3 Replies Latest reply on Mar 11, 2014 1:37 AM by Jonathan Drummey

    Sort Grand Total Amongst Individual Locations?


      Here's the situation. My customers have been using a SAS report for years which integrates the grand total into the rest of the locations. So in the attached image, the Grand total bar would be between 'Random Location #5' and 'Random Location #6.'


      I've suggested using a reference line, but they would prefer the bar. Similarly, I've suggested pre-aggregating the data in the SQL, but they would like to be able to filter out certain locations and have the grand total bar dynamically change as well. I've also suggested a dual axis, but what they really want to see is where the system (the grand total) ranks amongst the individual locations.


      I would attach a workbook but this is regarding sensitive healthcare information. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


      Thank you,




      *** Update ***


      I just wanted to say thank you and that you are all brilliant. I definitely agree that this is a great time to re-examine the way we visualize the data for this report (although sometimes finagling the software may be easier than changing someone's mind ). Thanks again!


      Message was edited by: Cory Tak

        • 1. Re: Sort Grand Total Amongst Individual Locations?
          Shawn Wallwork

          Ahhhh Cory we all feel your pain! We've all gone through the "they want" (what they are use to) scenarios as Tableau gets introduced into the corporate culture. Take heart all is not lost, even the most die-hard "we-want-what-we-want" folks finally weaken, bend, and eventually break against the obvious superiority of the fast analysis of Tableau. Read this post from a friend of mine:


          Re: A Tableau State Of Mind...


          As to your specific question, figure out a way to use one of the Superstore sample data sets to cast your question into something we can play with. What you're trying to do looks/sounds doable, so don't give up.



          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Sort Grand Total Amongst Individual Locations?
            Phillip Burger

            Another angle to use to pushback is that it's not visual best practices. A review of authors like Stephen Few and it's apparent that a chart like that should not exist and for good reason.


            Part of what Tableau has done is build in best practices that are based on science, on the understanding of human visual cognition. I would hope that Tableau would never add a "feature" like what your clients want to see. Regardless, if you can mockup a .twbx and post it, a member of the Tableau Community will probably try to finagle a way to obtain that order of values. 


            Understanding human, visual perception:


            Information Visualization, Third Edition: Perception for Design (Interactive Technologies): Colin Ware: 9780123814647: A…


            Great for contemporary dashboard design:


            Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring: Stephen Few: 9781938377006: Amazon.com: Books

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Sort Grand Total Amongst Individual Locations?
              Jonathan Drummey

              Hi Cory,


              I second what Shawn & Phillip said. "This is how we've always done it." is not a particularly good argument for keeping something in place. You could start a conversation with something like, "Since we're implementing new software with new capabilities, this is a good time to review the questions you are asking of your data and whether the visualizations you've been using are answering those questions in the most effective way."


              Then you could point out in that screenshot, the user has to look at two different X,Y coordinates to find the ends of one bar and the grand total bar, and hold them both in mind to do a comparison. Whereas with a reference line they can see that on the same Y coordinate, just two X coordinates, and then talk about the Gestalt theories of perception. Or maybe they are looking for some sort of comparison to average, in which case another visualization might do the job better. Personally, I'm a big fan of a single-axis dot plot (which can be turned into a box plot if need be) for an overview of individual vs. group performance:


              Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 4.28.32 AM.PNG.png


              Or maybe they are looking for a ranking? Tableau's INDEX() and RANK_*() functions could do the job there. There are lots of directions this could go.


              That aside, one way you likely could get the results you want is to increase the dimensionality of your data so there is an extra dimension that can distinguish between the Grand Total and everything else. I used the UNION approach from Customizing Grand Totals – Part 3 | Drawing with Numbers (actually, I just downloaded the workbook and created a new worksheet) and just sorted the view so the Grand Total is now in the middle of the view.


              Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 4.12.54 AM.PNG.png


              The nice part about this is that the view can be filtered any which way and still return accurate results because the data that goes into the Grand Total is a full duplicate of the data used for the rest of the marks. However, if you are using table calcs to generate the %, or a data blend, then you may need to put in some extra effort to make sure the results are accurate.