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Oh, man... If you guys could come up with scrolling containers (so that two long side-by-side sheets could scroll simultaneously, or two wide one-over-another sheets could scroll horizontally together), I would shout for joy!
I think there's already a thread on the Ideas forum for that.
And, wow, would it be cool to "pin" some floating object relative to another. For instance, pin a legend to a certain coordinate within a floating container where the sheet for that legend lives. Then if I drag the sheet's container somewhere, the legend automatically moves with the underlying container.
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Phil Naranjo wrote:
We're especially excited to dig into what are you doing to achieve pixel perfection
To answer this specific question: I use the positioning entry boxes to get exact positioning and size of floating objects. While this works OK, it is a bit cumbersome. For instance, to get objects evenly spaced across an area of a dashboard I have use a container to first determine the size and position of the area, decide the spacing I want between object, then do the math needed to get object evenly spaced/sized.
Here are some things that would greatly improve this dashboard design experience:
- Snap-to-grid. Including the ability to control the sizing of the grid.
- Allow us to select multiple objects and move them all at once.
- Allow us to group and ungroup floating object (not containerize them).
- Rulers and guidelines. Or at least horizontal/vertical center-lines.
- Distribute object evenly is probably too much to ask.
- Do NOT change any floating object’s position or size when we add extra pixels to an exact canvas size.
- Let us use the arrow keys to nudge an object into place (this would be much easier than switching to the Layout tab, and then using the position scroll arrows)
Those are my ‘pixel-perfect' suggestions. I know you probably hate it when folks say ‘make it more like PowerPoint’ so I won’t say that. Instead I’ll simply ask you to make it better than PowerPoint. At the moment the UI functionality is far from that.
Thanks for asking for this input, and scheduling this Q&A with the devs. Later I will post all the other areas of ‘Dashboarding’ I feel could use improvement.
Remember it’s the constructive criticism that ultimately improves your product. So as to not waste your time, I’ve left out all the things I really like about the Tableau Dashboarding experience. Please realize I wouldn’t take time to post this, if I didn’t think Tableau was worth the time and effort.
That's an interesting suggestion, Joe. What would you be trying to achieve with this type of layout container? We're doing some hard thinking about how to evolve authoring and containers.
Phil -- are you asking about the scrolling container?
I hit this when working with questions on the forum. Someone has a very long sheet of stuff, and then wants to do some special formatting of a grand total that is easy to do if you have the total in its own sheet. Lay the data viz next to the total sheet on a dashboard and the end user doesn't know it's two sheets. But if it's so long that it has to scroll, then there has to be two scroll bars -- one for each sheet. But if the whole container could scroll, then both sheets would scroll together.
If you're asking about pinning a floating object to an underlying object, it's the same stuff as Shawn is noting in his points 2 and 3. If I have 10 floating objects (to pick a number) all clustered in a location on a dashboard, and then requirements cause the underlying container to move somewhere else, all the floating objects need to be moved separately. It's not an end-of-the-world problem, but when I have that many things all lined up, it usually ended up that way through tedious pixel-by-pixel artistry. Realigning it all elsewhere causes a reinvention of that artistry in the new location.
Oh, Shawn! Your #6 should be #1! I wish I had remembered to point that out.
Another application of the scrolling container. End user asks for a series of mini-vizzes. And over time, the list of vizzes can grow. (Example: Initial request wants to see little barcharts of various business revenue measures. I can fit them all nicely across a strip of real estate in the dashboard. Then they want to add 4 more measures. And after that a series of expense measures. You know the drill!) A scrolling dashboard would allow me to string together an unlimited number of these vizzes, but the size of the container would just be a small viewing window that the user can scroll through.
Imagine a microfiche viewer if you can't picture what I'm describing.
Thanks for the explanation, Joe! I totally understand that scenario. I comes up somewhat often when speaking with customers. Also, we're thinking of ways to improve the underlying layout engine to improve the overall experience. Authoring via floating zones has so much potential but it does not need to be more direct/intuitive such as PowerPoint or Adobe Illustrator, to Shawn's point.
Glad to hear Joe. FYI: I didn't mean for the numbers to indicate any particular rank of importance; just an reference, making it easy for you to make your post above. If pushed I'd probably put #2 in first position, #5 in second, and #1 in third. (But that isn't the order I thought of them in. )
Ultimately all of these functionalities (or some version) are important and essential to making Tableau a 'next-generation' software.
Here's just a few off the cuff ideas and issues I've run into:
Boy it'd be nice to just simply draw a line on a dashboard.
Also, I've run into an interesting problem recently when bringing a text box out and selecting <User Name> from the dropdown. It does fine in Tableau Desktop, but when I access it in Tableau Online it suddenly prefixes it with the User Domain as well. I have found no fix except for floating a white box over the prefix and trying to mask it. No one seems to know why it does this, either.
I don't know how many people would use it, but it might be nice to have a zoom feature as well. Seeing a 4000px tall canvas all at once could really help to balance the narrative out.
I'd like the ability to format a blank object and put some shading and/or borders on it. This would make it easier to create dashboard layout templates. I can do it with empty Text objects, so why not blank objects?
When I go to the Objects section of the Layout pane, could we get an "Expand All" option somewhere?
In a filter or parameter dropdown, I'd like to be able to change the alignment of the body. I'd also like to set the shading of the list myself; Tableau lets you shade the filter/parameter box, but not the list itself.
In the worksheet dropdown menu, I'd love to have a "Disable Drill-Down/Drill-Up" option for my client facing dashboards.
A lot of what I struggle with has already been posted but:
-Transparent Backgrounds for Sheets would be nice!
- Shawn and Joe have awesome ideas and I +1 those as always. But Vincent's suggestion of simply drawing lines and Shawn's suggestion of rulers is +10. These seem like such simple things that can be released quickly. Currently I have to add a floating picture, which is super tedious, especially if the dashboard changes over time. And Rulers are always just nice for reference, Currently I go to layout tab, take a screen shot of the numbers (or write them down) and then move other containers accordingly.
I really like these suggestions, Vincent ! BTW, we're planning to release a feature later this year called Spacing (at least, internally). It enables you to control outer padding, borders, inner padding, and padding shading for any item in a dashboard. We showed it off at TC16. This, we hope, should obviate the need for using the blank objects to control white space.
Some of your other suggestions we're actively exploring internally via prototypes, etc. It's early but we're committed to changing the dashboarding workflow, which is still too difficult.
Completely agree about lines. I'm curious, how do you tend to use lines in dashboards? Mostly in floating or tiled layouts? Would you need the lines to do anything special besides breaking up space in a dashboard?
I draw a line by adding a floating container, shrinking it to a narrow and long size, and coloring it.