Tableau Tip: Customizing a bar chart to make it a hug

by Rachel Costa

Bar charts don’t need to be boring.They can be customised to give a twist in your visualisation, creating a different visual effect

customised bar chart

Yesterday we played around body measures from the Data School people. It was part of a crazy idea of Iron Viz that Andy had (he explained it here).

Once one of the measures we had was wingspan I decided to create a chart showing the size of our hugs (Actually I was trying to normalise the fact that I have freaky big arms creating a cute visualisation about it). 🙂

customised bar chart

How to customize a bar chart

To create hugs I decided to use two bar charts, each one a dual axis with a second chart showing shapes. I used the shapes as the hands and, for this I needed to add this shape to ‘My Tableau Repository’.

In a more detailed explanation, here is what I did:

  1.  Add “Name” to Rows, “Wingspan” to columns and sorted “Name” by ascending “Wingspan”.
  2. CTRL click “Wingspan” to duplicate it. Tableau will generate a second bar chart identical to the first one. Change the chart type of the second one to “Shape”.
  3. Right click on the second SUM(Wingspan) and create ‘Dual Axis’. Then right click on the X axis and “Synchronize Axis”

customised bar chart

After those steps you will have your first arm (without hand yet but we will do it in a minute).

To create the second arm (After all, it is a hug and I am Brazilian so we need to hug well, using BOTH arms at the same time), you need to repeat all the process detailed above.

It will give you two identical bar charts. All you need to do now is to reverse the first chart. To do this, right click on the X axis of the first chart >> Edit Axis. A new window will pop up, showing the axis configuration. In “Scale” click on “Reversed”.

Now both bars will be aligned by the centre of the visualisation. The arms are done! All we need to do is to add the hands.

TIP: If you would like to clean your visualisation, you can right click on the axis and unclick “Show header”.

customised bar chart

Getting the hands right

To make your hug more ‘real’ you need two different icons: one to be the right hand and another to be the left hand.

Usually when I need an icon I go to The Noun Project. They offer beautiful icons free of charge (all you need to do is to mention the author).

I got the hand I’m using from Pablo Rozenberg. It is only one icon that I flipped horizontally using Pixrl (it is a free tool to edit images online).

This way I ended up with a right and a left hand which I uploaded to the “Shapes” folder in “My Tableau Repository”.

Hands added to the repository, all I needed to do was to add them in the Shape chart clicking on “Shape” >> More Shapes >> Select Shapes, taking care to get the hands in the right position (thumb up).

Finally, it is possible to change the size of the hands clicking on “Size”.

Happy hugs for everyone!

customised bar chart