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How to Use Tableau Parameter Dashboard Actions

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Instructor

Ryan Sleeper

Overwrite parameter values by simply interacting with a dashboard

Learn how to add a “Change Parameter” action to a dashboard; available as of Tableau 2019.2. In this use case, Ryan shows you how to create a highlight effect on the Region dimension by clicking dimension members throughout a dashboard.

Hi, this is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’ll be covering Tableau parameter dashboard actions. This is a new feature that’s available as of Tableau 2019.2, and I’m particularly excited about this new feature because I’ve always thought of parameters as my Swiss army knife. If you’re not familiar with parameters, I highly encourage you to watch the video An Introduction to Tableau Parameters before watching this video.

But I describe parameters as my Swiss army knife because of their flexibility. Parameters are user-generated values. You as the author get to code what those allowable values are, but from there, you get to transfer the control of that value to your audience. It’s very powerful and very flexible. There’s lots of applications for this. You’ve probably seen several of them already here at Playfair Data TV, but these parameters have just been made even better with this new feature because parameters can now be integrated with dashboard actions.

Because Tableau parameter dashboard actions are a new dashboard action, we’ll be building on this dashboard that you see on the screen here that was also used over on the video An Introduction to Tableau Dashboard Actions. They’ve just extended the capabilities of dashboard actions, so I’m going to put together a quick use case to show you how this newest dashboard action operates.

Let’s say for the purposes of this illustration that we want to create a highlighter that is based on the Region dimension. Well, I will start a new sheet, and the first thing I will do is create a parameter. And the data type will be String because what we are going to do is allow our end user to click on any of the four Region names. The Region dimension is– sorry, I can’t scroll down there– but the Region dimension is a data type of String, so all my allowable values will also be String.

And I will call this my Region Selected. And it will be a very specific list of four choices, so I’ll go ahead and choose List. And because I am adding these four allowable values from an existing dimension, I will choose Add from Field instead of having to type each of the four names, and being very particular on how they’re spelled and typed, I will just choose Region, which will populate all four allowable values.

So there is my Region Selected parameter. This is going to do almost nothing on its own. I can’t even drag and drop it onto the view. So I need to use it within a calculated field. I will call this one my Region Highlighter. And the entire formula is just Region Selected, which is my parameter– you see it turn purple– equals Region.

This is a Boolean formula, so it’s only going to have two outcomes, True and False. The Region dimension member either equals the allowable value in the parameter, or it does not. If I were to put this onto the Color Marks Card of each of the sheets on my dashboard, the region that is selected in the parameter is– will be colored one thing. Everything else will be colored something else. So let’s go ahead and do that next step.

I’m going to click OK to close this. We’ve got four sheets on this dashboard– Stacked Bar Chart, Map, Line Graph, and Sorted Bar Chart. Going to go into each one of those sheets, and instead of coloring by Region, this time I’m going to color by that newly created Region Highlighter by dragging that to Color.

As I mentioned, if you are the current allowable value, you will be colored one thing. Everything else will be colored something else. I can review the allowable value, the current allowable value, by editing this parameter. And we can see at the current value right there is Central.

I could have also shown this Parameter Control to look at something else or even choose something else. So if I choose East, we see that East is now colored orange. Everything else is colored blue. I’m going to go finish coloring each of my sheets by the newly created Region Highlighter.

So there’s my map. There’s my line graph. Now this one’s a little bit different. We just changed the level of detail. Instead of having four different regions, we’re now only looking at whether it is the highlighted region or everything else grouped together. I want to get that Region level of detail back, so I’m going to add the Region dimension to the Detail Marks Card and then my sorted bar chart, the Region Highlighter one more time. Let’s go take a look at our dashboard.

And now because I switched that current value of the Region Selected parameter from Central to East, the East region is highlighted throughout the dashboard. But what we are going to do to use this newest feature is we’re going to set up a dashboard action that allows us to overwrite what that current value of the Region Selected parameter is, which will change what’s being highlighted. You might be thinking, well there’s a highlight dashboard action. Why don’t I just use that?

This is a much more permanent and powerful way to highlight dimension members throughout a view. It’s not simply highlighting. It’s not making the color brighter and everything else grayed out. We literally have two different colors. So just a little bit more permanent. It’s in my opinion more handy if you’re in a meeting and trying to really bring attention to something and/or you want to print something out. It’s just a more permanent highlighting solution, so I prefer to do this way versus the traditional highlight dashboard action.

To add a parameter dashboard action, click Dashboard in the top navigation and then Actions. And then Add Action. These are the six dashboard actions currently available to us, and the newest one is this one, Change Parameter. That’s the one we’re discussing on this video.

Going to click that. We see a new interface. It’s fairly intuitive. The first thing I’m going to do is give this a name. I’ll call this my Parameter Highlight Example. And it looks similar to the others. The default is Select, which is synonymous with ‘click’. I’m going to leave that default in there. So this is currently saying that if you click on any of these four sheets, it will overwrite the allowable value in the parameter.

The most important– well there’s two important things about this interface I’d say 1A and 1B, the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re targeting the correct parameter that you are overwriting. There are two parameters that come out of the box with the Sample – Superstore dataset, and we just added this third one, Region Selected. So we want to make sure that is the parameter that we are targeting, and we also want to choose the field that is being overwritten.

Some of these sheets have multiple fields on them, which is why we have a choice here. But we are overwriting the Region dimension members, so I’ll choose Region. And we’ll get to this error message in just a moment, but one other note here. Note that the aggregation, because the data type is String, our aggregation is None. If you were using a data type of Float or Integer, you would choose not only the measure that’s being overwritten but also the aggregation of that measure. But we can leave it as None because strings don’t have an aggregation.

And this says missing fields on multiple worksheets. Let’s see. We are using the Region dimension. This isn’t quite working for us yet. Let’s see what sheets we are missing this Region dimension on. So I’m going to go to my stacked bar chart. Looks like we have it there because it’s on the Label Marks Card.

Looks like it’s missing on the map so we need to add that to Detail. So Region to Detail. If it doesn’t have the field on the view, it doesn’t know what it’s looking for to overwrite that allowable value in the parameter. So you have to make sure that the field you are targeting is on every single worksheet. Line Graph’s got it, and Sorted Bar Chart does not have it either. So let’s just drag that to Detail.

Notice the view did not change at all because we were already breaking it down at the State level of detail, and we are coloring by the Region Highlighter (so) by adding the Region dimension to the Detail Marks Card, we did not change the look of the view at all. But now if I go back and edit that dashboard action, we should see that error message go away, and we do because that field is now on all four sheets.

And now if I coded this properly– I’m going to click OK to get out of this– regardless of what region I click on, it will overwrite. It’ll take the dimension member from the Region dimension in each sheet and overwrite the allowable value in the Region Parameter. That allowable value in my Region Parameter is then feeding that calculated field we created to create the highlight effect, which was the Region Selected Parameter equals the Region dimension.

That can only be true with one region at a time, but regardless of which region I click on, that is what becomes highlighted. And because we set up our dashboard action to work across all four sheets, this is true of any of the sheets. So if I click on one of the states that are in the West region on my map, note that it highlights the West region throughout the other charts. If I click on a state that’s in the East region from my bar chart, it still overwrites that allowable value, and that’s what becomes the focus of the highlighter.

Notice that I can only do this with one thing at a time. Parameters, that’s how they work. You can only overwrite one value at a time. If you ever need to do more than that and/or use a multi-select, I encourage you to check out set actions, which you can learn more about over on that video I mentioned earlier, An Introduction to Tableau Dashboard Actions.

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