For some time now I’ve been curious about floating in Tableau. Curious to try and understand it in the same way I understand tiled and layout containers.

For a new Tableau user containers may not make a lot of sense, they are also a bit temperamental and give you no room for error… But once you’ve master the use and order of containers in Tableau, the formatting and design of a dashboard becomes a lot easier. If you’ve just got started with Tableau, keep at it my friend the light is there you just have to keep going.

When showing someone the joys of Tableau I’ve always took the time to talk about containers and formatting, but I’ve recently heard a number of voices I respect and look up to, advocating the use of floating all the time. Yes you read that right, going 100% floating, not just your logo on the corner or some bit of text, the whole thing…. – “I know I was stunned too.”giphy (2)

I’d done a bit of dashboard floating in the past. For instance the dashboard below from my Iron Viz entry had quite a few floating elements…

2

…but I was really just scratching the surface there, until a couple weeks ago. For Makeover Monday focusing on the death penalty in the US I decided to go all out and try and create a fully floating dashboard.

Here’s the final result:

Death row.png

It probably took me a little longer to create than otherwise would, because I had to get my brain engaged in the floating swing of things.

But here are 3 of my takeaways from experimenting with floating, as I use it more I’m sure I’ll find others as well.

Precision Sizing

Precision sizing – in floating mode Tableau allows you to define nor only the size of the object but also the exact position. This can be extremely useful when trying to align content in a dashboard. I’m extremely picky with this and have spent many minutes making sure all my dashboards align correctly.

P

Reorder Position – Similar to Powerpoint or any layered image manipulation software, in floating mode Tableau allows you to control the order of each of the elements in the dashboard. i.e you could “send backward” a chart

R

Overlay graphics – This is truly the essence of floating the ability to overlay the charts or images in Tableau, that way we can make better use of the space around the charts we’ve created, as it was the case with the circle below. Here I’m using the chart plus two images overlaying on top of the circle.

US Children

While looking for information about floating I’ve come across this post from Nelson Davis who has also tested performance of Tiled vs Floating dashboards and floating appears to be faster. Though this was done back in 2014 and Tableau have improved a great deal since. But it’s worth bearing it in mind.

Design for performance by Nelson Davis

On the other hand here’s a Tableau Tip from Andy Kriebel on creating long form dashboards, Andy uses a tiled approach with some great tips.

Tableau Tip Tuesday: Layout Tips for Long Form Dashboards

As a final thought, if you are taking the first steps using Tableau I’d say it will be worth your time to know how to work with both tiled and floating dashboards. It would make you a more competent user and you can decide when to use each of the methods according the end result you are looking for.

Hope you found it helpful, thank you for reading.

David