10 Replies Latest reply on Dec 10, 2009 9:18 AM by guest contributor

    Bullet Charts

    Jeffrey Levy

      Is it possible to create bullet charts in Tableau?  These are being used more and more to show actual vs. budget vs. target or actual vs. budget vs. great/good/poor performance.  We'd like to be able to incorporate it into a cross tab (text) that looks something like this:


      Location  Budget  Forecast  Month-Actual  YTD-Total  Bullet-Chart

      NY          1,000    800        500                  600


      So the bullet chart would:

      - Overall shaded area of Budget

      - Shaded line showing Forecast

      - Line showing Month-Acutal

      - Tick mark showing where the YTD-Total falls

      All of this would be in one bullet chart, and would go next to the numbers (rather than just a visualization of the bullet chart).


      Any ideas?



        • 1. Re: Bullet Charts
          Jeff Mills

          Here is an example of a bullet chart in Tableau.  Remember that you need to have these target values in your database (typically).

          • 2. Re: Bullet Charts
            . JasonMack

            Thanks Jeff Mills.  I'm a big fan of Stephen Few's books and have been wondering about bullet charts in Tableau.  Glad I decided to check the forums today!


            One thing i noticed is that the color coding of the qualitative ranges (ex. bad, okay, good) all seem to be different sizes (height is slightly smaller)  Is it possible to make them all the same height and only have the acutal bar be the thin line?  Few shows this in his design spec here:



            Thanks again and appreciate any further advice!

            • 3. Re: Bullet Charts
              Joe Mako

              I found that you can make a bullet graph in Excel with some trickery, see http://www.exceluser.com/explore/bullet.htm, and thought, why not try it in Tableau.


              I know Tableau does not like showing both text numbers (Crosstab) and graphs in the same worksheet. The best way to do that is with a dashboard.


              Be aware that the attached file may not be a best practice, this is a hack. If people really like it, I can automate the creation of the data source, and add some more of Stephen Few's variations. Personally, I think the end result looks nice, but the process I do not consider pretty.


              Take a look at the attached .twbx, if you have any questions on what I did, or have any requests for variations, please let me know.


              (A slight issue I noticed was when resizing the graph worksheet frame in the dashboard [or the Tableau windows size], sometimes thin white lines would appear, slight resizing of the frame will cause them to disappear.)

              • 4. Re: Bullet Charts
                Alex Blakemore

                Here are two variations on Joe's clever bullet chart.

                See the worksheets with the "Alt" prefix, such as Alt Dashboard.


                The Alt 2 series looks better than the Alt series, but the Alt series can read a more compact version of the data.



                Tableau could make this better by allowing users to set the size for individual bars when editing a size menu, instead of just setting the min and max. Then you could get the nice visual effect of the Alt 2 series using the simple data layout of the Alt series

                • 5. Re: Bullet Charts
                  Joe Mako



                  Your Alt 2 series is very elegant, well done.


                  This leaves just one unresolved issue, having a reference line generated from a Measure value. As it is now, it must be set with a constant, and it is not possible to display more than one bullet graphs in the same worksheet with different "Targets"/reference lines. I could see this being OK if the axis of each is a different range, but it would be highly useful to have a reference line generated from a Measure value.

                  • 6. Re: Bullet Charts
                    Alex Blakemore

                    Thanks for the kudos.


                    Here's yet another variation, Alt 3.


                    It gets the effect of a reference line generated from the data using ghant bars and calculated fields, at the cost of losing the different bar widths used by bullet charts.


                    I agree it would be useful to be able to be easier to generate a reference line from data - maybe using a formula

                    • 7. Re: Bullet Charts
                      guest contributor

                      Hi all,


                      We just acquire Tableu and I'm in charge to define the Monthly Dashboard for the Board or Shareholders, we select the Bullet Graph as our main Graph, however I can't find the way to build a Bullet Graph with Forecast in Tableau?


                      I'm adding an example for ilustration


                      And I would like to know if Tableau can create the bullet graphs attached on the .pdf document page 3 of 5 "The Ccomparative Measure(s) and on page 5 of 5 "Optional Features"


                      Do you have some ideas?


                      Thanks for your feedback





                      • 8. Re: Bullet Charts
                        James Baker



                        The bullet chart that Jeff posted above is the best workaround that you can implement in the current version of Tableau.  Seeing that, though, we decided that we could do a lot better.  Several improvements targeted at bullet charts are coming soon!  Rather than beating your head against the wall right now, I'd recommend waiting until early next year, when your task will become easy and beautiful.  :)

                        • 9. Re: Bullet Charts
                          guest contributor

                          If you plan on adding Bullet Graphs to your existing type of predefined charts, I can only encourage you to do so. This would be one of the most useful addition to Tableau for dashboarding purposes, in my view. I can't wait for that improvement to become reality...

                          • 10. Re: Bullet Charts
                            guest contributor

                            I too would like to see Bullet Graphs added to Tableau.  They're great for communicating a large amount of data on a single dashboard in an actionable way.