Keep it clean

One of the things I like most about Tableau is that it allows you to keep your dashboards clean and uncluttered while adding detail on demand just below the surface.

In this blog post I will demonstrate four methods I have used to achieve this recently, with links to posts that walk you through each process.

You can also download and investigate any of the dashboards featured from my Tableau Public profile.

Method 1 – Viz in Tooltips

Viz in Tooltips was introduced with Tableau 10.5 and allows you to insert sheets into your tooltips as well as the traditional dimensions, measures and parameters.

For me, this is a real game changer in facilitating the addition of details on demand.

Jeffrey Shaffer has written two excellent posts on how to create Viz in Tooltips which include several potential case uses:

10 tips for Viz in Tooltips | Another 10 tips for Viz in Tooltips

I used the technique recently in my viz on Female Nobel Laureates for the Midlands Tableau User Group.

By importing photos of each female laureate as a custom shape I was able to create a profile that appears when you hover over the relevant mark:

Viz in Tooltips

Method 2 – Filtering

In the same visualisation I wanted to include a section showing profiles of some of the women who have been overlooked for the Nobel prize.

With dashboard space limited, my solution was to use shapes as a filter to allow the user to cycle through the different options.

For a clear walk-through of the process, see Dash Davidson’s post How to use custom shapes as filters in your dashboard


Method 3 – Sheet Swapping

Sheet swapping produces similar results through a very different method. The trick here is to create your sheets then add them to a single container, with a parameter to allow the user to choose which is visible.

To create this visualisation I followed the steps in this blog post by Hashu Shenkar:

Tableau tip: Switch between views dynamically on a dashboard

Sheet swapping1

Method 4 – Background Images

The method I used in my St.David’s Day viz was the most labour intensive – although I did have 548 images to add manually!

The section on the left is a separate sheet with each image loaded as a background image. An image is only shown when the unique ID is selected by hovering over a dot on the dragon.

For an overview of this method (using a more sensible number of images), see Shawn Wallwork’s post QT: Dynamically Switch Images Using Filter.

Happy St David's Day

3 thoughts on “Keep it clean

  1. Hi David,

    I just discovered your work and I like what you are doing! This is a good article. I noticed your comment about having to add 548 images manually and the reference to Shawn’s work. Two years ago, I developed a technique (or should I say that I stumbled upon a Tableau technique) for dynamically displaying images without manually specifying them. Here is the article:

    I’m looking forward to following your work. Thanks for sharing your insights.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing Ken, I would never have thought to use the Web Page option. One of the things I like most about Tableau is that there is always more to learn.

    I have just starting reading your blog, it looks like a wonderful resource.

    Kind regards,


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