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6 Advanced Visualizations in Tableau

An overview of advanced visualizations in Tableau, including step-by-step examples

Image by Author: Advanced visualizations in Tableau

Tableau is a data visualization tool used to create data visualizations, dashboards, and stories. When I first started using this tool, I often used the Show Me feature to create data visualizations. This feature allows users to create common visualization types, such as bar charts and line graphs.

Image by Author: Tableau Show Me Feature

While the standard visualizations are great, there are times when an advanced technique is needed. Recently I created a dashboard visualizing deals made on the show Shark Tank. Below are some advanced visualization techniques used in that dashboard, with step-by-step guidance on how to recreate the visuals — either with the same dataset or a different one! This list can also be a great way to learn about different visualization types and brainstorm how to incorporate them in other tools!

This post goes through the following 6 data visualization techniques.

Donut ChartsSankey DiagramsWord CloudsLollipop ChartsRadial ChartsNested Bar Chart

The final dashboard can be viewed here. Additional information regarding the dataset can be found here.

Note: Several of the visualizations utilize a field, Number of Records. Before creating any visualizations, create a new field, Number of Records, and set the value equal to 1. To view the dataset with all calculated fields, download the dataset from the dashboard linked above, or download the dataset here.

Donut Charts

Donut charts, like pie charts, show parts to a whole relationship. They are different in that there is a hole in the center of the circle, like a donut.

The donut chart in the Shark Tank dashboard shows the total pitches made, segmented based on Deal or No Deal.

To create this donut chart, start by creating a pie chart in a new worksheet.

From the Data Pane, add the Number of Records (i.e. Number of Pitches) to the Columns shelf, and Got Deal to the Rows shelf.

Note: Make sure to convert the Got Deal measure to a dimension, as shown in the image below.

Image by Author: Number of Records measure on Columns shelf and Got Deal dimension on Rows shelf

Select the pie chart visualization type from the Show Me tab. This will generate the base visualization for the donut chart.

Image by Author: Base pie chart for developing donut chart

On the Rows shelf, add two new measures. Type AVG(0) on the Rows shelf twice. (i.e. AVG(0) AVG(0)). Once added to the Rows shelf, you will see two pie charts.

Image by Author: Two pie charts, result of AVG(0) AVG(0) addition to Rows shelf

Select Dual Axis on the second measure on the Rows shelf to overlap the two pie charts.

Image by Author: Select Dual Axis

The two pie charts will now overlap one another. Adjust the size of each pie chart to create the donut shape. Under the Marks card, select Size and increase the size of the pie charts by moving the slider to the right.

Image by Author: Adjust size of pie chart

To create the inner donut, adjust the second, or bottom pie chart. On the Marks card, navigate to the card for the second measure, and remove all fields. In this case, there are 4 fields to remove.

Image by Author: Remove additional fields from Marks card

Removing these fields will result in a gray circle in the center. This is the center of the donut chart. Adjust the size on the Marks card to adjust the size of the donut.

Image by Author: Adjust size of inner circle of donut chart

Use the Marks card to adjust the color of the center of the donut chart.

Image by Author: Adjust color of center of donut chart to white to match chart background

Use the first pie chart, the second tile under the Marks card, to adjust the labels and colors of the donut chart.

Image by Author: Format label and colors on donut chart

Add text to the center of the donut chart by moving a measure to Label on the All Marks card.

Image by Author: Add text to center of donut chart

Right click on the headers, and uncheck Show Header to remove axis headers.

Image by Author: Remove headers on chart

Right click anywhere on the worksheet and select Format to open the Format pane. Use the Format pane to hide gridlines, adjust the border, change the background color, and more.

Image by Author: Open Format Pane for additional formatting capabilities

The following image shows the final donut chart, after formatting with the Marks card and Format pane.

Image by Author: Donut Chart Displaying Total Pitches by Deal or No Deal

Sankey Diagrams

Sankey diagrams display flows from one entity to another. The sankey diagram in the Shark Tank dashboard displays the flow of deals from pitchers gender (i.e. team composition) to industry.

Step 1: Self-Union

To create a Sankey diagram, upload the dataset, and then create a self-union of the data source. The following image shows the dataset loaded, with a total of 1274 records and 50 fields.

Image by Author: Initial Shark Tank US dataset loaded into Tableau

To create a self-union, move Shark Tank US dataset from Sheets, onto the Shark Tank US dataset on the canvas. Notice the number of rows doubles from 1274 to 2548.

Image by Author: Self-union Shark Tank dataset

The self-union creates two fields — the Table Name field will be used later in this exercise.

Image by Author: Table Name column created after self-union

Step 2: Create New Fields & Bins

To develop this Sankey diagram, create seven calculated fields and one bin. Open a new worksheet and create the following calculations. Note: Field names listed in bold below, followed by the respective calculation.

ToPad: if [Table Name] = ‘Shark Tank US dataset’ then 1 else 49 endPadded: Right click on the ToPad field and select CreateBins to create a new Bin called Padded. Set the Size of bins equal to 1.t: (INDEX() — 25) / 4Rank 1: RUNNING_SUM(SUM([Number of Records]))/TOTAL(SUM([Number of Records]))Rank 2: RUNNING_SUM(SUM([Number of Records]))/TOTAL(SUM([Number of Records]))Sigmoid: 1 / (1 + exp(1)^-[t])Curve: [Rank 1] + (([Rank 2]-[Rank 1])*[Sigmoid])Deal Sizing: WINDOW_AVG(SUM([Number of Records]))

Note: Rank 2 is a duplicate of Rank 1

The following image shows an example of how to create the calculated field, ToPad, in Tableau.

Image by Author: Example creating calculated field, ToPad, for sankey diagram

The following image shows how to create a bin on ToPad called Padded, with a bin size of 1.

Image by Author: Example creating bin, Padded, for sankey diagram

Step 3: Develop Sankey Visualization

Move t to the Columns shelf, Curve to the Rows shelf, and Padded to Detail on the Marks card.

Image by Author: Add initial fields to worksheet for Sankey diagram

Move Industry, Pitchers Gender, and Table Name to Details on the Marks Card.

Image by Author: Marks card on Sankey diagram worksheet

Select Edit Table Calculation on the Curve measure, on the Rows shelf.

Image by Author: Select Edit Table Calculation on Curve

For Rank 1, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Pitchers Gender, Industry, Padded, Table NameEnsure Pitchers Gender is at the top, as this will be on the left of the Sankey diagramImage by Author: Rank 1 table calculations

For Rank 2, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Industry, Pitchers Gender, Padded, Table NameEnsure Industry is at the top, as this will be on the right of the Sankey diagramImage by Author: Rank 2 table calculations

For t, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: PaddedImage by Author: t table calculations

Now, select Edit table calculation from the drop-down options on the t measure, on the Columns shelf. For t, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: PaddedImage by Author: t table calculations

The sankey diagram will take start to take shape on the worksheet.

Image by Author: Initial sankey diagram markings

Add color to the Sankey Diagram by changing the Mark type of the Industry and Pitchers Gender fields on the Marks card, as seen in the image below. Add Got Deal and Pitchers Gender to the Filters card, to filter the dataset to show the number of deals.

Image by Author: Format Sankey Diagram

Edit the X & Y axis range. To edit an axis, right-click on the axis and select Edit Axis.

For the Y axis (Curve) change the range to start at 0.

Image by Author: Update y-axis range

For the X axis (t) change the range to -5 to 5.

Image by Author: Update x-axis range

Hide the headers on each axis for a cleaner visual. (Note: To do this, right click on the header, and uncheck Show Header)

Move Deal Sizing to Size on the Marks card and increase the size to increase thickness of the lines on the diagram. The thickness of these lines reflects the number of deals flowing from Pitchers Gender to Industry. On Deal Sizing, select Compute using Padded, as seen in the following image.

Image by Author: Add Deal Sizing to visualization

Step 4: Create Ends of Sankey Diagram

The sankey diagram requires two bar charts, one for each end (Pitchers Gender and Industry). Open a new worksheet, and create a bar chart. The below image shows a bar chart for Pitchers Gender. Note: the color scheme used for Pitchers Gender was used in the main portion of the Sankey diagram.

Image by Author: Bar chart displaying total number of deals by Pitchers Gender

Repeat for the Industry field, but this time select the Gray color palette.

Image by Author: Bar chart displaying total number of deals by Industry

Now it’s time to put it all together! Create a new dashboard and add the three worksheets together, as seen below. Adjust the background color and borders using the Format pane.

Image by Author: Dashboard combining three visuals for Sankey Diagram

Step 5: Add dashboard actions

Add the following dashboard actions to enable hovering capabilities for the Sankey Diagram.

To add a dashboard action, from the main menu, select DashboardActionsAdd Action Highlight.

Image by Author: Add dashboard action

For Pitchers Gender, add the following Highlight Action.

Image by Author: Create highlight action for Pitchers Gender

This will allow the user to hover over the chart on the left and see where the deals are moving to on the right.

Image by Author: Pitcher Gender Highlight Action

Create another highlight action for Industry. Again, select DashboardActionsAdd ActionHighlight.

Enter the following information to create the Hover Highlight Action for Industry.

Image by Author: Create highlight action for Industry

The user can now hover over Industry, and see the proportion of Pitchers Genders making deals.

Image by Author: Industry Highlight Action

Word Clouds

Word clouds display the most common words in a text, with the most frequent words appearing the largest. The words are arranged in the shape of a “cloud”, hence the name of the visualization type, word cloud. Word clouds are useful in some cases, such as visualizing word frequency within a text column.

To create a word cloud, one dimension (categorical variable) and one measure (numerical variable) is required. This section shows how to recreate the word cloud from the Shark Tank Deals dashboard. This word cloud displays the number of deals within each industry.

To start, open a new worksheet. Move Industry onto Text on the Marks card, and Number of Records (i.e. Number of Pitches) onto Size. Additionally, move Industry to Color.

Image by Author: Initial dimensions and measures on Marks card

This will result in a heat map as seen below. To transform this visual into a word cloud, on the Marks card, change the visualization type to Text.

Image by Author: Change Mark Type on Tableau Worksheet

This results in a word cloud. Use the Marks card to make changes to the format.

Image by Author: Word Cloud Displaying the Number of Deals by Industry

Lollipop Charts

Lollipop charts are similar to bar charts. They display frequency across different categories. Where lollipop charts differ from bar charts is in the visual display. While bar charts use rectangles to display values for each category, lollipop charts add a circle to the top of each bar. This type of visualization can be useful when creating a infographic or dashboard.

The lollipop chart in the Shark Tank dashboard displays the number of deals by shark.

To begin, add Got Deal and Measure Names to the Columns shelf. Convert Got Deal to a discrete dimension by selecting the options on the field.

Image by Author: Got Deal and Measure Names added to Columns shelf

Add Measure Values to the Rows shelf twice. Don’t worry, in a few more steps the lollipop chart will start to take shape!

Image by Author: Add Measure Values to Rows shelf

On the second Measure Values field, select Dual Axis.

Image by Author: Select Dual Axis on Measure Values field

Right click on one of the y axes, and select Synchronize Axis.

Image by Author: Synchronize chart axes

On the Measure Values card, add the following fields: Barbara Invested, Daymond Invested, Kevin Invested, Lori Invested, Mark Invested, Robert Invested. Change each of these fields to Measure (Sum), as seen in the following image. Remove any other fields from the Measure Values card not in this list.

Image by Author: Measure Values final list

Add Got Deal to the Filters card. Filter for Got Deal = 1, equivalent to “Got Deal”.

Image by Author: Add Got Deal to Filters card

On the Marks card, change the chart type on the Measure Values card to Bar, and adjust the size.

Image by Author: Change chart type on Measure Values Marks card

On the second Measure Values card, change the type to Circle, and adjust the size using the Size tile.

Image by Author: Adjust size on Marks card

Move the Measure Values pill to Text tile on the Measure Values Marks card, to add labels to the circles on the chart.

Image by Author: Add labels to chart

Right click on the y-axis, and uncheck Show Header, to remove the additional header. Use the Format pane to change the background color, format axes, and modify the text labels. To open the Format pane, right click on the worksheet and select Format.

Image by Author: Open Format Pane

The following image shows the final lollipop chart.

Image by Author: Lollipop chart displaying number of deals by Shark

Radial Chart

Radial charts are another way to display categorical information. Radial charts can be a great alternative to bar charts.

In the Shark Tank dashboard, the radial chart displays deals by the number of Sharks in the deal. To create a radial chart in Tableau, one dimension and one measure is required. Additionally, 9 calculated fields and 1 bin will be created in the process. The following steps outlines how to recreate this chart.

Step 1: Self-Union

To create a radial chart, upload the dataset, and then create a self-union of the data source. The following image shows the dataset loaded, with a total of 1274 records and 50 fields.

Image by Author: Initial Shark Tank US dataset loaded into Tableau

To create a self-union, move Shark Tank US dataset from Sheets, onto the Shark Tank US dataset on the canvas. Notice the number of rows doubles from 1274 to 2548.

Image by Author: Self-union Shark Tank dataset

The self-union creates two fields — the Table Name field will be used later in this exercise.

Image by Author: Table Name field created through Self-Union process

Step 2: Create New Fields & Bins

9 calculated fields and 1 bin is needed to create this radial chart. Open a new worksheet and create the following calculations in order. Note: Field names listed in bold below, followed by the respective calculation.

Path: IIF([Table Name] = ‘Shark Tank US dataset’, 0, 270)Path (Bin): — Right click on the Path field and select CreateBins to create a new Bin called Path (Bin). Set the Size of bins equal to 1.Index-1: INDEX()-1Total Cat. Deals: WINDOW_SUM(SUM([Number of Records]))/2Total Deals: WINDOW_SUM(SUM([Number of Records]))/2Percent Calc: [Total Cat. Deals]/[Total Deals]Rank Calc: RANK_UNIQUE([Total Cat. Deals], ‘asc’)Size Calc: [Percent calc]/WINDOW_MAX([Percent calc])X: SIN(RADIANS([Index-1])*[Size calc]) * [Rank calc]Y: COS(RADIANS([Index-1])* [Size calc]) * [Rank calc]

The following image shows an example of how to create the calculated field, PATH, in Tableau.

Image by Author: Example creating calculated field, PATH, for sankey diagram

The following image shows how to create a bin on PATH called Path (bin), with a bin size of 1.

Image by Author: Example creating bin, Path (bin), for sankey diagram

Step 3: Create Visualization

Move Number of Sharks in Deal to the Colors tile on the Marks card, and Path(bin) to the Rows shelf. Check Show Missing Values on the Path(bin) field.

Image by Author: Check Show Missing Values

On the Marks card, change the mark type to Line. Move Path(Bin) from the Rows shelf to Path on the Marks Card. Make sure Number of Sharks is a dimension and not showing the sum.

Image by Author: PATH(bin) and Number of Sharks in Deal on Marks card

Move X to the Columns shelf, and Y to Rows shelf.

Image by Author: Add X & Y to Worksheet

Select Edit Table Calculation on Y.

Image by Author: Select Edit Table Calculation on Y

For Index-1, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: PATH(bin)Image by Author: Index-1 table calculations

For Size calc, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Number of sharks in deal, PATH(bin)Ensure Number of sharks in deal is at the topImage by Author: Size calc table calculations

For Total Cat. Deals, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: PATH(bin)Image by Author: Total Cat. Deals table calculations

For Total Deals, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Number of sharks in deal, PATH(bin)Ensure Number of sharks in deal is at the topImage by Author: Total Deals table calculations

For Rank calc, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Number of sharks in dealImage by Author: Rank calc table calculations

Select Edit Table Calculation on X.

Image by Author: Select Edit Table Calculation on X

For Index-1, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: PATH(bin)Image by Author: Index-1 table calculations

For Size calc, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Number of sharks in deal, PATH(bin)Ensure Number of sharks in deal is at the topImage by Author: Size calc table calculations

For Total Cat. Deals, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: PATH(bin)Image by Author: Total Cat. Deals table calculations

For Total Deals, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Number of sharks in deal, PATH(bin)Ensure Number of sharks in deal is at the topImage by Author: Total Deals table calculations

For Rank calc, update the table calculation as follows:

Select Compute Using Specific DimensionsCheck the following fields: Number of sharks in dealImage by Author: Rank calc table calculations

Once the table calculations are updated, the base of the radial chart begins to take shape.

Image by Author: Radial Chart Base

Step 4: Additional Formatting

Use the Marks card to format the visual — adjusting line thickness, color, and labels. The below image shows labels added to the beginning of each line, and a new color palette assigned. Use the Format pane on the left to remove borders and adjust the background as well.

Image by Author: Format radial chart

The following image shows the final radial chart.

Image by Author: Final radial chart

Nested Bar Chart

Another advanced visualization technique in Tableau is the nested bar chart. A nested bar chart is a way of stacking bar charts that allows you to compare two numerical values for a category. While this visualization type didn’t make it to the final dashboard, the following example shows how to create a nested bar chart using this data. The following nested bar chart displays the number of deals and number of pitches by industry.

Start by creating two bar charts on a worksheet. Move Industry to the Rows shelf, and Number of Records (i.e. total pitches) and Got Deal to the Columns shelf.

Image by Author: Two bar charts showing Deals and Pitches by Industry

From the drop-down options on Got Deal, select Dual Axis.

Image by Author: Select Dual Axis

Right click one of the x-axes, and select Synchronize Axis.

Image by Author: Synchronize chart axes

On the All Marks card, change the type to Bar.

Image by Author: Change chart type to bar

Adjust the size of the bars with the Number of Records and Got Deal Marks card. Make the Got Deals bar (navy blue) smaller than the Number of Records bar (light blue), as seen in the following image.

Image by Author: Adjust size of bars

Use the Marks card to add labels and format the visual as needed. The following image shows the final nested bar chart.

Image by Author: Nested bar chart displaying total deals and pitches by industry

And that covers 6 advanced visualizations in Tableau! While these examples are in Tableau, keep in mind these visualizations can be created in other tools as well — so use them as inspiration as you develop your next data visualization!

The final dashboard is available here for viewing or downloading source materials.

Payal is a Data & AI specialist. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and writing on Medium. If you enjoy her work, follow or subscribe to her list, and never miss a story!

The above article is personal and does not necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

References

[1]: Thirumani, Satya. “🦈 Shark Tank Us Dataset 🇺🇸.” Kaggle, 28 Aug. 2023, www.kaggle.com/datasets/thirumani/shark-tank-us-dataset. (CC0: Public Domain license)

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