Best of the Tableau Web: April 2021

I started my career as a software engineer, creating applications for schools. If anyone used RM Number Magic (pictured below) as a kid, I was on that team. Let me know on Twitter if you used it! I was very proud of the calculation engine that I built, and on reflection, perhaps less proud of how easy we made it to create 3D charts. Writing efficient programming code was, and is, a fun, rewarding puzzle.


Progressing in my career, I found that I loved drag and drop tools more than programming. That’s why, when I first used Tableau in 2007, it was an epiphany. At that time, I was an Excel guru, able to make anything data-related happen with a VBA macro, and had plenty of time. With Tableau? I could do the same, and more, without needing to code anything. The flow, the flexibility, and the democratization of data changed my career. 

You don’t need to be a programmer to effectively use Tableau, but having some fundamental knowledge of programming principles will help create more flexible, maintainable workbooks. I saw lots of posts this month that took me back to my coding days. 

The power of a simple IF statement by Saba Gebreyohannes

You won’t get far in programming without knowing about conditional statements, and the first to learn is an IF statement. Saba Gebreyohannes’ post, The power of a simple IF statement, is a smart starting point for some of the power this simple command can give you in Tableau, including tips and tricks you might not have considered before. (The Flerlage Twins also did a great post on the IF statement a few months ago, if you want more!)

Alexander Mou wrote a post on “global variables,” using Level of Detail calculations to demonstrate the concept. I like this way of framing the concept in a Tableau manner.

Tableau Naming Conventions: Our Best Advice for Calcs, Sheets & More by Kendra Allenspach 

Any programmer will know that building maintainable code is vital: it’s awful coming back to a piece of code after months away, and then realising you have no idea what any of it does. All you see is a jumble of meaningless variable names. Naming conventions are vital in software engineering; be mindful of this as your Tableau workbooks grow. Interworks Kendra Allenspach explains the challenge, and some solutions in her Tableau Naming Conventions: Our Best Advice for Calcs, Sheets & More post on the Interworks blog. 

Have the use of programming techniques helped grow your Tableau skills? Let us know!

With that, enjoy Best of the Tableau Web with tips, tricks, inspiration and more produced by the Tableau community. For updates throughout the month, follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and check out the list of blogs Mark Bradbourne and I follow for Best of the Tableau Web. If you don’t see yours on the list, we invite you to add it here.

Best of Tableau Web April 2021
Tips and Tricks

Ethan Lang, PlayfairData: How to Toggle Weekends On and Off a Calendar in Tableau
Joselito Bondoc, The Data School: DS23: Using padding to create white space and other things
Saba Gebreyohannes, Biztory blog: The power of a simple IF statement
Donna Coles, Donna + DataViz: Tableau Website Analytics
Andy Kriebel, VizWhizHow to Calculate a Z-Score
Kendra Allenspac, InterWorks: Tableau Naming Conventions: Our Best Advice for Calcs, Sheets & More
Anna Foard, The Stats NinjaTableau Reference Lines: When Averages Mean Something You Don’t
Autumn Battani, Make It Make Sense: Ten Tiny Tableau Tips

Formatting, Design, Storytelling

Judit Bekker, Datamuggle: Digging into tooltips with David Lynch
Neil Richards, Questions in Dataviz: How do you make the world add up?
Steve Wexler, Data Revelations: Try to Avoid Color Legends


Donna Coles, Donna + DataVizWhat percentage of sub-orders are profitable?
Spencer Baucke, Tessellation: How to Create YTD Calculations in Tableau
Donabel Santos: Tableau Calculations? Follow this playlist
Ken Flerlage, The Flerlage Twins:  Date Calculation Cheat Sheet


Chris DeMartini, DataBlick: A Tableau Accessibility Journey - Part III - Color Contrast and Font Size
Marian Eerens, My Dataviz Journey: How I became a Tableau Desktop Certified Associate (and you can too)
Lindsay Betzendahl, Viz Zen Data: COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard Collaboration
Brandi Beals: You Don't Need Permission
Lindsay Betzendahl, Viz Zen Data: Preparing for the Tableau Certified Associate Consultant Exam (a Tableau Partner requirement)
Adam Mico: An Interview with Bridget Cogley (A 5-Time Tableau Zen Master and Data Ethicist)
Adam Mico: An Interview with Kasia Gasiewska-Holc (Multi-VOTD Winner and Senior Marketing Analyst)
Mark Bradbourne, Sons of Hierarchies: Real World Fake Data – Retail Recap

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