Dynamic highlighting using Parameters on a Parallel Coordinates chart

by Erica Hughes

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 you through the steps to get to here:

These are the main steps:

  1. Format the chart
  2. Create the parameter
  3. Make the parameter work
  4. Create the “axes” behind the lines (dual axis)
  5. Final touches

1. Formatting the chart

Right click on the background of the chart, select Format.

  • Format Lines – Remove all grid lines and zero lines.
  • Format Borders – Remove all.

2. Creating the parameter

Select the drop-down arrow next to the ‘Search’ bar above your data pane. Select the option to ‘Create Parameter’.

  • Name your parameter.
  • Choose the data type (in this case String).
  • For the allowable values, select ‘List
  • Add Values from the ‘Food Product’ Field.

To see the parameter options in your view, go to the Parameters section in your Data Pane, right-click and make sure the ‘Show Parameter’ option is ticked. Changing the values of the parameter will not do anything at this stage.

3. Making the parameter work

Create a calculated field (similar to creating a parameter, but select the calculated field option instead). Name your calculated field. Set your dimension (Food Product field) equal to your parameter (Food Product Parameter). This is a boolean calculation. It will return True if the Food Product matches the one that is selected in the parameter and False for all the others.

Drag the calculation onto the Color shelf in the Marks Card. You can then edit the colours by clicking on the Color shelf so that the value selected in the parameter stands out (orange, in my example), and the others blend into the background a bit more (grey, in my example).

Edit the Table Calculation for each Measure field in your Measure Values shelf by right-clicking on the Measure fields and selecting ‘Edit Table Calculation. Make sure that both the Food Product Field AND the Food Product parameter are ticked.

Bring the ‘True’ value in your colour legend to the top by clicking and dragging.

4. Creating the “axes” behind the lines

Copy the Measure Values field in the Rows shelf by holding CTRL on your keyboard and dragging the field to the right and dropping it in the Rows shelf again.

On the Marks Card, go to the second Measure Values chart and drag Food Product onto the Path shelf. At this stage you can change the colour and size of the lines to make them more subtle.

Bring these charts together by:

  • Making them dual-axis (right-click on one of the fields in the Rows shelf)
  • Synchronizing the axes (right-click on either of the vertical axes)
  • Moving the marks to the back (on the right-hand axis),
  • Hiding Headers (by unticking Show Header when you right-click on the axes).

5. Final touches

  • Edit Alias of the labels on the bottom Axis (by right-clicking on each label and selecting ‘Edit Alias’)
  • Include the Parameter in the title so that it changes dynamically as you change the parameter (by double-clicking and then selecting your parameter from the ‘Insert’ drop-down menu