3 Replies Latest reply on Nov 12, 2012 9:47 AM by Jonathan Drummey

    Why Export To PDF Doesn't Work.

    Shawn Wallwork

      (Former) Zen Master Andy (he now works for Tableau) just tweeted a great link to a cheat sheet for helping guide you in your data viz choices. There are some real gems on this page, well worth studying. I thought Viz Talk would be a good place to fire up a discussion on some of these bits of data viz wisdom. Here's the first one that caught my eye:

       

      PDF problem.PNG

       

      I know we are all busy, so it is tempting to export dashboards to PDFs and send them off. Unfortunately, more often than not this provides the target audience with an ineffective, badly designed piece of communication that does a disservice to both you and Tableau. Design data communications with the presentation channel in mind. There is no one size fits all here.

       

      What do you think, PDF or no PDF?

       

      --Shawn

        • 1. Re: Why Export To PDF Doesn't Work!
          Jonathan Drummey

          I think the answer for Tableau goes back to the first sentence you quoted. A dashboard that supports exploration and self-reliance will be different from one designed to communicate something like "how are we doing today?" I totally agree that the former probably won't look good in a PDF, however the latter might be perfect.

           

          Jonathan

          • 2. Re: Why Export To PDF Doesn't Work!
            Shawn Wallwork

            Jonathan, I don't see how including dashboard controls, and sliders aid communications, or clarity. It just ends up looking like a hack job -- a lazy viz. As if you don't care about the viz you're producing; don't care about your audience, and/or don't care about your reputation as a data viz guy.

             

            Don't get me wrong, I've produced my fair share of bad looking vizzes, but I am currently trying to up my game, and swearing of PDF exports is my first step. After all, how much longer does it take to take a few screen shots (without the filters/parameters/sliders), arrange them nicely in a word doc, add some better looking labels, and them export to PDF? Sure it does take longer, but it looks so much more professional, and that is never not worth it.

             

            --Shawn

            • 3. Re: Why Export To PDF Doesn't Work!
              Jonathan Drummey

              I think we're talking about the same thing here...I agree that a dashboard designed for exploration with the necessary controls, etc. will just be a hack screenshot as a PDF. My point was that it's also possible to design a dashboard that is focused on answering some relatively simple questions (without much if anything for interactivity) that can look good both on screen and in PDF (or in my case, pasted WMF into PowerPoint). Whether it's worth it to go to that amount of effort in building the dashboard vs. screenshots and manual annotations is a related but separate question.

               

              Jonathan