Kim's Cookies

Do you ever get an email with a few rows with some numbers beside them and you think for a brief second, why didn't they just make that into a chart? This happened to me recently and without hesitation I quickly copied the 14 rows and dropped it into Excel, connected Tableau to it, and off I went.

Kim, a woman at my office, makes a ridiculous amount of cookies each year around the holidays. It started as a simple bar chart with some gingerbread men sitting atop each bar, representing the number of cookies made over the years. Kim appreciated my chart, shared it with her mother who helps in the baking, and offered me cookies in return for my efforts.

When I stopped by her desk to retrieve my prize, she showed me a document she uses to track the types of cookies they make. Her document is used to track potential recipe improvements, but I saw the potential and asked her to send me the document along with the pictures of each cookie she mentioned she had.

Here is the result of her efforts and a few minutes of my time.

MKE Tableau User Group: New Leaders & Upcoming Meeting

Last year Sarah Nell started the Milwaukee Tableau User Goup. I attended most of the quarterly meetings during the year and cultivated a relationship with her. She has recently accepted a new position with Tableau (!!!) and because of that, is no longer able to lead the TUG. I was honored to be approached and asked to co-lead the TUG!

My co-lead and I have put together our first TUG meeting and I'm so excited to tell you about it! Our thought was that since this was our first meeting as leaders, we would keep the agenda high-level. The location and time hasn't changed since the last meeting because... if it isn't broke, don't fix it.

Date & Time:
Thursday, March 26, 2015
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (CDT)

270 East Kilbourn Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 • Welcome and Introductions
 • New TUG Leaders: Patrick & Brandi
 • Why We’re Here: Purpose & Goals of the TUG
 • Tableau 9.0 Presentation by Kass Kettner
 • Break and Networking
 • Customer Presentation by Robby Burmeister of Dorner Manufacturing
 • Tableau Doctor: What Are You Stuck On?

You can register for the event using the link above or the MKE TUG Events section on the right side of my site. I hope to see you there!

Also, if you are located in Milwaukee and are interested in being a member of the TUG, you can join our LinkedIn group.

Some other upcoming Tableau events are:
 • 9.0 Virtual Tableau User Group on March 11th
 • Turning Numbers into Knowledge: Tableau Customer Showcase - Milwaukee on March 17th
 • Tableau 9.0 Roadshow (many locations)

Custom Color Palettes in Tableau

Recently I began a new job and I find that one of the first things I do when working with a new version of Tableau (be it at a new company or simply a new beta version) is set up the Preferences.tps file. After finding branding documents, I threw the RGB numbers into a converter to give me the HEX colors. is the site I used. These HEX color codes are then used to create my initial color palette.

For Windows users, your Prefereces.tps file is located in your C:\Users\<username>\Documents\My Tableau Repository folder. Right click on this file and open using Notepad. The file initially contains only a few lines of code. That’s all about to change…

Between the workbook tags, you will want to type <preferences></preferences>. Within these preferences tags we will create our initial color palette. I used returns and tabs to make the code easier to read.

To create a regular color palette, type <color-palette name="Name1" type="regular"></color-palette>. You can change the palette name to be something relevant to you. Within these tags we will need to define each color of the color palette. Each color is defined within the following tag:<color>#000000</color> where #000000 is the HEX color. You can define as many colors as you want in your palette. I defined ten colors. I also added comments (seen after the closing color tag) to more easily identify each color.

The order in which you define your colors will be the order in which they appear in Tableau. Each color in your regular color palette should be fairly different from the other colors. Use these colors to represent distinct values, such as Subregion, as shown in the example below.

Next we can create a few sequential color palettes. These are used in a gradient. To create a sequential color palette, type <color-palette name="Name1" type="ordered-sequential"></color-palette>. You can change the palette name to be something relevant to you. Within these tags we will need to define each color of the color palette. Each color is defined using the <color>#000000</color> tag.

I like to define ten colors in these palettes and I begin by determining what I want my main or darkest color to be. In this case, Green is the main color, so I’m going to use that as my starting point. I found this website to be extremely helpful in generating the HEX colors for each step in my gradient: I put in my starting green HEX code and I think going to Light Gray would look nice. I want 10 steps and then click the Make gradient button.

You can see the RGB Gradient colors going from green to gray and the corresponding HEX codes. Type these codes between color tags and your file should look something like this:

I created two more sequential color palettes: Blue to Light Gray and Burgundy to Tan. These palettes are great when visualizing a single measure across different dimension values.

The last color palette you can create is a diverging color palette, which are the palettes that have two colors on each end and usually white or gray in the middle. To create a diverging color palette, type <color-palette name="Name1" type="ordered-diverging"></color-palette>. You can change the palette name to be something relevant to you. Within these tags we will need to define each color of the color palette. Each color is defined using the <color>#000000</color> tag. For diverging color palettes, I just define three colors. The beginning, middle, and end. I like to give myself a few options, so I’m going to put together 3 different diverging color palettes, which you can see in the image below.

Here are a few of the color palettes in action. Having these color palettes installed in the preferences file of Tableau, makes formatting dashboards and views much easier, but my favorite thing is that each dashboard and viz I create is going to immediately look more polished and branded for the company.

Do you want or need help creating a custom color palette to be used in Tableau? Comment below or contact me.

I know there are other things you can specify within this preferences file, but it’s not well documented. Do you know of anything?

Tableau’s knowledge base has the same information, but it doesn’t really help you actually create company colors:

Help Needed: Multiple Curves in Pareto Chart

Sometimes you want to do something in Tableau that makes sense in your head and should be easy enough to accomplish. But then... it doesn't work. I've spent the last week on this issue. I've roped in my wife, a BI Developer. I've gone to sleep thinking about this problem and woke up thinking about it. Yes, I'm saying I've had nightmares about data. Here are the details of my dilemma:

I am very interested in using a Pareto chart to visualize some of my data. For the purposes of my question, I am going to use the Sample - Superstore dataset that comes with Tableau.

To begin, I created a Pareto chart showing the number of customers that contribute to profit:

But what I really want to do is compare multiple curves for Product Category, let's say. When I add Product Category to the color shelf, I get jagged curves. I believe this is due to the sorting of Customer Name. In the screenshot above, Customer Name is sorted by SUM(Profit) and it works great when there are no other dimensions. In the screenshot below, Customer Name is being sorted the same way, but it's not sorting Customer Name by SUM(Profit) for each Product Category. Customer Name is being sorted by SUM(Profit) across all Product Categories.

You can find a packaged workbook on Tableau's Forum:

Thank you for your help!