New in Tableau 8: Floating Content

This week we are continuing our 'New in Tableau 8' series with an example of floating dashboard content. We use the empty space around a map to place legends, quick filters and titles.

Both the original by Peter Aldhous, created in version 6.0, and this 8.0 remake are based on the same data-set, patent filings per capita for major metropolitan areas in the United States.

In staying true to the original viz, we only made aesthetic and functional changes using the new overlapping features:

  • The cities with the highest and lowest patents per capita are the focus of this story and I wanted to stay true to Peter's original viz. The slight change in mark sizes and borders helps accent the clusters of high and low ranked metro areas as well as areas where they coincide. Regions with high patents per capita such as the New England states and bands of low patents per capita such as inland California really stick out.
  • We chose to adjust a few map features, specifically hiding the state and country names and using the gray scheme map to drive focus to the colored marks. By extending Peter's color scheme to the sheet heading the marks and ranking sheets no longer need a color legend.
  • The oceans around the continental US are a perfect location for 'floating' dashboard content, such as filters, legends, annotations, and titles. By zooming out and panning the map I was able to create additional space in the Gulf of Mexico for the Underachievers and Overachievers graphs.
  • The addition of dashboard actions allows the ranking sheets and map to highlight each other. This functionality helps the viewer quickly see a city's ranking as well as other similarly rated cities. Clicking on a city's bar graph highlights its location on the map to compare with neighboring cities.

Floating objects will give us the flexibility to completely rethink dashboard design and we are excited to see how Tableau authors embrace this new feature.

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