Sheet Swapping and Popping with Joe Oppelt (and a Tip on Searching the Tableau Forums)

Here is a quick and easy Saturday morning post!

Tableau Forums user Joe Oppelt and I wanted to put a video out that shows how to build a Tableau Dashboard with Worksheets that show or hide based on a Parameter selection, AND each worksheet has an object that pops in and out of the dashboard display, based on the user’s selection in a Parameterized list of values.

The first part of this is very much like the “sheet swapping” technique shown in one of  Tableau’s own KB articles:

Another great resource for learning more is Joshua Milligan‘s “Sheet Selection on Steroids” post, in which he comprehensively covers Tableau scenarios that can be used to initiate a Sheet Swap on a Dashboard, including Quick Filters, Action Filters, and even Swapping based on the number of items selected!  His blog posts are very thorough and easy to follow, which is why I refer to them often!

Quick Side Note: Joshua did a great Think Data Thursday presentation, which uses some sheet swapping techniques, on 10/2/2014; you can watch his TDT Video here, or in the TDT Video Library.

These tricks can be expanded in many ways — my goal in posting this is to show you a couple of methods Joe uses in his own work for accomplishing this swapping and popping of objects on a dashboard.  This does not cover all use cases, and your own mileage may vary based on what you hope to accomplish.  The video quality is decent, but the cursor does not match all of Joe Oppelt’s mouse clicks during his demo (that may have been my fault, as this was the first recording I was hosting myself)–I hope the main concepts shown are clear to those who watch the video — your feedback is most certainly welcome!

If you want to see many other tricks along these same lines, I would recommend reading through Tableau Forum user Ville Tyrväinen‘s posts… his Activity stream has many threads in which he has posted workarounds/tricks related to Sheet Swapping and Popping.   I believe Joe has been very inspired by Ville’s posts on the Forums, and I cannot credit him enough for teaching others on the Tableau Forums some new tricks!

For me, the most important pieces here are: realizing the impact of the filter used on each sheet, and the impact of sheets being placed inside of a layout container together.   There are several other tricks I picked up from Joe through making this video, though:  one was that Floating Objects on a dashboard can be placed outside the boundaries of that dashboard by inputting values directly in the “Layout” pane.  Tableau will not allow us to drag them off the dashboard, but as Joe shows in the video, we can type in whatever values we want to position a Floating Object any place we like!

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the Comments section, or at the Tableau Forums post where Joe shared the video publicly:

I hope this can serve as a reference point for users trying to learn similar tricks in Tableau.  I also hope users will see how incredibly easy this video was to make for Joe and I.  All it took was some willingness to reach out (I asked Joe if he’d do this video with me), and about an hour of our time on a Saturday.  I would encourage other Tableau users to reach out to others, and do screen sharing sessions, or record your own videos to share with others!


Did you know that the Tableau Community Forums has two search options?  The one in the top-right corner of every page is for searching the entire website:

Searches Entire Tableau Site

While the search found on the Tableau  Community Welcome Page under “What are you looking For?’ will only search Forum posts:

Type Forum Questions Here

I hope this helps clear up some confusion!

Until next time.


Tableau Request Live – The 2nd Episode: Data Densification


For this week’s Tableau Request Live episode (a Saturday exploration of Tableau with Joe Mako and yours truly, recorded live), we dig deeper into the complexities of Data Densification in Tableau.  The 1st Episode of TRL focused on a specific Tableau problem of solving a User Retention Rate with a Single Date and ID field, and we briefly touched on some of the concepts that are explored in more depth in the 2nd Episode.

No, “Densification” is not a term you’ll find in the available Tableau KB articles or other official documentation available from Tableau Software.  Data Densification is an umbrella term power users have used to describe scenarios when marks (data) are added to your view.  There are two main types: Domain Completion and Domain Padding.  Both types of Densification behaviors are explored in the video, and yes, there are cases when both occur at the same time.

In brief, Domain Completion occurs when marks (data) are added for potential Dimension value combinations in a view/worksheet.  Domain Padding is what happens when marks (data) are added for potential values in the range of a Range Aware pill, which includes both Date Dimensions and Bins in Tableau.  This is typically “turned on” by using the “Show Missing Values” option on a Range Aware pill, which makes it a bit easier to define and understand, from my perspective.

I could try to write my own synopsis of the video itself, but the recording and the resources linked within the video description are meant to serve as an ongoing reference point — what is shown in the video and written in the description and links is based on the in-depth study and current working knowledge of many Tableau users, including (but not limited to) Joe Mako, Jonathan Drummey, Richard Leeke, and Jim Wahl (there are many others who have contributed to this ongoing understanding, including Tableau employees, developers, and many other Tableau users in the Community).

Again, the documentation and content of the video itself are simply based on the current working knowledge of Tableau users in the larger online community, and the current version of Tableau software (8.2 as of the day the video was recorded and this blog post was written).  We hope the video becomes obsolete very quickly, and that we will have more direct control over Data Densification in future versions of Tableau.

With that being said, let this video serve as one reference point for Data Densification behaviors in Tableau. In the live recording, Joe and I walk through the two main types of Data Densification (Domain Completion and Domain Padding), conditions to turn it on, how to turn it off, and exceptions. Some of the scenarios shown in the video are edge cases, but if you have ever wondered why Tableau is making more marks then there are records, Data Densification is the reason.

The awareness that Densification may or may not be occurring is what we hope users will gain from resources like this.

Joe and I hope you can gain an awareness of what is happening when your number of marks suddenly changes on your Tableau canvas!  Sometimes Data Densification behaviors are helpful and they may allow us to build views that we otherwise could not — we would simply like to have more direct control over whether it is ON or OFF in a given view.

I, personally, hope other users see the videos we are making, and start making their own!  I’ll say this, as well: Joe Mako spends hours, every day, helping Tableau users (and I consider him to be the “Teacher” in our relationship) — reach out to Joe, or someone else, and teach/learn collaboratively!  These videos are recorded using a free online application, and it is VERY easy to record a video like this one.

Below are some further resources on the topics explored and discussed in the video:

Document used in video:
‘Tableau Data Densification’


Jonathan Drummey’s post mentioned in the Video:
‘At the Level – Unlocking the Mystery Part 1: Ordinal Calcs’


Two related threads from the Tableau Community Forum:
‘Can I add rows to underlying data from Tableau?’:
‘Historical Chart on WINDOW_AVG data not working’:


Keith Helfrich‘s “Master Tableau Concepts”:


Tableau Software’s Customer-Generated “Think Data Thursday” Video Library:
(videos on Domain Padding, Data Scaffolding, and Table Calc videos are all related to Densification in one way or another)


Another plug for Jonathan Drummey’s Blog, which has several posts that discuss related concepts:

Until next time.

Tableau’s TC14 Conference – #DATA14 in 4 Parts

Well, I’ve just returned to Indianapolis and my first priority was to get a Tableau-centric blog up and running, so here I am!

As a first post, and to get the ball rolling, I wanted to share four main reflections on this year’s Tableau Conference (#DATA14):

More is Coming

Whether you watched the TC14 Keynote or not, many things are coming down the pipeline:  Performance improvements seem to be a large part of this, but I also saw some interesting visual “helpers” in upcoming releases–things like highlighting marks while using Table Calculations, so the user can more easily understand concepts like “Partitioning”, “Addressing”, and “Compute Using” (nothing in the demo about “At the Level” unfortunately).  A tablet-specific Server app, quick wins in Formatting Story Points, more visual options for using and editing calculations, reference lines, and a many, many more great features were announced.  You can watch the Keynote to get all the details on what was shown in the Demo portion.  I hope to keep this post short and sweet…  like the Conference itself, there is no way I will cover everything I would like, so I’m just sort-of winging it here!

The User Community is Amazing… and Growing!

I thought I knew the “Community” of Tableau Users from being active on the Tableau Forums, but I quickly learned I know very few of the users who interact with Tableau on a daily basis. Being named a 2014 Zen Master certainly helped me meet some power users, but I also met many everyday users who struggle–and have great successes–with Tableau on a regular basis.  It was amazing to meet all types of users.  Special shout outs to Tableau users/customers Richard Leeke, Toby Erkson, Keith Helfrich, Shawn Wallwork, Noah Salvaterra, Jonathan Drummey (whose blog, Drawing with Numbers, has been a great source of learning and inspiration over the past year) and many, many more for making me feel welcome and for teaching me a thing or two in the process.  This was my second conference, but as a newly appointed Zen Master, it was quite different from my first. It was also the first time I have presented at the Tableau Conference–my session is listed here.

The opportunities were vast, and  the fun never ended. I’m still buzzin’ with thoughts in how to apply what I saw or heard in sessions…

Tableau Rocks a Conference

Sir-Mix-a-Lot, Hans Rosling (whom I was able to meet in person), John Medina, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Tableau employees/customers, constant opportunities for networking, learning, and FUN…  Need I say more?  This conference ROCKS in a very unique way, from a former school teacher’s perspective–the Edu conferences I’ve attended are wonderful learning and networking opportunities, but certainly not as FUN as the Tableau Conference!

if you are not familiar with the Tableau Conference, take a look at the TC14 Agenda and you’ll get an idea.  There really is nothing like it.  The employees are passionate about their product, and we as customers are just as equally passionate about finding ways to utilize it creatively.  This makes for an excellent conference, with more material than one could ever hope to digest in one short week. Many of us will spend hours pouring through the material post-conference!

I Have a Lot to Learn

While I did not get to attend every single session I wanted to see (this is nearly impossible), I saw enough to open my eyes to the fact that my work in learning Tableau is nowhere near finished.  I’ve learned a quite a lot in the past 12 months about Table Calculations, and other “tricky” concepts, mostly thanks to folks like Jonathan Drummey and Joe Mako–who have worked diligently to help others understand undocumented and difficult-to-grasp concepts in Tableau.  However, I saw several sessions that focused on features that allow us to avoid the complexities and limitations of Table Calculations.  These included utilizing sets, data blends, and other Tableau concepts to accomplish what I may have “brute-forced” with a Table Calc in the past.  I’m particularly interested in the duplicate data source self-blend techniques demonstrated by Jonathan and others, like Bethony Lyons, a Tableau Product Consultant based in the UK.  I cannot wait to review the session videos and learn more (hmm, maybe a second blog post on this technique is in order?)

Being named a Zen Master can be intimidating, because so many of the Zens have pushed the boundaries of what can be accomplished with Tableau.  However, this group of users is humble and understands that Tableau is a tool that encompasses a HUGE number of features… and no one Zen is an expert in all areas of Tableau.  We all share attributes of the Zen requirements: Product Mastery, Innovation, and Teaching/Sharing — but we all do this in different ways.  This is important for anyone looking to Zen Masters for help in Tableau:  none of us know everything about the Product, but we all do our best to guide you toward your own understanding of the Product.  In addition, many of us are Zen Masters by night, supporting our mystical habits with 9-5 jobs! I hope to post more on becoming a Zen Master and how it impacted my TC14 experience in a subsequent post.

In Closing

I would have liked to have mentioned many more folks in this post–I met so many new people at the Conference, it would be impossible to thank them all here.  Just know, if you’re in the Tableau Community of users and employees, I appreciate all that you do to help others utilize this tool!

I may focus the next post on some of the highlights of the conference, as a new Zen Master: comments, thoughts, ideas? Share them in the comments below, or reach out via Twitter: @mluttonBI. This being my first post, I’m wide open to ideas for improvement, and would love to hear your thoughts on how to make the most of this little space on the web.

Until next time.