? Say you wanted to combine several spatial objects into one. The quickest way to do that is with a summarize tool.

## Moving Sum comparison – YoY % difference by month

During my last project I was asked to create a moving 12 months sum of revenue for each month and then compare the sum to the moving 12m sum of the same month one year earlier for each of the displayed last 12 months and display a % change between those values. The...

## Being responsible when visualising data in an unfamiliar topic

I've just completed my dashboard for week 27 2020 of Makeover Monday, the topic is on self reporting of the presence of symptoms of mental health experienced over the last week. Like usual, my cohort DS20 dove in to the data to see what we could create in the hour we...

## What did it take to get into DS20?

DS20 is underway. The work they created to get into the Data School was quite impressive.

## How to create a Sankey chart.

While Sankey charts may seem daunting at first, they’re a great way to show a change of flow between more than one category or condition. For this example we’re looking at how the sum of sales changes between Regions and Categories in the Tableau Superstore data.

## Using the Show/Hide container button as a way to prompt users for additional data

Show/Hide container buttons within dashboards help to declutter the view and make it easier to understand the data. But sometimes, it is not always clear to the user that they can click the show/hide button to view more hidden data. There are many ways to resolve this but I wanted to share an idea that I think may prompt the user in a more understandable way.

## Outer and Inner Padding in Tableau Dashboards

When you start creating dashboards in Tableau, you may find yourself experimenting with the different options in the 'Layout' tab. Padding is a great way to create space between different elements in your dashboard. It can make your dashboard look less cluttered and...

## How to add extra information to a sparkline

While basic sparklines can give insight into trends within data, how can we add an additional level of detail to them?

## Dimensions and Measures in Tableau – what they are and how to use them

An attempt at trying to explain dimensions and measures without mentioning continuous and discrete fields?

## Quick Visualisations: Sparkbars with Colour

Similar to Sparkline charts, Sparkbar charts are small, lightweight charts that typically do not have axis. They’re a quick and amazing way of visualising your data, without needing the complexity of a full blown chart.

## How to swap dimension order without changing the sort

The order that Dimensions are placed in columns or rows will affect how the view is sorted In the view below we have two dimensions, a player name column and a calculation column that indicates whether each player did better in their last season compared to the one...

## How to create a Pareto chart in Tableau

Use Tableau to create a Pareto chart

## Diverging Bar Chart With ‘Dynamic’ Fixed Axis

Fix the scales of a diverging bar chart with a pair of hidden reference lines.

## Spark interest with a sparkline.

Sparklines are a tiny chart, usually drawn without axes, that enables you to quickly compare trends over given values. I’ve found they’re a great way to compare trends in values over time. You might use a sparkline to compare seasonal increases or decreases, stock market values or to highlight the maximum (or minimum) values.

## Pareto Analysis Curve with reference lines

Pareto Analysis is used in business to compare the impact of one variable on another variable. It is based on the 80/20 rule – often businesses will find that 80% of an output variable comes from 20% of an input variable. In a positive sense, a company might be able...

## How to build a Slope Graph using rank

Ranking is a great way to not only visualise your data, but also offers some great analysis. I’ll show you how to rank your slope graphs and how to optimise them using colour.

## Tableau String Calculation: FINDNTH( ) – Finding the position of a letter or sub-string within a longer string

Today we were given an overview of many of Tableau's functions, one of which was the String Function FINDNTH. It allows you to find the position of a particular letter or sub-string within a string. • Continue reading to learn about how to use it. • Scroll down to...

## #easierthanithought: Tableau Keyboard Shortcuts

As I come to the end of my second week of training at The Data School, I wanted to share some keyboard shortcuts I discovered during training this week.

## How to build a bullet chart in Tableau with reference lines

In this tutorial we will learn how to build a bullet chart.

## Bar Charts with Reference Line

Reference lines can provide great detail to your analysis as well as visual aid. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but something I found exceptionally cool!

## Datetrunc, Datepart, Datename

What’s the difference between DATETRUNC, DATEPART and DATENAME?

## How to stop highlighting when selecting a mark. | Tableau Tip

In tableau when a mark is selected that mark will be highlighted. This can be useful, but often I find myself more annoyed that all other marks have been greyed out. So what’s the solution? Fear not! It’s fairly simple.

## Tableau server REST API calls monitoring part 3 – Dashboard

This is a last part of a series of 3 blog posts about monitoring REST API requests on Tableau server and it focuses around the final output - tableau dashboard. Part 1 here Part 2 here The Vizportal Workbook from Logshark primarily displays data for all administrative...

## How context filters affect calculations

I first came across context filters while looking at how to optimise the performance of my very first dashboard. I added some filters to context, didn't immediately notice any difference in performance and then took them off again without a second thought. Unbeknownst...

## Commenting on a field – Tiny Tableau Tip

This is nothing earth-shattering, but if, like me, you used to document your dataset in a separate Word document (please don’t judge me!) then this tip is very useful.

## Use hierarchies to quickly investigate spatial data

In order to quickly breakdown the profit across a region, we can use the hierarchy feature in Tableau to drill down and increase the granularity.

## Conditional Filtering – Simple, yet effective

Ever wanted to filter out data based on a condition but just didn’t know how? Well, look no further, here I explain exactly how to do that and in what cases it may prove useful.

## Combined Sets – Illustrated with Quadrants

A quick example to visually illustrate how sets overlap and can be combined to create combined sets.

## #easierthanithought : Replacing old fields with new ones

Imagine you created your dashboard, but then realised the field names were wrong so you went back to the data source to rename it. Now these old fields show up as an error on your dashboard. Tableau conveniently has an quick option called ‘Replace References’ which allows you to swap one field for another.

## How to get States to appear on your map

When I first downloaded Tableau, I started double-clicking around the page to try to figure out what was what. I was drawn to it immediately, but later I realised how limited I would be without some extra help from blog posts and videos. Even then though, there was...

## Filter order of operations for Tableau.

During the DS20s first ‘Tableau Fundamentals’ lesson today, we were introduced to the idea of having multiple filters in one sheet. The questions on everyone’s mind: “What order will the filters happen in?” and “Can we change which order the filters happen in?”. The answer to these questions lies in the Order of Operations.

## Tableau server REST API calls monitoring part 2 – Logs and Logshark

Logs and Logshark as steps for developing REST API requests monitoring dashboard

## Tableau server REST API calls monitoring part 1

During my recent client assignment, I was asked to develop a dashboard for monitoring REST API calls on server. Admins wanted to make sure that the person that was permitted access via REST API was only doing what was included in the project scope - in this case...

## Week 1 Round-up

The first week of DS20 may have been delayed, may have started remotely but it was hands-on from day one. Find out what we got up to and some of what I learned along the way.

## Joining The Data School Virtually: Expectations vs Reality

We were the first EVER Data School cohort to begin training remotely, which seemed equally daunting and exciting. The whole experience of starting up remotely was very interesting for me, so I wanted to share a few things I expected before the virtual training and how it actually turned out to be…

## So it begins – DS20

With DS20 finally underway, I share my thoughts and experiences in the first 2 days.

## DS20: Locked Down But Starting Up

With the country having ground to a halt and the creeping summer heat intensifying the lockdown malaise, starting the twentieth cohort of The Data School was a breath of fresh air.

## The start of the DS20 Journey.

Working from home is an entirely different experience (obviously) but the supportive atmosphere from everyone in my cohort and the rest of the company really made a difference.

## First Day of DS20…Working from home!

I would have never imagined that I’d start my first job working from home. But just over a week ago, it became much more real.

## Using Parameters as Filters

Last week I built a dashboard which included a worksheet that was operated by a parameter. I also wanted to use a filter on other worksheets included on the dashboard to allow the user more flexibility when analyzing the data. Both my parameter and the filter were...

## How to create Step Area Charts in Tableau?

A step area chart tells you the increase and decrease of sales compared to the previous months. For each month, the step line connects the previous sales with the current. Step 1: You need a calculated field for the sum of sales of the current month Step 2: You need a...

## Priority and deadline planning – The MoSCoW method applied to Tableau

A key element of consulting is priority and deadline planning. This technique helps to plan out your workload and prevent the short term scope of the project from ballooning. During the planning and building phases of Tableau I have always continued to have ideas on...

## Combining specific excel sheets from multiple files

Last week DS19 carried out an internal project with data from the National Student Survey. This data was of survey responses collected from 2005-2019. We were taking the data from files on the NSS site, where each year had at least one file for responses. Each excel...

## How to document in Tableau: Three top tips

In this post I’ll describe three documentation tips I wish I would have known earlier when using Tableau. They are; Leaving comments in calculated fieldsLeaving comments on dimensions or measuresAdding a caption pane at the bottom of the page During the Data School...

## Formatting a Drill-Down Chart

Following on from my previous blog on how to create a drill-down chart using set actions, this blog will show some ways to format the chart to make it more attractive and intuitive. When you have created a set it functions as a Boolean field which returns ‘In’ or...

## Creating Drill-Down Charts using Set Actions

This is possibly my favorite thing to do create in Tableau. I really like these charts as they give a clear overview at first glance and then allow you to dig deeper into a category to get more info. I created a drill down bar chart for this week’s makeover Monday...

## Alteryx Tool – Make Columns

We did predictive tools in training today with Gwilym and Bene. Instead of pivoting and joining the table we attached a Make Columns tool after the K Nearest Neighbours analysis to tidy up the data. The tool takes rows of data and arranges them into multiple columns....

## Using a Parameter in Conjunction with a Filter

DS19's penultimate project saw us working with data from the National Student Survey. My team were tasked with creating a dashboard which allowed the user to compare the results of the NSS between universities. The Aim I wanted to create an interactive chart which...

## How to create a Tree Plot in Tableau

A few weeks ago I had to do Workout Wednesday Week 6 from 2019 as a Friday project. When I checked it out, I was excited, it looks quite pretty but I had never heard of a “tree plot” before. I had to figure it out in time for the evening presentation. In this blog I...

## Makeover Monday Week 19 2020

Today we were given one hour to complete a Makeover Monday during training. This involves critiquing a visualization and re-building it with the same data. This week, I decided to document my thought process and highlight the steps I went through the project. ...

## Joining two “non perfectly matching” data sets

Last week, DS19 worked on a client project regarding National Student Service and university rankings. Part of what I had to do I had done it a few weeks ago for another client project. This time however, the data is public and therefore I can share my experience more...

## How to Dynamically Resize Fonts in Tableau

In this tutorial I will go over a quick calculation I made last week that dynamically sizes words based on rankings. I wanted to do this so that the top performing states would really stand out on the dashboard. The issue is that if you change font in tableau all of...

## Creating a Radial Bar Chart In Tableau

In this tutorial I will be going over how to make a radial bar chart. This chart type is very visually appealing and whilst it may not be the best way of clearly displaying the data, it will get people looking at the chart. Introduction I found out about this...

## Being a project manager for a week

Looking back at my week as project manager.

## National Student Survey and University Rankings: Internal Project

DS19s project last week was to collect both NSS and University rankings data then display this data in a way that’s easily digested by the viewer. Using the data, we created two dashboards for each NSS and Uni rankings. One was an overview dashboard and the second an...

## Exploring the ‘show only relevant values’ option

The problem: We were working on National Student Survey data last week, most of us had filters for ‘University Group’, ‘University Name’, and ‘Subject’. The Subject filter has a very long list, the users could get confused if they were to click on one of those courses...

## Looking back on Dashboard Week

Looking back on dashboard week, there’s definitely some things I’d go back and do differently, but I’m glad this is the case, because it means I’m making mistakes and learning. I’ve tried to whittle it down to the top three things I’ve learnt from dashboard week,...

## Dashboard Week: Day 5

I didn’t publish a blog for the final day of dashboard week, which I think is because as soon as I finished my presentation on the last day, I felt like the week was complete and I mentally checked out. However, in the future its likely I’ll look back on these blogs,...

## Top Tips for Virtual Training

I started training with The Data School in February 2020 as part of DS19. After 6 weeks of training we unfortunately had to start working from home due to Covid-19. We have now just finished our 14th week of training (8th week of being at home) and so we have been...

## Alteryx Server Beginner – How to publish an Alteryx analytical app with macro to the Gallery?

Thanks Ben and Jonathan for explaining this to me a few weeks ago. Hope this is helpful to those who are also new to the server. You can skip the first two steps if you are just publishing a workflow with macro. Step 1:  From the Interface Designer, go to Properties,...

## How to Dynamically Show How Many Variables are Being Filtered

This trick utilises tableau’s order of operations and where different calculations and filters interact and offers a way to dynamically show how many variables are in the view. The trick in action The scenario Lets say you want to look at a select few sub-categories...

## Attaching the “st” to 1st in Tableau

Ordinal suffixes like the ‘st’ bit of 1st aren’t automatically attached in tableau. This can be quite annoying for formatting and can sometimes make dashboards a bit ugly. Luckily with the help of some logic in a calculation we can automatically attach the correct...

## You Only Live Dashboard Week Once – a little behavioural science behind my week

Dashboard Week was once the most scary week on the calendar since my first day at the Data School, but we do need to get the negative feelings under control if we want to have a more enjoyable experience. Interesting data, open-ended design requirements, and a team of...

## The Ramblings of a Madman – Day 5

9:06 the data is up, Andy’s gone full ‘Murica on us and we’re looking at the FREEDOM of information act. Hopefully it will be interesting, from the blog it looks like there’s a lot of data prep involved. 10:02 Another slow start today, but no matter, I’ve had a pretty...

## Dashboard Week Day 5: Freedom of Information Act Requests

The Freedom of Information Act was established in America in 1975. For their last day of Dashboard Week, DS19 will see what they can find about every single request made.

## Time management for beginners

Expert procrastinator? Tired of wasting time?  Last minute- Leonidas?  I (ahem) may have been some of these things am sometimes (ahem) these things. Because I don't have the time for this (excuse the pun), I really want to improve my time management...

## Dashboard Week Day 4

I’m nearing the end of Dashboard Week at the Data School. For those who don’t know what this is; it's an intense week with daily project which needs to be ready to present by 3.30pm. During this week time NEEDS to be managed properly.  After a couple days producing...

## Dashboard Week: Day 4

For today’s challenge we were required to create a dashboard that visualized the findings of a research paper. The paper looked at the huge decline of insect abundance over the past 20 years. It was a relief that there were no surprises with regard to the challenge or...

## Correlation Matrix in Tableau – How do you hide the symmetric half?

Brian in DS12 wrote a great blog post on how to make a correlation matrix in Tableau. It is a very useful chart type, and it is really cool that the cells in the matrix can be used as filters for the scatter plot of the two comparing categories....

## The ramblings of a madman – day 4

9:18 the data is up and today we’re looking at a scientific study that looks into the decline of bug populations based on how many/few hit cars number plates. Andy has said that to get our heads around the data (there is not very much of it) we should first read the...

## Dashboard Week – Project Four

Today was a better day for me - yay! I was stuck in a bit of a self-hate cycle yesterday. I have always had a habit of comparing myself to others in various aspects of my life, and unfortunately this has followed me into the world of work. It doesn’t help that I am...

## Parameter Actions Highlighter Hack

Fix the annoying highlighting when you use parameter actions and set actions.

## The Bug Genocide: Dashboard Week Day 4

Dashboard week day 4 looks at visualizing insects decline and the possible causes and impacts of this.

## Dashboard Week Day 4: Car ‘splatometer’

Bug get splattered on windshields all the time. Research in Denmark have seen that it’s led to a decline in their population. DS19 will find out why.

## An Alteryx Tip for Big Data: The Sample Tool vs. Input Tool Sampling

Working with a really big dataset? Swearing your way through run times that languish into the minutes? This was me on Tuesday, until I found out that the Input Tool has a sampling feature. But how does this differ from the Sample Tool itself? 1. Sample from the start...