Underutilized Tableau Features Part 2: Comments

Many applications these days have the ability to add comments to a document or object. Think Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, Trello, Jira, and Lucidchart, just to name a few. This capability allows multiple people to collaborate and make improvements to the document, with back and forth comments about its contents. Well, Tableau Server and Tableau Cloud have a similar capability and it is not used nearly enough! Comments are part 2 of my series focused on underutilized Tableau features. Check out part 1, which is all about descriptions.

Comments should be enabled by default, but your site or server administrator might have turned them off. It is also possible that commenting has been denied as part of the permissioning scheme. Check with your administrators if you do not have the commenting capability available to you.

Now, on to the good stuff.

The comment pane is quite simple to use, but it is also somewhat hidden unless you look for it. When viewing a dashboard in Tableau Server or Tableau Cloud, there are two ribbons at the top of the screen. The first band contains breadcrumbs, search, notifications, and your profile icon. The second band contains all sorts of fun tools that you can apply to the dashboard you are currently viewing. It is in this band that you will find the comment button. It may look slightly different from the screenshot below depending on the version you are using.

Clicking that button opens the comment pane where you can make any comment you wish. Clicking the Post button, publishes the comment for all who have access to the view to see.

While this is a helpful comment, no one will know it exists unless they are looking for it. Which is why I like to @mention someone in the comment. Doing so triggers an email to be sent to the person you mentioned, which is much more helpful.

There is one final component of the comment feature that I absolutely love. It is the ability to add a snapshot to your comment. This bit of magic makes it easier to investigate data integrity issues if there are questions about the data being displayed. Often times people have questions about the data while they are using it, which means the data could be filtered or displayed at a different level of granularity. This can lead to a lot of confusion about what data is being questioned. Adding a snapshot helps determine where the issue is occurring and makes up for vague comments. To add a snapshot, simply click the icon in the lower left corner of the comment pane.

I hope this is one feature you start to use more often!