Tableau Tips Directory | Radial Bar Charts

Capture2At the tail end of 2017, Radial Bar Charts really began catching my attention and in recent weeks, I’ve noticed more and more great uses of this chart type. A fun chart to build, my first Radial Bar Chart was a #MakeoverMonday project and I’ve recently added another fun viz on March Madness. In this edition of the Tableau Tips Directory, we’ll focus on Radial Bar Charts, providing you with links to some fantastic tutorials, blog posts and Tableau Public vizzes, all of which helped me learn how to build this very pretty, addictive chart type.


Blog Posts

Visualizations to Reverse-Engineer

My hope is that these resources will be as valuable to you as they were in helping me learn Radial Bar Charts!! Again, there are likely other great tips out there that I have yet to stumble across. If that’s the case, feel free to add a comment here, including the author of the tip and a link to the tip or Tweet me at @JtothaVizzo and I’ll be sure to add it.

Tableau Tips Directory | Sankey Charts


In early February, in preparation of the 2018 Winter Olympics, #SportsVizSunday, co-run by James Smith, Simon Beaumont and Spencer Baucke, presented the challenge of visualizing the history of the Winter Olympics through the use of one of two data sets; “Medals by Athlete” or “Medals by Country.” After reviewing the data, my instinct was to attempt a chart type I hadn’t yet tried, but had admired for quite some time…the Sankey Chart. So, with the help of a few tutorials and some reverse-engineering, that’s exactly what I did and it’s the reason Sankey Charts are the focus of this edition of the Tableau Tips Directory.


Blog Post

Visualizations to Reverse-Engineer

Hopefully these resources will be as valuable to you as they were in helping me complete my first and second Sankey Charts!! There are likely other great Sankey Chart tips out there that I haven’t come across yet and if that’s the case, feel free to add a comment here, including the author of the tip and a link to the tip or Tweet me at @JtothaVizzo.


Tableau Tips Directory | Line Charts

The Tableau/Data Viz community is simply amazing!! The quantity and quality of tips, tutorials, how to’s, etc. available at the click of a button is not only incredible for somebody working to improve their skills, but also can be a tad overwhelming when it comes to referencing them when the opportunity arises to put one into practice. I often find myself scrolling through Twitter or searching a blog, thinking, “I swear this is where I saw that!!” In the end, I usually end up finding what I was looking for, but a more organized approach to searching for these tips would be invaluable not only for myself, but also for others like me, who are honing their skills and frequently looking to practice new tips they’ve seen.

So, the purpose of this series of blog posts is to compile a list of Tableau tips I’ve come across and to give them a home, which will allow for quick reference in the future. The initial plan is to break the series up by chart type, beginning with the most basic types. A few important notes to consider;

  • Charlie Hutcheson has a fantastic blog, LearningTableauBlog, where, in many of his posts, he includes links to valuable videos and blog posts;
    • By no means is this series meant to be a copycat on any of Charlie’s fine work.
      • Instead, the intent is to help myself stay more organized by collecting my favorite tips and storing them in one, easy to reach, place.
      • However, it would be incredibly selfish to not share this with the rest of the community as well, particularly, those in similar shoes as my own.
  • Lastly, in case you missed them, I would also like to point you to two other blog posts recently shared by Rebecca Roland and Mark Edwards. Rebecca’s Tableau Assistant Directory provides a list of tools and websites, while Mark’s DataViz Podcast Directory provides a list of various DataViz podcasts, all in one place. Both are fabulous resources, so be sure to check them out!!

This post on Line Charts will include some of the top Tableau tips I’ve seen from Andy Kriebel, Rody Zakovich and Ryan Sleeper. However, there are likely many other wonderful tips out there for Line Charts that I haven’t happened to come across yet. If that’s the case and you would like one added, feel free to add a comment here including the author of the tip and a link to the tip or Tweet me at @JtothaVizzo.

Andy Kriebel

Rody Zakovich

Ryan Sleeper

Name That Baby!!


In 2014, when my wife and I went to the hospital to have our first child, we were all packed up and as prepared to go as we could possibly be. Living just a few blocks from the hospital, the option was available for me to swing home, with ease, if needed. But, nonetheless, the bags that would accompany us sat, packed in our spare bedroom, for the better part of two weeks. However, as prepared as we were with packing, we were equally unprepared in another major part of this whole baby having process…what the hell would we name the baby??? As there are few surprises in life, we chose not to find out the sex, though everyone assured us we were having a boy. So, needing both a girl and boy name, over several months we periodically looked up lists of baby names and talked about which ones we liked or didn’t like, but never seemed to gain much ground. Finally, the day was here and as we rushed out the door, our list was still incomplete, consisting of a single maybe for a girl name and exactly zero boy names. Well, as it turns out, we wound up having a beautiful baby girl and our maybe name, Ruby, seemed to fit her perfectly. Whew, crisis averted!!

Now, as 2017 comes to an end and we usher in 2018, we are expecting our second child in just over three weeks. And here we are sitting in the same situation. Once again, not wanting to find out the sex, this time we’ve been able to muster up one boy name, but zero girl names!! So, how does any of this pertain to Tableau and/or Data Visualization? Funny you should ask…

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Why the Viz?

After going through the same song and dance we went through in 2014, I decided to leverage my passion for Tableau and Data Viz as a new way to approach searching for baby names. Having lost track of how many times I’ve Google searched phrases including “baby names,” it seemed only right to try and make the process more simple and fun. Eventually, I landed on the Social Security Administration website, where I was able to find data on the top baby names, by decade. After narrowing down my list to go back only to the 1920s, as opposed to the 1880s, I began gathering the data.

How Can it Help?

The process of picking out baby names may be easy for some, but very difficult for others. For us, it has been the latter for a few reasons that I won’t go into. Either way, in our situation, my wife and I both tend to stay away from the ultra popular names of today, as we prefer classic names that are beginning to come back in a small way, especially for girls. This is how we landed on Ruby, which also happened to have some meaning to us. So, with these thoughts in mind, I wanted to trend the popularity of baby names over time and use that to determine if the criteria are met for a specific name.

How Does it Work?

Dating back to the 1920s, a lot of names have landed in the Top 200 most popular baby names for a given decade. So, with so many names to weed through, I needed a way to filter down the options of what was viewable at a particular time. Thus, the viz is basically useless without the first of three dashboard actions;

  1. Name Begins with Filter: Including an A to Z list on the lefthand side of the viz allows the user to filter to names that begin with a desired letter. Once a letter has been selected, the second and third dashboard actions come into play.
  2. Name Rank Trend Highlights: Hovering on a girl name will highlight the name rank trend below, while hovering on a boy name will do the same for the boy name rank trends.

Once your name is highlighted in the line chart, you will see its initial Top 200 Rank, as well as all subsequent ranks, allowing you to easily see if the name has increased or decreased in popularity. Here’s a quick example; Although the spelling is different, the name Brittany entered the Top 200 in the 1980s, ranking #21 among girl names. By the 1990s it had climbed to #7. And then in the late 1990s, Britney Spears  became a thing and by the 2000s the popularity of the name Brittany had plummeted to #189. Coincidence? You be the judge.

My hopes are that this viz can be helpful in several different ways, regardless if you like popular names, classic names or anything in between. Thank you for reading, now GO NAME THAT BABY!!


Viz What You Love: Part II

cmavizJust over three weeks ago, I posted a viz about Notre Dame football, supporting it with a blog post called ‘Viz What You Love,’ professing and detailing my love for the Fighting Irish football program. A few days after that post, I shared a viz outlining the history of the CMA (Country Music Association) Awards Album of the Year winners. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere, literally, in northwestern Minnesota, sports and music were two of the things that became very important to me early on in life. While, my desire to be active and competitive fire were fueled through sports, music was always there when it was time to relax, study or have fun. I love several genres of music, but where I grew up, country music was big and it has always had a place in my heart. My first ever CD was John Michael Montgomery…no seriously!! And my first ever concert was Tim McGraw, way back when his only hit was “Don’t Take the Girl.” The point is that I love country music and that one really fun way to continue improving your Tableau skills is to produce data visualizations about things you love. I like to call this “Viz What You Love.” Part II is about my CMA Awards 51 Albums of the Year viz.

When I first saw Sean Miller‘s ‘The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All-Time’ viz, I was blown away not only by how cool it was, but also by how much information was right there at my fingertips. Now, while I’m not a huge metal-head, I’ve listened to enough to know many of the artists and albums on the list, among them Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osborne. The very first thing that caught my attention on Sean’s viz was the range of energy in Black Sabbath/Ozzy albums vs. those of Slayer, which is all energy, all the time. I hadn’t heard much Slayer before, so pulled them up on Spotify. You could say their music is…aggressive!! Anyway, I thought Sean’s viz was awesome and I wanted to try something similar from some music more familiar to me. The first step would be to find a data set…well wouldn’t you know Sean also blogged about his viz and included a sweet little trick you can do in Spotify to capture several different attributes. Thanks for sharing Sean!! Here’s the link he included in his blog that helps you sort your music, so you can then throw it into a spreadsheet and start visualizing. This process is much more seamless than I was expecting, so that was a pleasant surprise!!

As for song attributes, I chose beats per minute, energy, acoustic and popularity. Being country music was my choice, I thought valence may also be interesting, but it didn’t tell the story I was hoping for. I included all songs from each album, because I wanted to see any clustering, especially on the low and high ends of each attribute category. For instance, a majority of two-time Album of the Year award winner, Charlie Rich’s music is low energy and highly acoustic, while recent two-time winner, Chris Stapleton offers a wide variety on his albums. The extreme unpopularity of country music from the 60s through the 80s is clear, save a few notable exceptions such as Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson. There’s a gradual increase in popularity, the newer the music is and neither of these facts are a huge surprise when you think about the demographics of Spotify listeners. I’m really going out on a limb here, but my hunch is that more millennials are using Spotify than senior citizens. I mean, my dad certainly isn’t on Spotify…can you get Spotify on a track phone??? Wait, is it track phone or TracFone? Ah, who the hell knows, the point is not many millennials are listening to Ronnie Milsap, Alabama or George Strait, but they damn well should be!! Ok, here’s what I like about the viz;

  • Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a fan of including all songs on the dot plot, as the clustering of songs within an album is interesting to see.
  • I would have never chosen these colors on my own, but a quick Google search led me to colors associated with each genre of music. So, I chose four related to country music and feel that they actually look pretty nice together, thanks in large part to the dark blue background.
  • I think the highlight actions work well, as you can hover on a song under one column and easily see where that song falls in the other categories as well.

I hope you enjoyed reading, now go out and Viz What You Love!! Thank you again for the inspiration Sean, this was a really fun project!!

Feeling Thankful

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With the way this past Wednesday started, I couldn’t have imagined it would turn into such a special day for me. Only after several snooze buttons did I finally drag myself out of bed to begin the day…my wife and daughter both still sound asleep after a late night run to the ER, which saw us return home at 1:30am, after finding out our daughter had double ear infections and pneumonia. Poor little girl. So, as my wife stayed home with her for the day, off to work I went. It was just a typical Wednesday until sometime after lunch when I decided to find out what was happening on Twitter and…HOLY SHIT!! To my absolute delight, I had been selected as a Tableau Public Featured Author!! The feeling was amazing…I was thrilled!!

So, now nearly a week has passed and I’ve had some time to process this first big Tableau/Data Viz achievement. Since deciding, nearly eight months ago that it was time to join the Tableau community and begin leveraging Tableau Public to build an online portfolio, I’ve been inspired by countless people, vizzes, tweets, blog posts, videos, etc. At this point, I feel it’s necessary to share some of these inspirations with those who may have begun their journey a little later than me. So, the following post is a recap of my last seven and a half months, pointing out key moments along the way. It is quite aggressive with the links, but that is intentional, so that every important piece of inspiration is just a click away.

Springtime – Getting Started

On April 26th, 2017 the Twitter account @JtothaVizzo was created. This would serve as the main way in which I would stay connected to the community. My first goal after creating the account was to find and follow the most influential people in the community, so I could begin learning from the best. Tableau Zen Masters and Tableau Ambassadors were top priority. A day later, this tweet by Andy Cotgreave led me to the mentioned blog post by Mark Edwards, where he discussed the importance of building a Tableau Public portfolio in order to develop your skills and become involved in the community. After reading Mark’s post I came across one from Eva MurraySo you want a job as a Tableau Developer? Umm, yes please!! Eva is wonderful and her post is loaded with great advice for anyone interested in landing that first job…or next job for that matter, using Tableau.

My next stop would be #MakeoverMonday led by Eva and Andy Kriebel and on May 1st, I submitted my first #MakeoverMonday viz. Today, I consider #MakeoverMonday the single biggest factor contributing to my growth. And if you’ve regularly read my blog, you know I haven’t participated every week since joining. Even in the weeks when I’ve failed to participate, I’ve learned through studying the work of others and reading feedback via Twitter. Including #MMVizReview in your Twitter submission also offers a fantastic opportunity to get feedback directly from Andy and Eva, via their weekly webinar. Also on May 1st, having heard a lot about the book in recent months, I ordered The Big Book of Dashboards. If you haven’t, ORDER IT NOW, as it is worth every penny!!

Summer Months – Text, Hurdles and Football

On July 5th, I read a great blog post from Pooja Gandi called Let’s talk about text! In the post, Pooja shared a handful of neat text box tricks that she uses in almost all of her vizzes. I had always admired the beauty of Pooja’s work, so needless to say, when she shared this post, I was thrilled!! After failing to find a data set I felt comfortable with for the second 2017 #IronViz feeder contest, on August 6th, I entered my first #IronViz submission, as part of the third feeder contest. For me, entering the contest meant clearing a big mental hurdle and you can read more about that here. I was feeling very confident following my #IronViz submission and the positive feedback I received, so when Sean Miller tweeted out on August 14th, that he wanted to start a Tableau Community Fantasy Football league, I was all in. I felt it could be a great opportunity to make some connections and have a little fun all at the same time. THE data LEAGUE features some pretty amazing people!! But, we won’t get into how my team has performed…

Fall is Here – Blogging, Goals and TCTUG

After at least a month or two of kicking around the idea of starting a blog, unsure whether or not the timing was right, on September 19th I decided to just do it. That night, I chose my platform, purchased my domain, picked the theme, design and all that good stuff, and also published my very first Data Viz blog post. Jeff’s DataViz Journey was born and I had officially cleared another major hurdle!!

Having goals is very important. Writing them down is even more important. Until October 23rd, I had been terrible at getting my goals out of my head and onto paper. On the Subject of #VizGoals by Mark Edwards helped me turn the corner, get them written down and start focusing on them. The very next day, I went out and bought a notebook, where my goals and many other viz related things (blog post ideas, viz ideas, viz sketches, etc.) now reside. On October 25th, I read Learning Tableau by Jeffrey Shaffer. Please read this as well!! Jeffrey’s post has a ton of information for those looking to get started in the Tableau Community. Blogs, Social Media, Tableau User Groups, Videos, Books, Trainings…you name it, it is likely in here!!

In November, somewhere around a two-year hiatus, I once again attended a Twin Cities Tableau User Group Meeting. If you have a TUG in your area, I highly recommend attending, if you can work it into your schedule. I happened to be off the day of the November TCTUG meeting and things fell nicely into place, so I attended. My goal is to attend future meetings as frequently as possible. Yours should be too.

It was very rewarding to see Paul McHale’s November 16th blog post Learning from the Tableau Community in which he thanked me for providing him with the inspiration to share his work. In his post, Paul said he related very strongly to my blog post, ‘Overcoming the Fear to Share.’ It was great to see my blog have a positive impact on someone else in the community. That’s what it’s all about!! On November 24th, the day after Thanksgiving, I felt extra thankful, as Simon Beaumont mentioned me in a #TableauFF tweet. Simon, thank you again for the mention, it is greatly appreciated!! For quite awhile, I had been seeing #TableauFF on Friday’s, but never really understood what it meant until recently. For those who are unaware, it stands for Tableau Follow Friday and is a hashtag used (on Friday’s) as an opportunity to find and welcome new members of the community.

Winter – A Great Start

Alicia Bembenek’s December 3rd blog post, Who Else Wants to Up Their Blog Game? really hit home with me. My blog was closing in on being three-months old and although I did have six posts and counting, there was something I didn’t have…ANY SORT OF SET PLAN!! With a list of potential topics, a plan on when to write will be essential if I’m to be successful.

And on December 6th, Tableau Public recognized me as one of ten new Featured Authors and for that I am extremely thankful!! Congratulations to the nine other Tableau Public Featured Authors as well, I am honored to be a part of this great group!!

Thank you for taking the time to read, my hope is that you’re able to take some information and inspiration out of this post and apply it to your own Data Viz Journey!!

#MakeoverMonday Scores 100 Weeks!!

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In another month, #MakeoverMonday will be two years old, but for the time being, a big congratulations are in order for Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray, as well as #MakeoverMonday alum, Andy Cotgreave, as #MakeoverMonday celebrates its 100th week!! As a member of the community, who benefits from all of the time and hard work the #MakeoverMonday crew continues to put in to make this project what it is today, I would like to extend a very warm thank you!!

I only became aware of #MakeoverMonday earlier this year, but in the last thirty-two weeks, have learned a lot about Tableau and Data Visualization, by following the superb work of others, as well as participating myself. This recent tweet by Louise Shorten prompted me to explore my own #MakeoverMonday participation. And while I got off to a sluggish start, batting just 6 for 21 or 0.285 (for the baseball fans out there…if any are left) in my first twenty-one weeks, my participation has improved. My participation since Week 39 is much better, at 7 for 10. Kudos to Charlie Hutcheson and Neil Richards for participating in all 100 weeks, thus far!! That is unbelievably impressive!! If anyone else achieved this as well, I apologize for having left you out.

Here are a few goals incorporated as part of my #MakeoverMonday submissions, which can all be found here;

  • Try Something New; slope charts, lollipop charts, small multiples, diverging bar chart, dot plot, hex-map. These are some approaches I tried for the first time in Tableau, during a #MakeoverMonday submission.
  • Keep It Simple; Here’s an area I’m working to improve on, as I have a tendency to go too far and oversimplify things. I’m really not a fan of too much text in a viz, but understanding when it is necessary is the key. Assuming the audience knows nothing about the data set is good practice, to ensure your viz is being properly labeled.
  • Get Feedback; I typically like to get my wife’s take on my work before submitting it, but that’s not always possible as I’m much more of a night owl than a 7-month pregnant woman!! However, if you don’t yet know about it, when submitting your #MakeoverMonday viz, include the hashtag #MMVizReview and Andy and Eva will review it during that week’s Viz Review. You can view previous webinars or register for future ones here. Do this, the feedback is fantastic!!
  • Be Different; For me this one sort of happens by default. Due to fatherhood and just life happening in general, I don’t typically get to the new data sets right away. Therefore, by the time my viz gets underway, I’ve already seen several others, on Twitter. However, I’ve come to enjoy this, as it gives me a chance to change gears and think of alternative ways to present the data, when I see Tweets come through that are similar to my initial plans.
  • Explore the Work of Others; At the end of the day, it’s all about learning and improving, so downloading and exploring the workbooks of other vizzes that have piqued my interest is a must. Whether it’s learning how to build a new chart, write a new calculation, formatting and design tips, etc. this is another great way to learn.