8 Replies Latest reply on Mar 23, 2015 4:32 AM by Harley Ellenberger

    Arrow Charts in Tableau

    Andy Cotgreave

      There's been some interesting chatter today started by Naomi Robbins who was looking at alternatives to pie charts. She's proposed an arrow chart. I like this idea. Jon Peltier did too, and showed us how to do it in Excel. I figured I should work out how to do it in Tableau, too. Here's the result:

       

      I like the charts shown above. And yes, it sure beats putting two pies side by side - it takes a moment to work out how to read it. How did I do it? Well, it was tougher than I expected as it involved several table calcs. So many, in fact, that I'm almost sure there's a much easier way than this - can you work out an easier way to do it? Download the workbook to see how I did it.

       

      I tried something similar a while back, the "Comet Chart", which was a complete usability failure - this wedge shape completely flummoxed users:

      And it's similar to a technique first shown to me by Al Knock, which he called a Galileo chart. This is my favourite - you can see how each rider performed in the race for the given year (the riders are sorted according to final position) and then look across the row to see how their performance has changed from year to year:

        • 1. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
          Michael Cristiani

          Andy,

           

          All of these ideas are immediately applicable in our work. Thanks.  Also, John and Naomi's material.

           

          MANY BLESSINGS!

          Peace and All Good!

          Michael

          • 2. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
            Michael Mixon

            Hi Andy,

             

            This is a cool exercise; I always enjoy getting introduced to new visualization options in Tableau.  In this case, though, I'm not sure how much more effective the arrow charts are vs. a more standard single-axis shape chart that uses a color spectrum to identify the largest changes yr/yr.  I put together an alternative view (link below) that does a few things (which I'm sure you'll be able to tease apart very quickly):

             

            • Gives the user a parameter so they can select which year they want to focus on (and compare to the prior year).  A more advanced view might also give them the choice on whether they want to compare to the prior year, or the first year, or something else.
            • Calculated the difference to the previous year (in both units and %) using a standard table calc,
            • Uses the unit difference to define the shape (up or down arrow) and the % difference to define the color.  I chose to use % vs units as it more clearly identified where we had the largest relative change.

             

            http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/arrowcharts_0/AnAlternative

             

            I'd love to hear your feedback on this.

             

            -Mike

            • 3. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
              Andy Cotgreave

              Nice response Mike. I like the single arrow use. I am not sure which I like better - they both have pros and cons. One thing I might have changed is to do an up and down arrow instead of left/right. Why? Without the content of the length of the bar to show the change, I think we refer to our more normal perception of Sales as something that goes up or down. See below - what do you think?

               

              • 4. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
                Michael Mixon

                Hi Andy,

                 

                Yep, you're absolutely right.  Once we simplify the chart to just arrows, up/down makes way more sense.  I mean, people talk about things going "sideways" in sales (or life, for that matter), but that's probably left to a different metric (and perhaps a viz with a more melancholy color palette). :-)

                 

                -Mike

                • 5. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
                  DJ Crane

                  Thanks for illustrating what is possible. It seems that Arrow Charts and Slopegraphs from Tufte would be valuable additions to Tableau visualization leadership ... particularly if they were made more accessible. Personally, I'd use both of them more than word clouds. From this thread, and postings elsewhere, it seems Arrow Charts and Slopegraphs are underused, at least in part, because most software does not make it straightforward to create them.

                  • 6. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
                    Catherine Justiniano

                    Hi Andy,

                    The pink/green vis is perfect for what I am working on.  However, the one piece that I haven't been able to replicate is hiding the 'no arrow' value in the legend.  I see how to do it in the workbook you have here, but I'm not able to get the hide option when I right click on the legend value in my workbook.  I am using 8.1 - I don't know if something changed from when this was originally posted but it seems like that shouldn't have been a feature that was removed.  I appreciate your help, thanks!

                    CJ

                    • 7. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
                      kettan

                      However, the one piece that I haven't been able to replicate is hiding the 'no arrow' value in the legend.  I see how to do it in the workbook you have here, but I'm not able to get the hide option when I right click on the legend value in my workbook.

                      You might like to up-vote  Hide legends while retaining their data

                      • 8. Re: Arrow Charts in Tableau
                        Harley Ellenberger

                        As a workaround you could float a text container (background = white) over the 'no arrow' value in the legend.