1 2 Previous Next 25 Replies Latest reply on Nov 6, 2013 6:55 AM by Matt Lutton Go to original post
      • 15. Re: Re: Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
        Matt Lutton

        I'd love to see some more documentation on how maps like this are built.  I feel pretty overwhelmed when it comes to mapping in Tableau and haven't found much success yet.

        • 16. Re: Re: Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
          James Grichnik

          Hi Matt,

          I felt the same way a few weeks ago. I will post a layman-level tutorial about how to create a map like this soon since currently all of the threads are in separate places.

          For now, the easiest way to show Highway labels at a high zoom is to follow Allan Walker's lead and paste http://geoint.nrlssc.navy.mil/nrltileserver/wms/ into Tableau's WMS Server Connections function. This can be found in Tableau 8.0 by going to:


          Map>Background Maps>WMS Servers>Add>Copy/Paste http://geoint.nrlssc.navy.mil/nrltileserver/wms/. Click Close.


          I have found selecting both OSM_Basemap and OSM_Basemap Overlay provides the clearest picture. There are still a few issues with showing waterways that I have not resolved yet.

          • 17. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
            Allan Walker



            I am happy to write up some methods on how to develop maps for Tableau users. I suspect that it would make a valuable entry to Shawn's tab-wiki.


            My initial thoughts are this though:


            Quite a lot of GIS knowledge is needed if you want to customize beyond Tableau's built in mapping functionality, and use different (styled/projected) base map layers.  It's also worth noting is what you actually want to analyse is really where Tableau comes in to play (I call this the foreground layer).


            So really, there are multiple components.  The basemap, then potentially a middle layer (say Zip Codes, or DMA's, or whatever) and then the foreground layer.  The trick I have up my sleeve is I don't need dual-axis because I use this middle layer, and concentrate on the foreground analysis, by using the WMS back door.


            There are some basic concepts that underpin a good map.  Things like datums, projections, layers, vector and raster operations, underlying data structures, formats, styles and then there are processes and methods to produce a solution, or tell a story.


            There is also a "Tufte-esque" design component - mapping should be beautiful, but also clear of chart junk.  Use of color and contrast play a part here, as does showing data - after all, digital maps are just that, data.  It's how you push it around that matters IMHO.


            Joe Mako was spot on when he said "Tableau Maps are basically scatterplots".  This is a very powerful statement. 


            I spend a lot of time converting ESRI SHP files to Points (Polygons and lines are just ordered points).  Richard Leeke opened the door with the work he did with polygons and filled maps (foreground analysis).


            Users should not have to do much else other than concentrate on the foreground layer, because that's where the analysis is.  However, if there is interest in how to create custom (multiple) background layers, "middle" layers and so forth, then I'd be glad to pitch in; but it does require some underlying GIS knowledge and I don't want to appear condescending.

            • 18. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
              Allan Walker



              Remember by using that WMS link that you are dependent on a third party, just like you are when you use Urban Mapping's mapfluence product that is built into Tableau.  You still have no control over the styling of the map.  Also, while the WMS is public; if it goes down, you lose the capability.  Also, you aren't in control of the datum it is sending unless you proxy serve the WMS through your own Geoserver. 


              Upshot - if you want total control, build your own, or go to contract with someone that will meet you and your user's requirements.


              Best Regards,



              • 19. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                Matt Lutton

                Thanks guys.


                I am more or less just confused, more than anything.  I have used the ShapeToTab tool, background maps, WMS, etc.  There are all these different methods people are using, and no real clean documentation on how/when to utilize which method.


                For instance, I can visualize school district boundaries -- however, getting relevant data to display on those filled polygons has proven difficult.


                I am going to meet with someone about potential mapping ideas on Thursday--if we get any concrete ideas going, I will post questions thereafter.  So far, I've really just been playing around with these different tools/methods and have found it difficult to get anything real meaningful going.


                I don't think I am alone.  In a perfect example, someone just posted a forum question:  http://community.tableau.com/thread/135198


                Notice that they mention WMS & TabGeoHack, but the OP is unclear on what process he should use.

                • 20. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                  Allan Walker

                  Hi Matthew:


                  For foreground analysis of polygon/polyline/point ESRI shapefiles:


                  Shapetotab is an unsupported "hack".  Essentially it converts ESRI (polygon) SHP files to a Tableau ready polygon mark type format (i.e. it introduces path order) and "splits" the DBF (feature file) and the points file.


                  Alteryx also have a script that converts ESRI (polygon) SHP files to Tableau TDE. 

                  You can also use ET Wizards in ESRI to do lots of ST_function manipulation, e.g. polygon to point, polyline to point.

                  I used ESRI to merge the 3 Tiger US School Districts SHP file - and have also been able to merge polygon, polyline, and point data (for example, CloudMade OSM data).  Of course, you could just append the 3 "shapetotab" output tables...

                  You can create SHP files using:

                  • ESRI
                  • MapWindow
                  • QGIS

                  and a plethora of others.

                  You can also use Tableau's built in custom geocoding and use the filled map mark type. I'm not going to comment about these, as I don't typically use them.

                  For background basemaps and middle (data) layers:

                  WMS is an OGC standard.  While it is an old standard, it is enabled (in part, not in whole) by Tableau.  WMS capability is also supported by ESRI and QGIS.

                  WMS servers include:

                  • Geoserver
                  • Mapserver
                  • QGIS server

                  Geoserver has the ability to ingest PostGres/PostGIS tables that have been populated with OpenStreetMap and ESRI SHP file data.  It can then layer these.  It can also reproject on the fly to whatever datum is required.  It can proxy serve (cascade) other OGC services such as WFS.  It can also ingest raster formats such as GeoTiff.


                  For Styling maps (SLD creation):


                  • AtlasStyler
                  • UDig
                  • QGIS

                  On top of the "out of the box" offering, Urban Mapping can provide tailored, but paywalled solution(s) as the official Tableau Mapping solution provider, using a REST API interface that is baked into Tableau.

                  Note that most of the tools (with the exception of ESRI) I have listed are "open source". 

                  The other point to make here is most data that folks on this forum seem to ask for/want to analyse is "free" or "unrestricted licence".  If you are a US Taxpayer, then you are already paying for USGS Tiger files (e.g. ZCTA, CBSA, School Districts etc) / The National Atlas /FCC / FAA / NOAA /NASA.

                  All I can say here is: there is more coming.  Join Tableau Mapping LinkedIn Group and voice your requirements.  Use and contribute to the Tableau Mapping repository.   

                  Best Regards,


                  • 21. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                    Matt Lutton

                    I appreciate your effort, Allan. Thanks

                    • 22. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                      Allan Walker



                      You are very welcome,


                      Best Regards,



                      • 23. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                        Matt Lutton

                        Sorry, couldn't resist--the confusion just comes up all the time now!



                        My point is that Tableau (or some other willing party) needs to step up the documentation!

                        • 24. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                          Shawn Wallwork

                          If I weren't out of the map business, I'd give it a go...



                          • 25. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                            Allan Walker



                            You are correct.  This is going to be subjective: Tableau are delivering 8.1 & 8.2 right now and delivering betas - that's where I see their focus.  So I doubt there is any spare time for a Tableau employee to deliver documentation.  The documentation would naturally focus on Filled Maps mark type and custom geocoding.  Here's what is available right now. (With regards to polygon mark type).  This has kind of been superseded by my ESRI -> Tableau MDB connector and Richard's shapetotab tool, and the Alteryx offering.


                            Urban Mapping could develop documentation, and they have put some pages up on their website about how to amend the TMS file.  This lets users adapt the default "out of the box" basemap (background layer).   They can also advise/consult/design to specific requirements but this is paywalled.


                            It could be argued that it's really not in Urban Mapping's interest to document any tool or service beyond their own - because it could affect their business model, and there's also keeping their code base and Tableau's code base aligned so everything works.


                            I simply don't have time to document how to customize background basemaps and middle layers using WMS, REST API or any other method other than what's available on my blog. Beyond that, I'm under a NDA anyway.

                            • 26. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                              Ian White

                              Hi Matthew


                              At the grave risk of inserting myself into this post, you might want to consider solutions that Urban Mapping offers--we are the native provider of mapping to Tableau, meaning we are in the best position to support enhanced mapping capabilities in Tableau. We have a few vizzes/tutorials that might be of interest and more info at urbanmapping.com/tableau.


                              If your needs require business-level support, implementation, offline mapping or traditional GIS activities to be accessed through Tableau, please have a look at what we offer and register for a free eval which gives access to high res imagery, custom geocoding, data overlays and more.


                              WMS/esri solutions exist, but keep in mind these require support of legacy GIS infrastructure--maybe this works for your organization, but to save you a lot of pain, please explore your options.

                              • 27. Re: Show highway labels at all zoom levels?
                                Matt Lutton

                                Thanks Ian.  We are aware of the paid offerings available, but this is all non-critical at this point and with what we have spent on our BI solutions already, I'm not sure we have any room left for additional support.



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