Replacing Tableau’s Standard Maps

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Why Replace Tableau’s Standard Maps?

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.

Tableau’s dynamic map files are designed to balance high quality graphic details while optimizing map rendering speed. But if standard maps don’t provide the detail you require, Tableau makes it easy to replace the standard maps with custom maps provided by map services. With a little more effort, you can even use standard image files for map backgrounds.

Using custom maps or building visualizations with custom image backgrounds can enhance understanding and yield new information that wouldn’t be visible on a standard map. There could be many reasons you might want to replace Tableau’s standard map files. Custom maps can include non-standard geographic units or demographics particular to your organization. Perhaps you have spatial data that isn’t large enough to be seen on a standard map. Examples might include warehouse or office layouts, retail planograms, building complexes, circuit board schematics, web pages, or even the human body. Or, the scale of your spatial data might be microscopic.       

As long as you can define the vertical (y) and horizontal (x) coordinates within the spatial layout, it is possible to place data points on image files precisely. This process can be trivial— requiring only a few clicks— or require significant effort.

Replacing Tableau’s Standard Maps to Enhance Information

The easiest way to replace Tableau’s standard maps is with a web map service. Tableau can seamlessly integrate maps that adhere to an open source map protocol developed by the Open Geospatial Consortium. Many web mapping services adhere to the Web Mapping Service (WMS) protocol. Replacing Tableau’s standard maps with WMS services is very much easier because the service provides the coordinate dimensions of the map, thereby eliminating the need for you to define the map coordinates. Tableau saves these map imports as Tableau Map Source (tms) files.


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