Tableau Public is free software that can allow anyone to connect to a spreadsheet or file and create interactive data visualizations for the web. Tableau is a Business Intelligence tool for visually analyzing the data. Users can create and distribute an interactive and shareable dashboard, which depict the trends, variations, and density of the data in the form of graphs and charts. Tableau can connect to files, relational and Big Data sources to acquire and process data. Tableau Public is a powerful data visualization tool used in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry to simplify data into a more understandable format. The software also blends in other features like real-time data analytics and cloud support capabilities that facilitate data collaboration. Tableau is more than software—from free training to dedicated account management and a vibrant community of data rockstars, we invest in your success. Want to see for yourself? Click here to Start a Free Trial.

Tableau Public Tool

There are several ways text can appear on a sheet. You can show titles and captions on any sheet. Another option is to Add tooltips to marks. A legend card appears in the worksheet when you encode marks by dropping them on the Color or Size cards. It’s also possible to Add Annotations for a mark, point, or area in the view.

These text elements can be customized for text properties like size, color, alignment, and font, as well as element properties like shading and borders.

Note: Some of these formatting options are only available in Tableau Desktop.

Some parts of the view have their own formatting and editing controls, such as an axis(Link opens in a new window), and the text(Link opens in a new window) like labels and headers.

Show titles and other text elements

Titles and captions

If a title or caption isn't showing, open the Worksheet menu and select Show Title or Show Caption.

For dashboards and stories, there are equivalent options in their respective menus (such as Dashboard> Show Title). There is also a check box to toggle the dashboard or story title on or off, available in the left-hand pane.

Legends and other elements

By default, a legend card is created whenever a field is encoded by color, size, or shape. If a legend is removed or hidden, however, it can be brought back.

Open the Analysis menu > Legends and select the desired option. Only legends that are relevant to the view can be selected. That is, if nothing is on the Size shelf, the size legend cannot be turned on.

On Worksheets

These items can also be toggled by right-clicking anywhere in the grey area of the sheet, such as under the Marks card.

For more information about adding elements such as legends, filters, and parameter controls to a worksheet, see Additional Shelves, Legends, Cards, and Controls.

Edit titles and captions

  1. On a worksheet, hover on the title, click the drop-down arrow on the right-hand side and select Edit Title or Edit Caption from the context menu. Alternatively:
    1. Right-click (control-click on Mac) the item you want to change and select Edit.
    2. In web editing, double click the worksheet title. Note that captions and legend titles cannot be edited in web editing
  2. In the Edit Title dialog box, modify the text and format the font, size, style, color, and alignment. If desired, use the Insert menu to add dynamic text such as sheet properties and field values. To reset a title or caption back to the default, click Reset.
Tableau Public Tool

Format titles and captions

For information on showing or hiding a title, see Titles.

  1. On a worksheet, right-click (control-click on Mac) the title, caption, or legend and select Format <item>—for example, Format Title.
  2. In the Format pane, use the drop-down lists to change the default shading or border.

Edit dashboard titles

For information on showing or hiding a title, see Titles.

  1. On a dashboard, double-click the title.
  2. In the Edit Title dialog box that appears, format the title as you like. You can enter a new title for the dashboard or a description, as well as change the font type, size, emphasis, color, and alignment. You can also type in a website URL and Tableau will automatically create a hyperlink.

    Note: If you edit the hyperlink, make sure to delete the entire hyperlink and then reenter the new one. If you do not do this, the text of the hyperlink will update, but the URL path will not.

  3. When finished, click OK. The dashboard title updates with the changes.

Format tooltips

Tooltips are details that appear when you rest the pointer over one or more marks in the view. Tooltips also offer convenient tools to quickly filter or remove a selection, select marks that have the same value or view underlying data.

  • For more information on tooltips, see Tooltips.
  • To show a visualization in a tooltip, see Create Views in Tooltips (Viz in Tooltip).
  • To see related concepts demonstrated in Tableau, watch Basic Tooltips(Link opens in a new window), a 7-minute free training video. Use your opens in a new window) account to sign in.

You can edit the tooltip to include both static and dynamic text. You can also modify which fields are included in the automatic tooltip.

  1. On the Marks card select Tooltip. Tooltips are specified for each sheet and can be formatted using the formatting tools along the top of the Edit Tooltip dialog box.
  2. Use the Insert menu at the top of the dialog box to add dynamic text such as field values, sheet properties, and more.
  3. Use the formatting tools along the top of the Edit Tooltip dialog box.

There are several optional customizations as well.

Dynamic text values

Use the Insert drop-down list at the top of the dialog box to add dynamic text such as field values, sheet properties, and more.

The All Fields option on the Insert menu adds all field names and values that are used in the view. Inserting the All Fields parameter updates the tooltip as you change the view. You can also use the All Fields option to exclude fields.

Command buttons

Select the Include command buttons option to show filtering and view data options in the tooltip.

For example, including command buttons will add Keep Only, Exclude, and View Data buttons to the tooltip. These command buttons are available both in Tableau Desktop and when the view is published to the web or viewed on a mobile device. Unchecking Include command buttons will also hide the aggregation summary if multiple marks are selected.

Selection by category

Select the Allow selection by category check box to select marks in a view that have the same value by clicking on a discrete field in a tooltip. For more information see Tooltips.

Thanks for your feedback!Tableau public dataset

Choropleth Map with Tableau Public

We first introduced you to the free Tableau Public desktop application (for Mac or Windows) when building scattercharts and filtered line charts in Chapter 6. Now let’s use the same tool to create an interactive choropleth map, and compare the process with the Datawrapper tool we learned in the prior section. We’re showing you how to create the same type of map with both tools, in order to show you the difference. On one hand, Datawrapper gives you more control over interpolating data and shaping the appearance of color intervals in your choropleth map. On the other hand, some people prefer Tableau Public because they’re already familiar with its interface.

Tableau Public can create many different types of map for geographical place names or ISO codes it already recognizes, such as nations, states, counties, and airports. But Tableau Public cannot geocode street addresses by itself, so you’ll need to obtain their latitude and longitude with another tool, such as those described in the geocode section of Chapter 2. Furthermore, if you want to upload customized map boundaries, learn how to Create Tableau Maps from Spatial Fileson the support page.

In this section, we will create a choropleth map of healthcare spending per country as a percentage of their gross domestic product (GDP), as shown in Figure 7.52. Remember that choropleth maps work best when we normalize the data to show relative, rather than absolute, numbers. Creating a map of total health spending per country would not be very meaningful, as larger nations tend to have larger economies, so we’ll base our map on the percentage of their economy that is spent on healthcare.

Before we start, you should obtain and install the free Tableau Public desktop application if you don’t have it yet. It is available for Mac or Windows. You will need to enter an email address to download the application.

Figure 7.52: Choropleth map of healthcare spending with Tableau Public. Explore the interactive version. Data from the World Bank.

Let’s look at the steps involved to create a choropleth from Figure 7.52 in detail.

  1. Open the Healthcare Spending by Nation as Percent of GDP data in Google Sheets, which we downloaded from the World Bank. Examine the data and the notes.

Good maps often require cleaning up messy data as described in Chapter 4. In our spreadsheet we removed rows for nations that did not report any data. Tableau Public recognizes many different types of geographic names (such as cities and nations), so we will rely on the tool to deal with any spelling issues and properly place all of them on the map.

  1. In the Google Sheet, go to File > Download and select Comma-Separated Values (CSV) format to save the data to your local computer.

  2. Launch Tableau Public. When you first open it, you will see the Connect menu on the left-hand side that displays file formats you can upload. Choose the Text file format and upload the healthcare spending CSV data file you’ve just downloaded in the previous step.

Note: Tableau lets you access data directly from Google Sheets that live in your Drive using Connect > To a Server option. So instead of downloading a CSV file in step 2, you could have made a copy of the sheet, and connected to it directly.

  1. In the Data Source screen, inspect the dataset, which contains three columns: Country Name, Country Code, and Health Spending As % of GDP. Notice that a small globe appears at the top of the Country Name and Country Code columns, which shows that Tableau Public successfully recognized these as geographic data, rather than string or text data. Sometimes Tableau does not recognize location data automatically, so you need to manually change the data type. To do so, click the data type icon (e.g. globe or a green # for numeric values), and then choose Geographic Role > Country/Region as shown in Figure 7.53.

Figure 7.53: Make sure Tableau Public knows that the Country Name column contains geographic data.

  1. In the bottom-left corner, click the orange Sheet 1 button to create a worksheet with your first visualization, as shown in Figure 7.54.

Figure 7.54: Click the orange button to go sheet 1 where you can create your map.

  1. In Sheet 1, create your choropleth map using a two-step process, as shown in Figure 7.55. First, drag-and-drop the Country Name field into the middle of the worksheet (alternatively to the Detail box of the Marks card) to create the map. The default view is the symbol map, which we need to replace with a polygon map. To add colored polygons, drag-and-drop the Health Spending As % of GDP field into the Color box of the Marks card to transform it into a choropleth map.

Figure 7.55: Drag and drop Country Name to the center of the sheet, then Health Spending As % of GDP to the Color box in the Marks card.

  1. Tableau Public may hide the map legend behind the Show Me menu in the upper-right corner, so click the menu to shrink it and display your legend.

  2. You can change the color palette by clicking the Color box of the Marks card, andthen Edit colors. Change the palette to Green, and change it from continuous to steps,as shown in Figure 7.56.

Tableau Public Tool

Figure 7.56: Change the color scheme to Green with 5 steps.

  1. When you hover over countries, you will notice a tooltip that tells you the name of the country and gives you the percent value. It is generally well-formatted as our initial data table had proper column headers. But we can make the toolitp even better. Click the Tooltip box of the Marks card, change the first instance of Country Name to just Country (do not change the grayed-out text inside < and > as these are variable names), and add a % sign at the end of the second row, as shown in Figure 7.57.

Figure 7.57: Change tooltip text to make it more user-friendly.

  1. Let’s make our map title more meaningful. Double-click the default Sheet 1 name just above the mapto bring up the Edit Title window, and change the name of your chart to2017 Healthcare Spending by Country as % of GDP.

  2. At this point the data is loaded and should be displayed correctly, so we are going to create the final layout that include map’s title and credits, the legend, and is appropriate for sharing. At the bottom-left of the program, create a New Dashboard, as shown in Figure 7.58. Dashboards in Tableau are layouts that can contain visualizations from multiple sheets, as well as text boxes, images, and other elements, creating rich exploratory interfaces. In this tutorial, we will stick to just a single sheet that contains our choropleth map.

Figure 7.58: Before you publish the map, create a new dashboard to finalize your layout.

Tableau Public Tooltip

  1. In your Dashboard 1 tab, change the size of the dashboard to Automatic so that the map is responsive and occupies 100% of the width on all devices. Drag and drop Sheet 1 to the Drop sheets here area, as shown in Figure 7.59. This will copy the map, the title, and the legend from Sheet 1.

Figure 7.59: To create a responsive dashboard, change the Size to Automatic.

  1. Right-click the upper part of the map legend, and select Floating, as shown in Figure 7.60. Now you are able to place your legend directly on top of the map to save space. Drag and drop it to one of the map’s corners.

Figure 7.60: To place the legend on top of the map, make sure it is floating.

  1. Finally, let’s add a text block with data source underneath the map. From the Objects menu in the left-hand side, drag and drop Text to the lower half of the map. In the Edit Text window that appears, type Data by the World Bank, 2017, and click OK. Initially the text area will occupy half the height of the screen, so resize it like you would resize any window on your computer.

And we’re done! Make sure you position your map’s center and zoom level as you want it to be visible by others. In this case, the best would be to have a world view as we are showing data for most countries, although you may want to zoom in to a specific continent. Once you are ready to publish and share the map, go to File > Save to Tableau Public. In the pop-up window, log in to your account if requested. Give it a title, such as Healthcare Spending, and click Save. See how to embed the map as an iframe in Chapter 9.

Tableau Public Tool Kit

Warning: Tableau may not be the best tool to create choropleth maps where you want to have full control of color breaks. By default, Tableau uses a linear color scheme that, as we’ve learned earlier in the chapter, is prone to highlighting outliers, and there is no straightforward way to change the intervals to non-linear methods such as quantiles. If you are not happy with the way the linear scale represents your data, you can filter your data to remove outliers from the map, or see Andy Kriebel’s VizWiz tutorial to use table calculations to group items into quantiles, or create your choropleth map in Datawrapper, which gives you more control over color intervals and interpolation.

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In all of the prior tutorials, you created interactive maps using static data, meaning it came from a spreadsheet. In the next tutorial, you’ll learn how to build a map using continuously-updated data from a Socrata open data repository, which will always display the most current information.

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