Animating maps using the pages shelf or slider filters in Tableau

Animating maps using the pages shelf or slider filters

People are accustomed to using maps to find places, predict the weather, and see information regarding world events. Seeing your data displayed on a map can provide new insight. Tableau provides three standard map formats. If you don’t like the standard maps you can replace them with customized maps provided by web mapping services. Or, if you have spatial data that is too small to fit on a map, you can replace maps with images.

On the other hand, the Pages shelf lets you break a view into a series of pages so you can better analyze how a specific field affects the rest of the data in a view. When you place a dimension on the Pages shelf you are adding a new row for each member in the dimension. When you place a measure on the Pages shelf, Tableau automatically converts the measure into a discrete measure.

The most convenient way to animate views is to utilize a date/time dimension on the filter shelf (or the pages shelf) to increment time forward and backward. Creating a quick filter using a continuous dimension presents the user with a slider-type filter that will work well for animating the view. The pages shelf goes beyond quick filters by enabling an auto-incrementing filter. The pages shelf works well in tableau desktop and reader; however, it is not supported in tableau server.

The  example in figure 5.25  doesn’t include a date/time dimension, but there is a single key record for each point ID. The example map can be animated by placing the point ID field on the filter shelf. Figure 5.27  shows the point ID added to the desktop as a continuous slide filter.

The route line now ends at a point eight as specified in the quick filter. Dragging the slider to the left or right animates the route map manually. Notice that the point ID pill on the filter shelf is green. This color indicates that the point ID was changed to a continuous dimension. The point ID field was initially a discrete dimension. Using a discrete dimension for the quick filter would not facilitate animating the view. The filter was changed from discrete to continuous by right-clicking  on the point ID pill on the filter shelf and selecting continuous.


Figure 5.27: Animating a map

Tableau’s standard maps and automatic geocoding should meet your needs most of the time. Through the use of custom geocoding and custom maps you’ll be able to create even more detailed geographic analysis. And, by using custom map backgrounds from web services or image files, you can fully customize the detail and appearance of map backgrounds.

In the next post, you’ll learn how to use parameter controls to facilitate ad hoc analysis for information for consumers viewing your visualizations through tableau reader, tableau server, or even in  visualizations embedded on websites.

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