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My Top 5 Quick Tips for Speeding Up Development in Tableau Desktop

What are some ways that a Tableau developer can hop into the next echelon of skill? I’ve compiled five of my favorite quick tips to speed up your workflow.

Making the leap from beginner to intermediate, and intermediate to expert in any skill requires attention to small details. This includes paying attention to nuances in the way the skill is conducted. Tableau development is no different. What are some ways that a Tableau developer can hop into the next echelon of skill? I’ve compiled five of my favorite quick tips to speed up your workflow and take development to the next level.

1. Using a template workbook for common formulas, dashboard layouts, etc.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), you’ll be doing a lot of the same type of stuff while building different workbooks in Tableau. Certain things are done in many dashboards, things like:

  • Certain calculations
    • Year-Over-Year
    • Year-To-Date
    • Month-To-Date
    • Percent difference
    • INDEX( )
  • Certain views
    • BAN (Big Ass Numbers)
    • Highlight tables
    • Customized maps
  • Dashboard layouts

There are a couple methods you can use with template workbooks to be more efficient. First, you can swap out the data source and replace fields with your desired data source fields in order to use the template workbook exactly as it is. Secondly, you can copy and past specific calculated fields, parameters, sheets, dashboards, and more from the template workbook into the target workbook.

This methodology really comes in handy when building more complex visualizations. Things like radial bar charts, Sankey diagrams, waterfall charts, etc. These can be time-consuming builds that aren’t frequently created, meaning it’s difficult to get efficient at building them.

2. Using the control key (or command key for Mac) to duplicate things and select multiple objects instead of the context menu

Did you know Tableau let’s you duplicate and select pretty much anything using the control/command key?

  • Press and hold it while clicking and dragging a pill in order to duplicate it.
  • Press and hold it while clicking and dragging a pill onto one of the marks cards (color, size, etc.) in order to duplicate it as a different mark attribute.
  • Press and hold it while clicking and dragging a worksheet to duplicate it.
  • Press and hold it while clicking and dragging a dimension in the data pane to the measure area in order to create a count of that dimension field.
  • Hold control/command while clicking on worksheets, fields, or pills to make bulk actions

3. Utilize context menus instead of the menu bar

You might be tempted to create and edit calculated fields, format specific fields or elements, and do other things using the menu bar. It’s more efficient though to use context menus in their localized areas.

For example, right click on a field in the data pane and then click “Calculated Field in the “Create” menu in order to have the context field inputted into the calculated field formula window. A parameter would be similar in function. Basically a contextually created parameter would be automatically configured with that field’s relevant values as the list of values for the parameter.

4. Drag and drop things instead of using context menus

This tip is usually targeted at beginners. To remove pills from the view, there is no need to right-click each pill and then click remove. Instead just click and drag the pill out of the view to remove it. Use control/command to select multiple elements (or shift to select multiple sequential elements) and drag them off the view to remove them.

On a similar note, you can drag and drop fields onto specific parts of the view (columns, rows, marks, filters, pages, etc.) in order to get the desired visualization. Double clicking a field to add it to the view and then moving the field around can be much less efficient.

5. Copy and Paste Formatting

Make a change to one of your bar chart views? Need those changes in all of your other bar chart views in the workbook? Don’t event think about repeating the formatting manually!

Tableau offers a great functionality to copy and paste formatting, just like in Excel. Simply right click the target worksheets.


That’s it, thanks for reading!

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