Creating Darker Roads for Filled Maps

Version 5


    The look of Tableau maps were set before the introduction of filled maps. They were designed to give context to the data layer without overpowering the data. This works well for displaying data with a shape and using size and color to encode the data. However with the introduction of filled maps the data layer can completely overpower the background map, obscuring the roads and context. This can be disorienting for users. This problem can be solved by editing the TMS file.


    This is a map using the current Online Map with Washout set to 0% (meaning it is as dark as possible with the highest contrast possible):

    Filled Map 1.png

    This is a map using the edited TMS file (attached below). Washout is also set at 0%:

    Filled Map 2.png

    While this is probably a bit too "strong", we can then set the Washout to 50%, which produces this map:

    Filled Map 3.png

    The filled colors are strong, yet the roads are not obscured. In all three maps the color opacity was set to 80%.


    Here is what you need to do to use the attached file:

    1. Close all open Tableau workbooks
    2. Download the file and put it in your Mapsources folder (e.g. D:\Shawn\My Tableau Repository\Mapsources)
    3. If you use Reader as your means of distribution, then send them the file and have them put it in their Reader Mapsources folder (e.g. C:\Program Files (x86)\Tableau\Tableau Reader 8.0\Mapsources) This will probably require them to have admin permissions.
    4. If you use Server, put it in the Server's Mapsource directory
    5. If you use Online (Cloud) you're out of luck, this won't work.
    6. Open a Tableau workbook. Go to Map\Background Maps and confirm that the Filled Maps BG is available:

    Filled Map BG.png

    A Few Things To Know.

    • Changes don't take effect until you close and reopen the workbooks.
    • If you get red X's it probably means Tableau couldn't find your TMS file
    • Your TMS file has to be in your version of this directory: D:\Shawn\My Tableau Repository\Mapsources


    Final note: The background map and the washout setting you choose can NOT be changed in Reader, so choose these carefully.