Here is the 14th installment of Tableau tips where I explore Dashboard design, the new grid options in Tableau and various other Tableau tips to help you when designing your dashboards.
#10 - Show Grid
If you have attended on of the Big Book of Dashboards workshops, presentations, or webinars then you've heard the authors, myself included, talk about the importance of grid design. This has been a feature that I have personally been waiting for, for a very long time, and it's finally here. Tableau added this new grid option for dashboard layout. Select "Dashboard" from the menu bar and select "Show Grid". It's that simple. If you are on the dashboard canvas then you can use the keyboard shortcut and simply press G on your keyboard to toggle the gridlines on and off.
#9 - Setting the Pixels to Adjust Grid Size
This is very handy option. Select "Dashboard" from the menu bar and select "Grid Options". I prefer to set it in increments of 10, which I'll discuss more in the tips below.
#8 - Use the SHIFT key to drag object on canvas as floating objects
When dropping a new worksheet onto the dashboard canvas, you can hold the Shift key down while dragging the object onto the canvas and Tableau will change the Tiled/Floating setting. If you have it set to Floating and hold down the SHIFT key then it will place as Tiled. If you have Tiled set and hold down the SHIFT key then it will place the object as Floating.
#7 - Use T on the keyboard to switch views from Dashboard to Layout tabs
There are two tabs on the left pane when working with a Dashboard, the Dashboard pane and the Layout pane. Press T on the keyboard and Tableau will alternate between these two panes.
#6 - Use Arrow Keys to Move Objects 1 pixel at a time
After a floating object is placed on the dashboard canvas, or when selecting any floating object on a dashboard canvas, use the arrow keys to move the floating object 1 pixel at a time.
#5 - Use SHIFT and Arrow Keys to Move Objects 10 pixels at a time
After a floating object is placed on the dashboard canvas, or when selecting any floating object on a dashboard canvas, use the SHIFT and arrow keys to move the floating object 10 pixels at a time. If you set your grid size in increments of 10 then this is a great way to move objects and have them snug along the grid lines. It's not a true "snap to grid" feature, but it's the next best thing. You can also use two arrow keys at the same time with SHIFT to move an object diagonally.
#4 - Use ALT and Arrow Keys to Size Objects 1 pixel at a time
After a floating object is placed on the dashboard canvas, or when selecting any floating object on a dashboard canvas, use the ALT and arrow keys to size the floating object 1 pixel at a time.
#3 - Use ALT-SHIFT and Arrow Keys to size Objects 10 pixels at a time
After a floating object is placed on the dashboard canvas, or when selecting any floating object on a dashboard canvas, use the ALT and arrow keys to size the floating object 10 pixels at a time. Again, if you set your grid size in increments of 10 then this is an easy way to size objects snug along the grid lines, and just like the moving floating objects diagonally, you can also use two arrow keys at the same time with ALT to Size an object diagonally.
#2 - Double-Click sheets to create quick dashboard layouts
When you have the dashboard canvas set to Tiled, you can quickly build a 4 quadrant layout by double-clicking worksheets. Even if you are one of those designers that prefers to float everything on the dashboard canvas, this can still be a very handy way to prepare objects before floating them, which I will demonstrate below. When double clicking four worksheets, the first double-click will end up as the top left quadrant, the second double-click will be the top right quadrant, the third will be the bottom left quadrant and the fourth will be the bottom right.
#1 - Double-Click on the Top Tab of an Object on a Dashboard Canvas to Select the Container
This is a simple little tip. When an object is selected, double-click on the tab at the top of the object and Tableau will select the container that holds the object.
Putting It All Together
I will demonstrate how to combine many of these tips together to layout a Web Analytics dashboard in one minute. Here's a general outline of what I will demonstrate.
1. Double-click four worksheets to create a four-quadrant dashboard. Note - these objects will be Tiled to start, but will be Floating objects when it's finished.
2. Add a blank object to the bottom of the dashboard.
3. Remove the Size legend.
4. Double-click the top tab of the object to select the container.
5. Use the SHIFT key to place the container on the canvas as a floating object.
Note - when you do this, you can now size the container in various sizes and you will get four equal worksheets within the container.
6. Format the container to place the worksheets where you want them (in a floating container of Tiled objects).
7. Use the SHIFT + Arrow keys to adjust the placement of the container.
8. Add a dashboard title (floating or tiled).
9. Format dashboard shading as desired.
10. Select the layout container and remove container. Now the four worksheets will all be floating.
11. Use the SHIFT + Arrow keys to adjust the placement of each worksheet. I chose to add some additional white space. Note - because we started with the four tiled inside the container, they are now the same size and perfectly aligned. This allows them to be moved and keep aligned with the SHIFT + Arrow key.
12. Turn off "Show Grid" and enjoy the finished dashboard.