This looks like a potential hot topic for a Think Data Thursday. I'll check in with some of our ambassadors and Zen Masters at Tableau Conference next week to discuss this as a potential presentation topic. Would you find such a presentation useful?
I have no personal experience with it but one of my users has been playing with it. Tableau is taking a step in the right direction but my impression was that it has room for improvement. Rob Dalley, can you provide input?
I used it when I was working on a workbook designed for a specific mobile device. It worked well for that. I only wish the preview box remained visible as I scrolled down through the 8 'pages' of charts. Right now it's fixed at the top and disappears when you scroll down.
Absolutely. I will be trying to gauge Device Preview use next week as well, to see if anyone else has been encountering the same issues I've had. Fundamentally it's the right direction for Tableau to be moving, but there are inherent problems that come up if you've only ever designed for desktop use. I put together a workbook that illustrates 4 of the biggest hurdles when designing for mobile (hover tooltips, dashboards that require big screen real estate, filters that don't render correctly, and embedded URL web pages), to see if I could come up with a useful mobile equivalent. Have at it, if you'd like.
Mobile challenge.twbx 1.3 MB
Like others have mentioned, Tableau is heading in the right direction but with 10.0 I'm not convinced multiple device support totally there yet. I have users that use big desktop monitors, laptops and iPads for the same viz dashboard. I set up my dashboards to be fixed in size for all these devices as well as the default, but received varying levels of conformance on all these devices. Sometimes I would receive the iPad layout on a desktop monitor with automatic sizing. For the moment I've removed the iPad specific layouts but will give it another go with 10.1.
Ever since Tableau launched version 10 which supported Device Specific Views I have been using it to customize dashboards for both personal and business use. There's definitely a lot Tableau can do to improve but there's a ton we can already do with its current capabilities. I'll have to agree your dashboards were pretty challenging to customize for a phone, and thus I request you to take a look at what I have done/suggested in the attached workbook (made in 10.1). Please consider this not as a final answer to the issues you pointed out but as merely a suggestion to get started. I would love to see what others suggest and learn from it.
I have added notes in the dashboard itself to help you understand my approach but here are some additional thoughts:
1. Map_bar_tooltips: I am not a pro at maps specially use of third party maps. I try not to use maps on a phone because of certain scrolling issues. Also when trying to use one on a phone, I would suggest setting up an action filter between the map and the other information (bar chart in your case) you want to show. Currently the tooltips pop-up over the mark itself and might take up some screen space. However, tableau announced at the conference last week, some amazing updates they are making to tooltips for mobile. It might be worth the wait.
2. MoM/Run_Sum: In my opinion, this would be very difficult to customize for a phone. I haven't tried to make one, but I would suggest to pick out the most important information your users would like to see on a phone and start from there. A phone view shouldn't be a replica of the default view and shouldn't show all the information you see on a desktop. It should only show that information which is most important for the user to know and can see on a phone when they might not have time to login to a laptop. If one wants to see all the details they can always login to their machine for extra analysis. I try to use this logic at my workplace and it has worked fine so far. This not only helps make decisions but avoids clutter on a small screen size.
3. Filters: You are correct when you say the way filters are rendered on a phone is a bit problematic. However, having said that, I would suggest to use as less number of filters on a phone as possible. If you must use all the filters, I have customized a phone view for this dashboard which you can see in the file. However a few drawbacks would be
1. to know that the filters alone take up about half your phone screen leaving only half for the actual visualization.
2. Also I would suggest showing only one value each from Region and Sub-Category at a time when viewing it on a phone unlike the default view where you can select multiple values at a time
3. try changing the scatter plot to a bar chart (you might have to create a duplicate sheet, one for default and one for phone) or something for the phone view if you absolutely need to select multiple regions and sub-categories.
4. URL Action: I would try to avoid showing a webpage on a phone unless you know if the webpage has a view customized for a phone. Because, without any fault of your own, the webpage might not be able to adjust to the phone size and render a desktop site on a phone and this might spoil the experience. If you must however want to do so, I have customized the view in the attached file. What I also did was I duplicated the bar chart and customized the sheet for ease of use on a phone. You might know that in order to use a sheet on any other view it needs to be there on the default view. But this doesn't always help. So what I used to do was duplicate the sheet, modify for phone, float it on the default dashboard in some corner, decrease the size to as small as possible and hide it behind an empty text box or other object. But I learnt a new trick at Tableau Conference where I can just float it on the default view, go to layout and change the x,y co-ordinates to push it outside my default boundary. With this I don't need to hide it behind other objects or decrease the size to make it invisible. After that all you need to do is remove the original bar chart from the phone view and bring in the duplicated (edited) view for the phone.
Device Specific Dashboards has been my favorite feature of Tableau 10 and I hope this helps you get started and explore the feature even more.
That's good advice, Sura. I also recommend creating all three device layouts so that you have full control over what your mobile viz viewers are seeing. If you don't create all three, the default appears where there is an undefined device layout. Device layouts can be thought of as analogous to CSS breakpoints in responsive web design. The Device Designer feature's detection logic on Tableau Server measures the size of the mobile browser window's embeddable space. It utilizes the lesser of the measured width and height of the embeddable space to figure out which of the three layouts to display. (Why the lesser? To support either portrait or landscape orientation). For a phone, when viewing an dashboard where :embed=y (best for mobile browsers), the phone screen size is the same as the embeddable space (minus vertical room lost to the browser toolbar and other UI.)
This measure value gets compared with three predefined thresholds that determine which device layout to serve:
- if value <= 500 pixels then display phone layout
- if value > 500 pixels and <= 800 pixels then display tablet layout
- if value >800 pixels then display desktop layout
If you don't define a device layout, say, for tablet, then default will appear when the dashboard gets loaded on a device with this amount of embeddable space.
As for more general advice on how to use the feature, here are some insight shared by other Tableau authors:
Great advice and thank you for the explanation about how the browser determines the size to pick.
For all the dashboards I have built so far, I have not felt the need to build one specially for Tablet and Desktop. But I can say this only for devices readily available to me where I have tested my dashboards When I do build a separate view for all 3 devices, I do that so I can use the Default view as a place only to store all my different views.
I've just completed a large story (10 pages) on Tableau Desktop, for distribution to a couple hundred people, and spent a lot of time finding a layout that would work on a variety of computer screen sizes (all bets are off for anyone using a tablet).
Automatic size did not work well, with charts either squeezed together too tightly or spaced apart too widely, and dashboards tending not to look good on any screen size. I chose to go with 1024 x 786 layout, which gave enough room to comfortably fit 3 charts per dashboard, and have reasonably good looking results on everything from a 13" laptop to a 24" desktop.
Device Designer sounds like an awesome feature, I wish it were available in Tableau Desktop.
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1024 x 786 sounds like a good size. I generally use a 'Legal Landscape' (1150 x 700) size and it works fine.
Also, Device Designer is available in Tableau Desktop v10.0 and above.
Thanks for the heads-up on Landscape Designer, I'll try it out next time i do a viz for wide distribution.