Break time!  And wasn’t I Mr. Sour Puss last time.  I brought a little sugar, so let me see if I can whip up a pitcher of lemonade from all that harrumphing last time.


Starting Over with Tableau Desktop

I really did enjoy, and was impressed by, Tableau’s “Get Started with Tableau Desktop” tutorial.  But, IMHO, some information was lacking.


And, to be fair, some of the things I’m going to mention were never intended to be a part of the tutorial.  Oh, I’m going to cover them just the same.  If I don’t, I won’t be able to make a full pitcher of lemonade.


Hey Marshall, what’s with the title of this post?  Click bait much?


Version 10.0 Specific

When I first went through the tutorial, some of the images and information wasn’t matching up with what the tutorial was saying.


At the time I was using Tableau Desktop 9.3.5.  After upgrading to 10.0.0, I wanted to see if there was any difference.  Sure enough, the images and information from the tutorial are now matching up.  But, only if I start over with a new workbook.  Opening the previous workbook created from version 9, I still experienced incorrect colors.


Different Automatic Color Palette

Colors?  Marshall, are you going to be that pedantic?


No.  Yes?  Listen, there’s a more important point to be made later; and, it concerns color.  For now, I’m just pointing out behavior which turned out to be an indicator that I was using the wrong version of Tableau Desktop.


Back to the topic at hand.  As an example, in step 4 the tutorial walks you through creating a heat map of profits in the South. Previously, my worksheet looked different.  But, as I said, if I started over using version 10, it all looks correct now.  Initially, I didn’t see anything obvious about this change in behavior.  But, there’s some good background on the change in color palettes by Maureen Stone.  A more in-depth breakdown of the changes in Tableau 10’s look and feel is covered by Zi Krostag.  There’s also the new features in 10.


Tutorial's Worksheet with Automatic color palette.png
Tutorial's Worksheet with Automatic color palette
My worksheet created using version 9.3.5 with Automatic color palette.png
My worksheet created using version 9.3.5 with Automatic color palette
My worksheet created using version 10.0.0 with Automatic color palette.png
My worksheet created using version 10.0.0 with Automatic color palette


Changing The Color Palette Changes The Behavior

Wow, the customizations available!  So many.  The choice of color palette is just the beginning.


But, don’t assume too much.  Or anything?  I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here when I see that I can change the colors being used; the only thing that should change is.  Wait for it.  The colors.




When the automatic color palette is used, you get additional behavior that isn’t available otherwise.


What follows speaks only towards adding color marks to a continuous field; which uses a quantitative palette.  I.e. dimensions.  I.e. aggregated measures.  And I’m only speaking about the diverging palettes.


I’ll use profits since an example is easier to talk about than trying to describe the behaviors in general terms.   So, after dragging profit onto the color mark, Profit Mark.bmpa continuous range of profits by state are created.


Keep reading if you wish; I fell asleep 5 minutes ago.  I published an example Vis that demonstrates this behavior if you want to play around yourself.


Behavior (with the automatic palette)

  • 2 colors are used
    Left  color for negative values
    White is used for the value 0
    Right color for positive values
  • Legend Card shows
    Lowest and highest profit value.  E.g. -$7,491 and $18,598.
    Color band matching the lowest and highest profit value.
  • Each color is shown only if its associated value is shown.  E.g.
    If negative and positive profits are visible, then both colors are shown.
    If there’s only positive profits visible, then only the right color is shown.


Behavior Lost (with a specific diverging palette)

Changing the colors to a specific diverging color palette changes how your worksheet behaves.

  • 2 colors are used
    Left  color for lowest value
    White is used for the median value
    Right color for highest value
  • Both colors are shown.  Always.


Positive profits onlyPositive and negative profits
AutomaticProfit Legend using automatic palette - positive values only.bmpProfit Legend using automatic palette.bmp
Orange-Blue DivergingProfit Legend using Orange-Blue Diverging palette - positive values only.bmpProfit Legend using Orange-Blue Diverging palette.bmp




Hey Marshall, isn’t that lemonade ready yet?  What are you doing?


Mostly, but I still wanted to cover ...


NO!  It’s Friday, well after 5 PM and it’s a 3 day weekend.