It’s Dashboard week this week for us at DS22 – each day we are assigned a project in which we must prepare and visualize the data according to rules set by Andy. Check out my blog from Day 1 here to see what I got up to.
Day 2 of Dashboard week was a different challenge to what we have become accustomed to. Andy wants us to build our dashboard within Alteryx using the reporting tools? This isn’t what I signed up for... I thought visualization was Tableau's job? You can see the full details of our challenge in Andy’s blog post here.
Using Alteryx Reporting tools alone isn’t so difficult. The difficulties arise with various formatting options, the layout of the chart, the look and feel of a chart just to name a few - all of the things that come so naturally and easily within Tableau leave you wanting to break your screen in Alteryx.
Anyway, our dataset was on Hail Storms in America – I managed to grab the shape file from here which was actually pretty clean and well formatted and contained all the information I wanted/needed. The only thing I really wanted to do was remove fields containing just zeros and rename some of the fields according to the descriptions found here.
Alteryx has a number of reporting tools and a couple of methods for getting the dashboard look and feel that Tableau has – although not quite as effective shall we say. There’s the layout tool which combines charts from other reporting tools to lay them in a format that you specify within the configuration. I’ve never used this tool before and I didn’t like it - trying to lay the charts out as I wanted was too frustrating but its certainly worth learning about if you need to report within Alteryx, otherwise just use Tableau.
The reporting tool that I used to create my dashboard was the Insight reporting tool. This tool is essentially a dashboard in itself that allows you to build charts and text boxes within it and also add functionality such as filtering and drill downs (although I couldn't get drill downs to work within the time). More information on the insight reporting tool can be found here or on the Alteryx website.
I found that the dataset as a whole was too large for the reporting tools and upon creating a chart, my Alteryx would crash and close – a gentle reminder to save my work more often… So I decided to filter the data down to look at all hail storms in Texas for the years 1955 – 2019.
Within the Insight tool, you can simply drag either the chart or text box from the left hand side on to your canvas and select edit to populate. Within the Chart tool, you get this view:
To begin your chart, Add a layer and configure it with the chart type and fields you want to use on the axes. Alteryx doesn’t always play ball with what you want so this may take a bit of fiddling with (as will everything else). You can create more than one layer within a chart (like a dual/combines axis chart in tableau). The rest of the options are essentially formatting options that I played with for way too long before I was mildly happy with how the charts looked.
Without going into too much more detail on this, here’s the view of my dashboard. The insight tool adopts a floating style dashboard where you can drag and drop your charts and text in any way you want, again this is similar to the floating style in Tableau. However I couldn’t find any functionality to ensure that my charts aligned either horizontally or vertically, which again, was frustrating.
Overall, I do think this challenge was useful despite the number of times I must have mentioned my frustration. As I built more and more charts I begun learning exactly where to go to format different options and therefore building charts much quicker and more easily. There were still charts that I just couldn’t put together as I wanted to, either because the sort option didn’t work properly or just because I don’t know the tool well enough but at least we managed something!
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the rest of my Dashboard Week Blog Posts.