I considered starting a blog, but there are so many good ones already out there (Jonathan Drummey’s ‘Drawing With Numbers’ comes to mind). And then there’s the whole issue of trying to get people to find your blog. But mostly I realized that the sorts of things I’m interested in talking about all have to do with the Tableau forums in one way or another. In fact the forums themselves interest me; the flow of information, the Q&A, the banter, the functionality . Certainly the forum folks I've gotten to know in the past year are the folks I most want to exchange ideas, information and chat with. So I thought I’d start this bit of a blog right here in Viz Talk. I might go off on the occasional rant, but mostly I want to focus on what happened on the forums during the past week, hence the name. So here we go….
Week’s Most Difficult Question.
(This is of course arbitrary and stuff I found difficult.) Caron Lloyd posted this question, which deals with adding and subtracting dates to get duration, and then summing them along month. Oh, and keeping them numeric measures, not strings. And presenting the results in hh:mm format. I’m still picking away at this one, but don’t hold much hope of solving it before the holiday, so feel free to give it a go. (He's even attached a packaged workbook here.)
Week’s Best Answer.
(Again arbitrary, and only my opinion.) Russell Christopher posted this answer to a question about bringing Visio stuff into Tableau using some custom built macros. Now I’m going to have to dust off my long-atrophied Visio skills and give this a go.
Best Advice For Newcomers.
Whenever it is at all possible you should always post a packaged workbook with your question. But take care what data gets posted. Here’s an excellent post by Alex Kerin on what and what not to post, and ways of working around sensitive data.
Week’s Longest Discussion Thread.
This bit of fun, turned into a long discussion on how to improve the forums, which was a continuation of this thread. Taken together there are more than 83 posts with a lot of good suggestions, and Dustin, the guy in charge of the community has been actively engaged all along the way. So if you have ideas for improving the forums, post away on either of these threads, Dustin is listening.
My Shameless Plug.
Filled maps are great! They are such a useful tool. The only problem is you can’t see the roads and highways through the fill colors. If you’re looking at recognizable shapes like states, it’s not so bad. But if you’re using filled ZIP Codes, without streets it’s difficult to get oriented. But this past week all that changed, when Jake of Urban Mapping taught me just enough syntax to hack their TMS file and now we can see roads! Here’s the thread.
This solution will work fine on Server, but us Desktop/Reader folks still need a bit of help from Tableau to make this solution viable. So help us out and vote this idea up! Thanks.
Sneak Preview for Next Week.
Richard Leeke is up to his old tricks. He got completely absorbed with the idea of turning heat map squares into hexagons. It's another Richard master piece:
He should be posting a Viz Talk soon. And if you have any idea what this means:
[hex_bin_y] + (SIN(2*PI()*[vertex]/6 + PI()/6)) * [Y Scale]
You definitely won't want to miss it.
Thanks for reading this inaugural bit of blather. Ideas, suggestions and criticism are all welcome.