A dashboard is a consolidated display of many worksheets and related information in a single place. It is used to compare and monitor a variety of data simultaneously. The different data views are displayed all at once. Dashboards are shown as tabs at the bottom of the workbook and they usually get updated with the most recent data from the data source. While creating a dashboard, you can add views from any worksheet in the workbook along with many supporting objects such as text areas, web pages, and images.
Each view you add to the dashboard is connected to its corresponding worksheet. So when you modify the worksheet, the dashboard is updated and when you modify the view in the dashboard, the worksheet is updated.
Individual worksheets in Tableau can lead to powerful insights that help your business, but many times, it makes sense to combine the worksheets into a single dashboard. By combining varying visualizations into a dashboard, you and your audience are able to analyze different aspects of the data in the context of each other. This is a much more intuitive experience than viewing the visualizations individually.
In addition to this one obvious benefit, Tableau comes with several technical features that allow you to control the user experience and even the ability to have the individual components of the dashboard interact with each other. This post offers an introduction to dashboards in Tableau and several ways to distribute the dashboard after it has been created.
An Introduction to Dashboards in Tableau
For this introduction, we will recreate this dashboard in Tableau:
To create a new dashboard in Tableau, either click “Dashboard” in the top navigation and then “New Dashboard” or click the New Dashboard icon at the bottom of any worksheet. The New Dashboard icon is the second icon immediately following the existing worksheets in the workbook.
Here’s a quick overview of all the different dashboard options in the left navigation:
Dashboard and Layout tabs
By default, you will be working on the dashboard tab which allows you to set most aspects of the dashboard. The layout tab allows you to set the dimensions and location of individual dashboard components. All sizes on the Layout tab are in pixels.
Device Preview Button
The Device Preview button allows you see what the dashboard will look like on different devices and you can even save different versions of the dashboard so that it looks different depending on what device it is displayed on. For more, see Designing Device-Specific Dashboards in Tableau 10.
This is where you can set the height and width of the dashboard in pixels. There are several preset size options or you can set an exact size of your choosing. If you choose the Automatic option, the dashboard will change to fill all available space on the screen it is being displayed on and resize the individual components of the dashboard accordingly. While this option sounds good on the surface, beware that it is not truly “responsive”, and the display can be somewhat unpredictable.
These are the individual worksheets in your workbook that can be added to the dashboard. Note that to create the example pictured above, there are three sheets in the workbook: Map, Trends, and Bar Chart. It helps to give the worksheets good names so you can easily find them, but you can also get a thumbnail preview of the worksheet by hovering over the name in the left navigation.
Creating a Dashboard
Using the Sample-superstore, plan to create a dashboard showing the sales and profits for different segments and Sub-Category of products across all the states. To achieve this objective, the following are the steps.
Step 1 − Create a blank worksheet by using the add worksheet icon located at the bottom of the workbook. Drag the dimension Segment to the columns shelf and the dimension Sub-Category to the Rows Shelf. Drag and drop the measure Sales to the Color shelf and the measure Profit to the Size shelf. This worksheet is referred to as the Master worksheet. Right-click and rename this worksheet as Sales_Profits. The following chart appears.
Distributing Tableau Dashboards
After you’ve created a dashboard in Tableau, there are several ways the dashboard can be distributed.
If you have created a dashboard using Tableau Desktop, you can package the workbook for offline distribution. To package a workbook, navigate to File in the top navigation and click “Export Packaged Workbook…”. This will package the data with the instructions for how to visualize the data. Anybody with Tableau Desktop or Tableau Reader can open the file and interact with the visualizations you have created. Note that packaged workbooks do not automatically update to the data within the workbook will only be as recent as the last update.
Any dashboard built in Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public can be published to the web for public consumption. This is not a realistic approach for sensitive business data, but if you are able to make your data public, this is the perfect solution for distributing your dashboard to the widest audience possible. To publish a dashboard from Tableau Desktop to Tableau Public, navigate to “Server”, hover over “Tableau Public”, and choose “Save to Tableau Public As…”.
You can also distribute your workbooks privately in the cloud by using Tableau Server. Tableau Server requires incremental licenses for you and your end users but is the most scalable Tableau solution for distributing your business-related workbooks. Publishing to Tableau Server is very similar to publishing to Tableau Public, but you will be presented with several additional options including where to publish the workbook within Tableau Server, who has permission to view and interact with the workbook, and if / when you want the data in the workbook to update. To publish a workbook to Tableau Server, navigate to “Server” in the top navigation, and choose “Publish Workbook…”.