Tableau Prep Builder & Tableau 2019.2

When I was browsing Tableau dashboards on their blog, this one got me. I instantly fell in love with it’s clean and simple design yet intriguing insight. Fresh colours, easy-to-read charts and lots of extra, hidden information in tooltips. But it was the cubes and filters what made me try something at least a bit similar.

Click on the picture to get to the dashboard on my Tableau Public profile.

Data Preparation Part: Tableau Prep Builder

I love books, and this dataset on Kaggle was something I had to use in some way. My usual data wrangling tool is Alteryx, but this time, I wanted to give a chance to Tableau Prep Builder. I saw it for the very first time a few months ago. Not only I liked the visual side of this tool; the simplicity when it comes to data cleansing is excellent. Yes, comparing to Alteryx, it’s a quite lightweight piece of software, but for me as a Mac user who just needed some splitting, trimming, grouping, filtering, joining, aggregating and pivoting, this was awesome. Although to be completely honest, there are some steps I wish there were an extra tool or a checkbox for.

Simple and clean design of Tableau Prep workflow is great.

Here are a few things I learnt:

Uncheck, filter, drop. When you load data in, leave out everything you know you won’t need. Get to know your dataset well and filter anything useless – I decided not to use books with no genres or those few items in less numerous languages. And again, check the columns and drop whatever you won’t need.

Do as much work as possible before you go to the visualisation tool. Even though Tableau is amazing and you can do lots of stuff there as well, it’s not an ETL tool.

If there’s something that would take just a minute or two in Excel and lots of effort in Tableau Prep, do it in Excel. Five rows in one of my datasets with few thousands of rows had shifted cells (author split into two columns, and everything else was displaced). First, I determined the rows (by the book ID), and then I manually merged the author cells back together and placed the cells back to their place. Sometimes it’s not worth your time or energy to try to re-invent the wheel.

Also, if you experience Tableau Prep to be slow, try this workaround.

Visualisation Part: Tableau

Tableau 2019.2 introduced a few super cool features. My favourite ones are swapping worksheets in a dashboard, show/hide dashboard containers, new maps, and makepoint()/makeline() (I can’t wait to find the right dataset for those!). ❤️

As the essential part of my dashboard are the squares, I had to come up with an idea of how to do it in the least painful way possible. The (bar) chart my inspiration came from was built on drilling dates. I didn’t have dimensions for this kind of chart. I couldn’t filter this on the genre either, as each book has multiple genres assigned.

I went for simple squares. To create the grid, I checked what looks good (3 x 10 squares) and I set the top number of books (parameter + set) and size of both the squares and the container accordingly. Nothing crazy.

I played a lot with sets, parameters, filters, actions and tooltips.

How to create showing/hiding container?

Create a floatingcontainer (one of those horizontal/vertical dashboard objects), put anything inside (shift + drop), select Add Show/Hide Button. I used a text button.

To enjoy all the hovering and clicking, go to my Tableau Public profile.

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