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How to Make a Navigation Bar with Buttons in Tableau

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Instructor

Ryan Sleeper

Link Tableau dashboards with a seamless navigation menu

This video shows you how to create a user-friendly navigation experience by adding a navigation bar to the top of a dashboard. You’ll see how to create links with dashboard actions and/or with the Button dashboard object.

Hi. This is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’m going to show you how to add a seamless navigation bar to a Tableau dashboard using buttons. To help illustrate, we’re going to be once again using the Super Sample Superstore dashboard over here in Tableau Desktop.

One of the main features of this dashboard is the top navigation. You can see that this workbook contains three dashboards inside of it. And each one of those has an associated button with it in the top navigation. Those three dashboards are Explanatory, Actionable, and Annotations.

If you were to click on one of these buttons, it will navigate the user to that interior page. Prior to Tableau Desktop version 2018.3, you kind of had to hack this together. I’ll show you some behind the scenes on this. And actually, you can see one of the drawbacks to the prior approach on the screen right now. Once you had clicked on a button, it had become selected, so when you returned to that screen, you get that light-colored blue. And that was what you see is what you get there. There was no formatting options for how it looks in a selected state.

There’s a better way to do it now using Button objects. But just to show you the prior version, in case you’re curious about the history of Tableau, I guess, and/or your company hasn’t upgraded to version 2018.3 or later, because this is the approach you would have to use, I’m going to go to this sheet and just show you that it’s simply its own worksheet. I’ve put the name of the dashboard onto the Text Marks Card. Once I’ve got that as its own sheet, I added it to a dashboard. And then you would have to add an action.

So here is the button for that. And it’s just saying, if you click on that page, I want you to navigate to that other dashboard. Well, this is a lot easier to do now with the relatively new now Button object that’s available to you here in the bottom-left corner of the Dashboard pane. To help create a similar navigation on the second dashboard, I’ll show you how to do this using a series of Button objects instead of what we had previously.

So the first button we need to add is a link back to the first dashboard, which is called the Explanatory dashboard. I’m going to make sure that this object is in a floating orientation and choose Button. And I’m going to drag that onto the view. And by default, we see an Image button.

But now that there is a button on the view, there are several settings that we can change. By selecting that object, you know it is selected because it will have a gray border around it. Then click this down arrow and click Edit Button. Like I mentioned, the default button style is an Image button. But because we’re simply putting text on there to click on, the other option inside of this dropdown is Text Button.

And of course, you can format this however you like. But the idea in this case is to try to make this look as seamless as possible, almost as if it’s not actually built in Tableau. So to get that to work, I need the background of the button to be the same color as that top navigation bar. And luckily, the background is one of the several formatting options I have available to me.

So here is the blue for that background. Anytime you see the Apply button, you can preview the change before you accept it. So if I click Apply, at this point, we just see a gray box, and it says Button inside of it. One of the reasons we don’t see any text, or one of the reasons it looks like this– first of all, we don’t see any text because we need to enter the text within this Title box.

So I’m just going to type in the name of the button, which should be Explanatory. And also, the color of a button does not appear until it is linked to something. So if you want the background color to show up, you need to navigate the button somewhere within the workbook. And that’s what this top dropdown is for. So we will have this navigate back to the Explanatory dashboard. And I’ll hit Apply again to see how this is looking.

Now it seems to be coming together. There’s a couple other changes I might want to make. You can click on this Font dropdown to maybe make the font bolder, maybe make it white instead of the default so that we get that nice reverse contrast on this button. I’ll go ahead and click Apply again. Now we’re starting to look pretty good. And I’ll click OK.

So we have a button. And I happen to know that this top bar is 50 pixels tall. I could confirm that by clicking anywhere on that object, navigating to the Layout pane, and there is the height of that top bar. So I will make this button the same height. And maybe just to make nice round numbers that I can remember, I’ll make the width of all these buttons 150.

I also know, to get this onto the very top of the dashboard, it needs to be located at 0 pixels on the y-axis. So I will change that to 0. And then this button, I noted this dimension before recording. It’s (576) pixels in on the x-axis. I could also confirm that by going to my first one, clicking on that object, and seeing that it is 576 pixels in on the x-axis.

Let’s test out this first button before we keep moving. If you would like to test buttons– because note, when I click on it now, nothing is happening– well, if I double-click on it, the settings reopen. But it’s not navigating me to the Explanatory dashboard like I would expect. To test a Button object once you have added it to a view in Tableau, you have to go to Presentation mode, which is this projector-looking icon in the top of the ribbon.

If I click on that, now if I click Explanatory, it navigates me to the Explanatory dashboard. If I click Actionable, note, the Button object is not selected. So that was one of the nice benefits to this new approach to adding buttons to Tableau dashboards. The Button object no longer has that automatic selection with that light blue shading.

So we’re on the right track. Let’s go ahead and finish the other two. The second one is a little bit tricky. It’s not tricky to make, but we’re going to kind of trick our audience into thinking it’s part of the navigation and make it look even more seamless than the other buttons. We’ll say that the selected buttons will be colored white so that they blend in with that row of filters there at the top.

And technically, this button isn’t going to navigate us anywhere. It’s just being used to show us where we are within the workbook. So instead of adding a Button object, I’m actually just going to add a floating Text object. And I’ll just make the font match what we had before. So we’re now on the Actionable tab. The size was 10. Make this bold. Make the font white and center it.

Now that I have a text object on the view, I can go to the Layout pane and format it’s background. So I’ll click– by default, it has None, but I can click white. And I had the font color backwards. That one’s not going to be white. That’s going to be our blue to give us that reverse contrast.

And there’s our Text object. I’ll make it the same height and width as the Explanatory button. Move it up to 0 pixels on the y-axis, and this one will be 725 pixels in on the x-axis. Deselect it, and now you can see it appears to be a seamless navigation showing us where we are in the workbook. I like that the current tab is flowing right into the workbook. Just a very subtle indicator to show us where we are. I think it looks very nice and seamless.

We’ll go ahead and finish this out by adding one more text-style button to show you this one more time. So the Button object, it’s floating. By default, it’s going to be an image. But I will edit the settings of this, navigate it to my third and final dashboard within this workbook, the Annotations tab. Change the style to Text. Enter the name– so this one is Annotations. Edit the font. I’ll make this white, bold, 10-point font. The background should be the blue that matches the top navigation.

I’ll preview the change just to make sure I’m on the right track. Looks pretty good. So I’ll click OK. With this Button object still selected, I will resize it by going to the Layout pane, make it the same size as the first two buttons, put it at 0 on the y-axis. And this one is 874 pixels in on the x-axis.

I could test this out by going to Presentation mode. I’ve finalized that top seamless navigation built with buttons. I already showed you, if I click on Explanatory, it navigates me there. Actionable– that was the old way of doing it with individual sheets and dashboard actions. Click on that. It turns white, showing me where I am. If I click the third and final button, it navigates me to the third and final dashboard within this workbook.

This has been Ryan with Playfair Data TV – thanks for watching!