So, I saw a project that a graphics programmer was working on yesterday and ever since my head has been buzzing to see if I can figure out how to mimic it in Tableau. Essentially, he used an ever-unfolding graph to display hierarchical dimensions until you got down to the lowest child elements and could look at the data: http://youtu.be/KN3tKT0E0t8?t=14m25s
As far as exact mimicry, obviously even his simplest display is impossible in Tableau. However, in theory, I can imagine setting up a viz that lets you navigate through your data by spawning a new set of nodes in the perpendicular direction when you click on a node (so down, right, down, left, etc). It feels like you would need to use the custom mapping and pathing to essentially map all of your data onto a giant coordinate plane, following pathing graphs from the top data elements to all of their eventual children. Since you can precisely control the XY points you put things on, you might even be able to make it look pretty cool and have patterns other than branching straight lines after you figure out the initial math. You could also (in theory) use the zooming on maps to perhaps get some of the intuitive zooming you see on the video.
Has anyone tried anything like this in Tableau? I'm currently trying to understand how I would have to organize the data in order to use the paths appropriately, and how it might look in tableau. I'll probably have to create a trivially small sample to test on. I've been thinking about how to code something like this for any dataset, and the algorithm seems like it will end up being fairly complex. Probably many days of work, so I wanted to get the community's thoughts now as I likely will only have spots of time here and there to work on this and any input that helps speed this up would be great.
End goal: Create a SAS (or any other appropriate language) program to use hierarchical data to create a pathing dataset to load into tableau and display in such a way that you can dig into even very complex hierarchical data intuitively and get a sense of its structure. Perhaps displaying data in a side panel that summarizes the satellite data of everything underneath the currently selected node (assuming, unlike in the video, that all of your endpoints contain the same types of satellite data). For my purposes, I'm envisioning course data where you drill from college to department to course to section to individual students.
Assuming I end up concluding that this is indeed possible in some form, this will probably be a project I work on intermittently until I feel I have something satisfying. Any thoughts or suggestions would be very appreciated.