Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tv8 - Worksheet and Dashboard Menu Improvements

The existing menus

As seen on the left below, the current Tableau v8 beta (6) Worksheet and Dashboard menus are laid out very differently in the ordering of their individual menu items.

The lack of consistency in placement of corresponding menu items makes it much harder than it needs to be to develop the spatial sense of where the options are.

This in turn makes working with Worksheets and Dashboards through the menus much more of a hunt-and-peck operation than the smooth, low-friction activity it should be.

New Users will experience this cognitive mismatch as a significant barrier to achieving comfort, and even if they're not aware of it, will feel less welcome in the Tableau environment than they could, or should.

See the Tableau Public published Workbook for a clearer presentation: here.

The improved menus

These menus have been improved primarily by aligning the same, or equivalent, items into the same location, to the degree possible.

They also bring in the "Duplicate..." item. Having the ability to duplicate the current Worksheet or Dashboard from the keyboard is very, very valuable usability feature. "Duplicate Sheet" was in the Edit menu in Tableau v6, and was mysteriously dropped for v7. It's time it came back, along with its "Duplicate Dashboard" cousin.

The Worksheet menu also includes the "Format" option. Why is wasn't there is perplexing; "Format" is a pervasive menu option, occurring in many places in Tableau, it should be here.

I'm not sure whether "Duplicate as Crosstab" sohuld remain as a first-level Worksheet menu item, or if it should be one of the options on the submenu. So I left it in.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jittery Charts - Why They Dance and How to Stop Them

Tableau makes it so easy to create truly high quality visualizations that reveal valuable insights.

Combining individual vizzes into dashboards is a good thing. But it's not nearly as easy as it should be.

This post covers one of the subtle yet significant barriers to creating the highest possible visual quality presentations — chart jittering.

I've spent too much time trying to get the various components in my dashboards to be visually stable, both internally and with respect to their alignments with one another.

The following Tableau Public-published workbook contains my findings into trying to puzzle out this mysterious behavior, and what can be done about it.

One of the things that makes puzzling this out difficult and tricky is the sensitivity of the jitters to the context that the individual chart is presented in. It's particularly vexing that seemingly simple and innocuous dashboard changes can alter the jittering behavior of the charts it contains. I'm confident that I've only scratched the surface of everything there is to discover and document on the issue, but at some point enough is enough, particularly when a solution that works in the scenarios I've tested it is at hand.