Parameter actions and Highlight calculations

by Hannah Murphy

In my application viz for DS24, I used actions throughout my dashboard to enable the viz to update dynamically. I thought this was a really nice technique to add an interactive layer to my dashboard without compromising space and design.

Parameter actions allow the user to change the parameter value through direct interaction with a viz, such as clicking or selecting a mark. This can be done with both static and dynamic parameters.

Although it may seem daunting, this can be achieved with a few simple steps:

First things first, build your chart/graph as you normally would.

You will then need to set up your parameter, in my application dashboard, I used a set list of values copied from my clipboard:

For a dynamic parameter (one that updates with the data), select a field from your data set rather than pasting from the clipboard.

Once the parameter is created, apply it to your worksheet by selecting the ‘show parameter’ option.

You will see the parameter show on the side of your screen, however not much will happen until you set up a parameter action - we will get to this later.

Next, you need to tell Tableau what you want it to do with your parameter action. In my case I wanted the selected country to be highlighted in colour.

To do this, I made a Boolean calculation which links the parameter to the data source and colours the field when the value matches.

Dragging this calculation onto ‘colour’ on the marks tab will create a True/False card. ‘True’ is when your data meets the conditions specified in your calculation (in this case, when the country matches the selected country).

Choose your highlight colour and a neutral colour for your background fields.

This card can be deleted from the dashboard.

All that’s left to do now is to set up your parameter action.

As you want the parameter to update on your final viz, setting up a parameter action will need to be done on the dashboard.

Once your worksheet is on your dashboard, go to ‘Dashboard’ and then ‘Actions’ on the toolbar and create a new action.

This is where a dashboard action makes a difference. If the action is set to the sheet alone, it will not work on your dashboard.

Your source sheet will be your dashboard; selecting the relevant sheet, parameter and the field from which the parameter draws its data. (This will need to be done even if the parameter values are copied from the clipboard.)

In pressing OK, you have set your sheet to update based on the selected country (in this case).

You can stop here and leave your parameter as is on your dashboard.

However we can make this a bit tidier.

Using a dynamic title allows the text to update as an option is selected and display the chosen country.

Finally, reduce the size of the drop down parameter object to the size of the arrow and arrange this beside your text.

Once again, you can stop here, however we can make it even cleaner.

As can be seen above, the arrow isn’t completely in line with the text and is likely to move to an undesirable position on different desktops. We can use containers to combat this.

Drag a tiled container into your dashboard in the desired position and add a text option. This is where you will put the text you previously had in the title.

Drag your arrow into this container. To do this the parameter object cannot be floating.

Your title will now look like this:

All that’s left now is to tidy things up and do some formatting!

Resize your parameter object to show only the arrow once again and use text alignment and padding to get things where you want them.

Hide the title on your worksheet as you will now have two!

You may have to split your title across two containers, depending on your desired layout.

This was my final result: a much tidier and less clumsy interaction with my dashboard!

Sat 24 Jul 2021

Fri 09 Jul 2021