Award Winning Tips

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Posted by Ben Joneson April 29, 2014

To celebrate the altruism of the online community of Tableau users, the Tableau Public team declared April to be "Tableau Tips Month" on our blog. Our stated goal was to share tutorials, guides, tips, hacks, and generally useful stuff all month long.

We published guest blog posts, some of our own, and we invited users to contribute their own useful techniques or poignant insights by tweeting a link using the hashtag #TableauTipsMonth.

To see who contributed, visit the tagboard we created to track all of the tweets.

We also mentioned that we'd announce winners of six prestigious awards:

  • Most Useful - goes to the tutorial that is the most practical and useful
  • Most Sage - goes to the blog post that is the most wise and insightful
  • Most Mind-Blowing - goes to the how-to guide that is the most ingenious and creative in it's approach
  • Most Wacky - goes to the guide that is the most off-the-wall and crazy
  • Most Hacky - goes to the technique that breaks all the rules and does things it probably shouldn't
  • Most Beautiful - goes to the tip that most allows us to enhance the look-and-feel of our visualizations

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Most Useful goes to Nelson Davis

The Vizioneer's #Tableau30for30 series set a new precedent for helpfulness. To celebrate his 30th birthday, Nelson published 30 different tips on 30 consecutive days during the month of April.

A number of his daily tips could have won this award, but our team felt his post on day 11 - "Switch between fields", was the most helpful, and a technique we find ourselves using time and time again to change which measure is visualized in a particular view or dashboard. Bravo, Nelson - way to get across the finish line, and we're looking forward to #Tableau31for31 next year! ;)

Most Sage goes to Kelly Martin

Tableau Zen Master, 2013 Iron Viz contestant and Viz Candy blogger Kelly Martin knows her stuff, and she drops some words of pure data wisdom like only she can in her blog post "5 Tips to Good Vizzin".

In this instant classic, Kelly exhorts her readers to "know thy audience", "know thy data", ask the important "preguntas", "talk, talk, talk", and then "shuddup already!"

Her perspective is invaluable and her style is inimitable, which is why we chose this blog post as the Most Sage of the bunch.

Most Mind-Blowing goes to our own Jewel Loree

Tableau Data Analyst Jewel Loree enlisted the help of fellow Tableau employee Michael Kovner to solve a tricky challenge: how to embed a dynamic web page inside a dashboard while also sending readers who click on a table link to an external site.

The key to the solution: the JavaScript API. What's so "mind-blowing" about it is that once you see how this technique is done, you realize that dashboards can be made to interact with web pages in countless other ways.

Most Wacky goes to Matt Francis

With a title like "How a Rubber Duck can improve your Tableau Viz", we simply had no choice but to award the Most Wacky award to Matt Francis of "Wanna Be Data Rock Star."

And if you want to know what we think of the advice in Matt's post, it was the runner-up for Most Sage. "If you work with other people in an office ask someone to sit with you while you go through your dashboard."

Where does the duck come in? If no one is around, Matt suggests that you "get yourself a little rubber duck, sit it on your desk and explain to it what your viz is supposed to work." Classic

Most Hacky goes to Andrew Ball

Once you use Tableau for a little while, you start to realize that it's possible to create many types of charts that aren't in "Show Me". The Information Lab's Andrew Ball has done just that with his three part tutorial on how to create the ever-controversial radar charts.

All we need to tell you to understand why we awarded this series "Most Hacky" is that the tutorial includes the WINDOW_MAX table calc as well as calculated fields that include the sine and cosine functions.

Thanks for taking us back to our high school trigonometry class, Andrew, and thanks for hacking Tableau to make it break all the rules! Great stuff.

Most Beautiful goes to Peter Gilks

It's little surprise that Paint by Numbers blogger and Design Month guest contributor Peter Gilks has created a new chart type that can only be described as "Beautiful". Peter's "ballcode" charts are small multiples that show the entire season of all 30 NBA teams at a glance.

The chart type draws its name from the fact that it looks quite like the UPC "barcode" symbols that we see on just about every product we buy.

Great work, Peter, your knack for visualizing data and your eye for aesthetics are a lethal combination.

Congrats to all of the award winners! Also, special honorable mention goes to Interworks and Jonathan Drummey who each posted links to their incredible repositories of helpful tips that they've created and collected.

Obviously, April doesn't signal the end of anything, as #TableauTipsMonth is pretty much every month, and has been for some time. It was fun to celebrate all the great contributors out there, and we look forward to many more tips ahead!