Dear-Data-Two Puzzle Viz in Tableau

Andy Kriebel and I are now in week 37 of our Dear-Data-Two project. Back in week 23 of the project, the topic was "Being Nice". I had some difficulty figuring out the data for that week. I was really puzzled by the topic, what data I was going to use and how to visualize it. So I asked my twin girls what they thought it meant to be nice and they each rattled off a wonderful list of characteristics that they thought made up "being nice". For me, these were the pieces of the puzzle and that is what I decided to visualize. I created a puzzle postcard that showed these these pieces put together. I made the postcard in a way that Andy could cut it up and actually play with the puzzle, but he decided to preserve my postcard for the project, so it's still in one piece.

Throughout the project I have tried to recreate many of the postcards in Tableau and so I decided to go back and do this one. I created rows and columns for each square, grouped them with an object ID and colored them and then placed them on the Tableau canvas with a simple X/Y coordinate.

Here's the postcard:

Here's the Tableau version of the postcard:

The viz was easy enough to build, but what was missing was the idea of the game, giving the user the ability to play the puzzle in Tableau. So I decided to build this as an interactive puzzle. There are 12 puzzle pieces and each piece can be moved down/up and left/right. To do this, I used 24 parameters for the different controls. Then I applied formulas based on the parameter to offset the puzzle pieces. This worked well, but the solution was easy, just center all of the parameters on the slider and the puzzle would be solved. The next step was to make an independent range for each parameter so that each piece could move the entire span of the canvas. Having 24 parameters is not ideal, but I color coded them and added directional icons to help navigate. I also added a parameter to turn label numbers on and off.

I added some notes and images to help show the goal of the puzzle, but I really wanted to outline the area where the puzzle pieces go. To do this, I used reference bands that overlap around the center, so that it frames the open area where the puzzle pieces are placed. This makes it clear what the goal is for the puzzle pieces. Finally, I added a calculation to check each parameter that is used to flag when the puzzle is solved and I use a floating text box as an alert when the puzzle is solved.

This viz isn't all that practical and there are certainly better ways to do this outside of Tableau, but it was really fun to build. Give it a try without looking at the picture above for the solution. Special thanks to Andy Kriebel and Steve Wexler for test driving the viz for me and finding some bugs that I needed to fix.

Click the image below to open then viz:

If you have any questions feel free to email me at Jeff@DataPlusScience.com

Jeffrey A. Shaffer
Follow on Twitter @HighVizAbility