1 2 3 Previous Next 32 Replies Latest reply on Aug 27, 2014 7:15 AM by Sean Mullane

    Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!

    Shawn Wallwork

      Filled maps are great. But with Tableau's native background map, it is very difficult to see through the fill to anything in the base layer. And if you crank up the transparency then much of the color encoding of the measure is lost, washed out. Most of you know this has been very high on my personal feature request list. Well Jake Baillie & Ian White at Urban Mapping have come through big time! Here are the results:




      You can now easily see the roads, even the side streets, through the fill colors. And in the above screen shot the map 'Washout' level is set to 30% and the filled zips are at 80%! Here's what it looks like with 0% Washout:


      A little too strong for my taste, but the point is you now have a full range of contrast choices so you can dial in the appropriate level for your situation. Clients will be better able to figure out where their stores are on the map. And being able to see the block level detail helps imply a scale, especially if you're familiar with the area.


      So how did we do this? Well, with Jake's help I hacked the TMS, which is the file that ships with Tableau and sends commands back to Urban Mapping telling them what to display. I should say I hacked a copy of the TMS file. There's no need to mess with the original. The hacked file is attached. All you have to do is download it into your version of this directory:


      D:\Shawn\My Tableau Repository\Mapsources


      Once it's there, download and open the package workbook I've also attached. Check out the three different 'Filled Map' options I've given you. And definitely play around with the Washout slider.


      As long as you keep this TMS file in your Mapsources directory, then these filled background maps will be available to any viz you build.





      Unfortunately, there is a catch. (I know there's always a catch.) Currently Tableau doesn't pick up this file when it packages workbooks. So if you send it to a client without the TMS file and instructions I just gave you, the workbook will give an error (big red Xs), not pretty.


      [Section Deleted]


      After thinking this over I think Richard's idea about picking up the Mapsources folder in the packaged workbook, and then looking at it when Tableau loads, is the best way to go. I posted this idea here. Please consider voting for it.


      To everyone else, I hope you like this, and find it useful. Let me know if you have any troubles making it work. Finally, a big shout-out to my good friend and mentor Zen Master Richard Leeke! (Not much of a hack Richard, but a hack all the same; something your tutelage has encouraged me to do. Thanks for all you've given me.)




      PS: OK, I did change some of the default settings at the bottom of the page, but that's just personal preference. Feel free to change them back.

        • 1. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
          Jake Baillie

          Thanks for the great write up, Shawn. One thing to add - if you want to use a modified TMS file on a map published to a Tableau Server instance, you'll need to put that TMS file on the server in the appropriate Mapsources directory.


          I'll get invert (and some of the other render filters) added to the HackYourMap FAQ shortly.

          • 2. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
            Richard Leeke

            Very cool, Shawn and Jake.


            Your suggestion of packaging the TMS file when you save a packaged workbook makes perfect sense Shawn - and (for once) it looks to me as if it ought to be a really simple and safe change. Just include the mapsources directory from the respository when creating a packaged workbook and add look for it in the unzipped temporary copy of the workbook when opening it. That is exactly analogous to the way that custom geocoding is handled.


            I had a quick play to see if I could hack the TMS file into the packaged workbook for you, Shawn - and whilst that is easy and it gets unzipped into a sensible place when the workbook is opened, unfortunately Tableau isn't looking for it there when it opens the workbook.


            I reckon that one would be as close as you could ever get to the mythical 5 minute change, though. Maybe allow another 10 minutes for the testing...

            • 3. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
              Shawn Wallwork

              Ha! I'll take either time frame. Thanks for taking a look.



              • 4. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                Vusi Nkomo

                Thanks a lot for this Shawn....looks really great....and Richard...can we settle on 7.5 minutes please!!!

                • 5. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                  Allan Walker

                  Nice work Jake and Shawn.  Let's hope for native raster (GEOTIFF) and vector file import (by baking Richard's tool in), + dynamic re-projections, and custom TML file packaging!


                  This tweak/hack has serious implications for me, as I'm struggling with shapefile hierarchies/layering/grouping.  The current joins (for roads on top of my building shapes) are getting excessive.  So this could help performance quite a bit.


                  Now...the question I'm going to ask.  Is there anyway to tweak the TML file in such a way that freeways are separated from say, 2 lane roads?  Or is it one colour for all?  I can see thickness in the lines...


                  E.g. the UK has "blue" for motorways, "red" for 'A' roads...



                  • 6. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                    Shawn Wallwork

                    Allan, glad this will help. Your question is a good one for Jake. But I can tell you that the highways are a separate layer from the highway signs. Jake gave me the code necessary for pulling these apart. I was able to remove the signs completely, or treat them differently from the highways. I never was able to change the color of either of these elements, but I suspect there must be a way. Whether the highways and streets are different layers, I'm not sure. That would be fun to play around with if they were.


                    Right now I'm in the middle of posting a write-up of everything I learned about hacking this TMS file. I'll post it soon. Meantime follow that link Jake posted for Hackyourmap. There's some interesting stuff there. I'll ping you when I post the write-up.



                    • 7. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                      Shawn Wallwork

                      Allan the 'how-to' is posted: http://community.tableau.com/message/191245#191245 Let me know if you come up with anything interesting.



                      • 8. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                        Joan Dalpe

                        Hi Shawn,


                        This a very good post, however I followed the instructions and can only see the Filled Map BD option in your file and not my own. So I'm wondering since I'm using 8.0 and your post was from last year, maybe things have changed. I don't see the three fill options in your file either. There's probably an obvious answer but I'm a Tableau newbie still.



                        • 9. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                          Shawn Wallwork

                          Joan, after you create the file you need to put it in the proper Tableau directory. Here are the instructions for doing that in the comment section. And after you get it in the right directory, you'll need to close Tableau and reopen it. FYI: It works just fine in 8.0 I use it all the time. The only downside is that all your clients will also need to put that file in their Reader mapsource directories; unless you're on Server and then it just goes in the Server mapsource directory.





                          • 10. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                            Joan Dalpe

                            Hi Shawn -


                            Thanks for the follow up. I double checked all my steps. The first time, I hadn't actually closed Tableau like instructed above but then I went back and did everything in correct sequence.

                            • Closed Tableau: Check
                            • My Tableau Repository/mapsources/Filled Map BG.tms: Check
                            • Reopened Tableau and workbooks: Check
                            • Background Maps drop down looking for new "Filled Map BG": Boo, it isn't there.


                            I'm sure I did something wrong. Though I did good at following those instructions.

                            • 11. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                              Shawn Wallwork

                              Joan, if you're absolutely certain you have it in the correct mapsource directory, then try closing everything down and rebooting. It really is as simple as getting it in the correct directory. There are two potentially three directories it could go in:


                              D:\Shawn\My Tableau Repository

                              C:\Program Files (x86)\Tableau\Tableau 8.0\Mapsources

                              C:\Program Files (x86)\Tableau\Tableau Reader 8.0\Mapsources


                              If you put it in all three there shouldn't be any chance it won't work.


                              Good luck,



                              • 12. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                                Shawn Wallwork

                                Joan, did you ever get this working?



                                • 13. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                                  Joan Dalpe

                                  Hi Shawn, thanks for following up with me on this…


                                  – No, I actually copied the file into the first two locations you mentioned in your last email. I never installed Tableau Reader so I didn’t put a copy there. That wouldn’t have anything to do with it, would it?

                                  • 14. Re: Now See Roads Through Filled Maps!
                                    Shawn Wallwork

                                    No you don't need Reader. Have you tried downloading the file I created and attached to that TabWiki doc I linked to? I just deleted Filled Maps BG.tms from all my directories. Close all Tableau workbooks. Confirmed that there wasn't a Filled Maps BG option showing up on the drop down. Then down loaded the TabWiki version of the tms file and put it in the correct directory. Everything works fine. I was able to create a map with very dark roads.


                                    If you're still up for it, and haven't done that process yet give it a try. It really should work.



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