Update: Tableau 10 is here! Download now to try out the feature outlined below.
Bar charts are a staple in data visualization. They are often the first chart type that comes to mind when comparing quantities across discrete groups such as sales amount for different product categories.
But there are many cases where you may want to take advantage of the width of the bars and their location along the axis to present more information. For example, if you’re visualizing the number of customers by age group and the age groups are of unequal sizes, you may want to use bars of different width.
Tableau 10 gives you precise control over the width of the bars, enabling many new scenarios and even new chart types.
When you have a bar chart with continuous fields on Rows and Columns shelves, you will see a new option appear in the size menu.
By using the fixed option, you can either type in the exact value for the bar width, or you can place a field on the Size shelf to size each bar differently.
In automatic mode, Tableau will apply smart defaults when possible. For example, histograms will have bars matching bin size. And time periods will be sized according to their granularity and length. This way, bars will be flush against each other and won’t overlap on resize. If you look closely, you may even notice that in your time-series chart, the bar for February is a little bit narrower than other months.
If you like to stretch your Tableau muscles, you can even build new chart types like Marimekko charts, cascade charts, or stepped areas by taking advantage of this new functionality.
Curious about these chart types? Take a look at the sample workbooks below!