With the latest release of Tableau, the 2019.2 version, there are several awesome new features that the Tessellation team got to try out. Here’s what our team had to say about them!
Vector Mapping (Shaun Davis & John Emery)
I have to choose one? Then I choose Vector Mapping. It’s not a term that resonates outside of the spatial world, but is huge. Vector mapping allows labels, roads and other features to draw faster and in a way that matches our mapping experiences on other platforms. Prior to 2019.2, the mapping environment was basically a set of images that were stitched together and had geographic coordinates associated with them.
Some of the big changes are how labels redraw at multiple locations along the streets and the absence of adjacent map tiles which are pixelated and draw slowly. The performance improvements are super evident, since I waited until most of the map tiles loaded in the before image, resulting in more time going from a high view to street view. Overall, these mapping improvements match those you expect to see with Google Maps or your chosen mapping platform.
Parameter Actions (Aidan)
I love creating visualizations that users can interact with and explore, so I’m most excited about parameter actions! This opens huge new possibilities for dashboard functionality and I can’t wait to play with them more.
Replace Worksheet in a Dashboard (Alicia)
Ok, you may not think the replace worksheet in a dashboard feature can compete for the thrills and excitement of the new map and parameter action features. BUT I’d like to show you how useful this feature can be.
Now, I can swap out a state map for a hex map and vice versa using the swap/replace worksheet feature in Tableau v2019.2.
Previously, I had to use the old method of dragging the worksheet onto the dashboard and removing the original worksheet. I had to take many additional steps to get the formatting right again.
It’s a hassle. First, I have to remove the legends that automatically came in with the worksheet. Second, I need to reformat the worksheet. My accent borders on the dashboard were created by having a dark background for the container. So now I have to change the background color of the worksheet from none to white and also change the padding of the worksheet.
Basically, I could swap out the worksheets five times in the same amount of time it takes me to reformat everything using the old method of dragging a worksheet in. So thank you Tableau for the replace worksheets feature!
Collapseable Containers (Steve):
[There is a highly significant bug in Tableau Public regarding this feature at the moment which I’ll detail below (with a work-around I have discovered), but first let’s talk about the great reality of this feature that’s just around the corner.]
Pixels are often at a premium in dashboards, and many times I want to give users access to detailed descriptions, instructions, or even filters and parameters without leaving those elements on-screen all the time. As with many new features, there were already some hacks for accomplishing similar things in Tableau before, but now it’s quite easy for anyone to incorporate collapse-able containers (aka Show/Hide containers) into their dashboard design.
For example, I’ve spruced up a fun dashboard of mine with a collapse-able container because some people reached out to me with “Sorry, I just don’t quite get it” messages and I felt it would be good to let them get a deeper explanation for how this charts works.
Click for the interactive dashboard
This example only scratched the surface of this feature’s capabilities, and many people will come up with much more innovative applications. In fact, I expect this to be revolutionary to the standard of Tableau design, and many great developers may eventually feel a need to balance application-development principles alongside their skills for data visualization.
[Back to the problem I mentioned before.] As of May 24th, 2019 there’s a bug in this feature in Tableau Public which leads to undisplayed text in certain circumstances. Here’s a comparison of an earlier version of the above collapsible container in Desktop and on Public via Google Chrome:
The strangest thing about this glitch was that one of the text objects “Change objectives ↓” was present in both while the other 2 disappeared. This led me to my fix for this issue: pasting a white “↓” into every text object made all of them visible. I can’t really explain why this glitch exists or how my hack cancels it out, but there you go.]
Show/Hide Dashboard Containers (Spencer)
This feature is very important for preserving dashboard space by eliminating the need for filters to be shown all the time. In my time developing with Spotfire this was always a feature that I wish Tableau had, but now it’s here! Having loads of filters on one dashboard can clog up the flow of the dashboard and make navigation confusing, but having filters be able to drop down will greatly increase the amount of filters available as developers will be more prone to include them. This will help especially with exploratory dashboards where users are trying to sort and filter to find answers.
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