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Tableau Dashboard Element: The Global Filters Tab

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Instructor

Ryan Sleeper

Keep dashboards clean while maintaining filtering flexibility

Ryan shares how to maintain a minimalist design when your stakeholders ask to add an excessive number of filters. You’ll see how to apply filters across Tableau worksheets and use dashboard actions to navigate your audience to a filters-only view.

Hi, this is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’m going to be sharing one of my favorite dashboard elements, which I call the Global Filters tab. This is a way to keep your dashboards nice and clean and reduce the number of filters being shown while also providing the flexibility to have your end user be able to access a lot more filters that aren’t being shown in the view. It’s like sweeping all the filters under the rug or pushing them into the closet.

We’re going to hide these filters. Our end user will still have access to them, but we’re going to make this a lot more elegant of a user experience. Instead of showing 50 filters on a dashboard, we’re going to show the most important ones and then provide a means for our end user to access the secondary or contextual filters.

To illustrate, we’re going to be using the Super Sample Superstore dashboard that you see on the screen here. As you can see on that top row, there are five filters. Those are actually mostly built with parameters, but we’ve essentially allowed our end user access, or at least direct access, to five different filters– the start date, the end date, the region, how we’re comparing dates, and then the granularity or the date part.

But let’s say this was a real-world application. I put this out there to my end user. And then they came back to me and said, well, I want these 50 other filters. Unfortunately, I was proud of this design, and I don’t want to add 50 filters to it. I’m going to show you a way to still provide access to those 50 filters. And it’s actually going to look pretty nice. But we’re not going to muddy up this view.

To start with, I’m going to create a new worksheet. And I’ll call this my Global Filters. And we’re going to add all of the filters to this sheet. To add a filter to a sheet, at least one thing, one dimension or one measure, so one field, has to be on the sheet. Well, I don’t really want to use this to analyze anything. So I’m going to show you a little trick to add something without really adding something, or adding a field that’s actually in your data set.

I’m just going to double-click on the Marks Shelf and type two tick marks and click Enter. And we just created a blank dimension. And because our mark type was Shape or Square, we see a blue square.

To make this invisible, I can change the mark type from Square to Text. And if I wanted to really make it invisible, I could change that text or throw this on the Color Marks Card and make it white. There’s a couple of ways to do that. But now it’s really invisible.

At this point, I can start to add filters to it. So we saw there were five filters. Let me just pick out a couple of extra ones. I’ll show the Customer Name filter. I’ll show the Segment filter. Let’s see. We’ll allow them to see whether or not the items were returned, and the shipping mode. I’m just going to pick four filters for the purposes of illustration, but you could literally have this sheet with 50 filters on it if you wanted to.

This authoring interface is WYSIWYG, meaning I can drag and drop these wherever I want. So I could actually make this Global Filters tab look pretty nice. I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this video formatting this for you. But you can align these a little bit better. You could change the filter type.

So Customer Name, for example, has a very long list of dimension members. So I could change that to maybe a wildcard. Or let’s do multiple values custom list, which just condenses that filter into a smaller area there.

Maybe I’ll make this one a multiple values dropdown. This one could be a single value dropdown. You get the idea. But you could polish this up, clean it as much as you want.

The most important thing is once all of your filters are on this Global Filters tab, you’ll want to make sure all of the filters are, in fact, global. So we’re going to apply these four filters to the data source, Sample Superstore. You can do that by clicking on each of the filters, hovering over Apply to Worksheets, and choosing All Using This Data Source.

So Customer Name is now global at the data source level. That’s what this canister icon indicates. I’ll do the same thing for Segment and the same thing for Returned. I’m just going to make sure that’s at all by default. And the same thing for Shipping Mode. All right, so these are all global now.

I’m going to go back to my Super Descriptive view. And we shouldn’t see anything change at this point. And we don’t. So so far so good.

What we’re going to do now is add that Global Filters sheet to the view. So I’ll make this floating and drag this onto the view. And we see all of our filters appear. But we want to actually get rid of all those, because again, our goal is to not muddy up the view.

So we’ve got the sheet here. And there’s a couple of things we could do with this. Remember when we set up the Global Filter sheet, I made it invisible. But one of the options is to change the text so that it looks like a button. Another option for you is you could change the mark type to Shape and map a certain shape so it literally looks like a button. So there’s some flexibility in how you design this Global Filters button.

The easiest one for the purposes of illustration here is just to change the text. So instead of coloring this white, I’m going to drag that little blank dimension I put together off of the Color Marks Card. And I’m going to put this on the Text Marks Card instead. Once something is on the Text Marks Card, I can click on the Text Marks Card and click this ellipsis and type whatever I want into this little word processor.

So in this case, I’ll say, ‘Go to Global Filters Tab’, and maybe an arrow next to it. And maybe I’ll make this look like a blue hyperlink. So I’ll change the color to blue, underline it, so that it looks like a hyperlink. I’ll click OK.

Now if I go back to my dashboard, you can see this coming together. I’ll make this fit my entire view. So we’ve just added a sheet. And it says whatever text I typed into that Text Marks Card.

You can align this wherever you want. I’ll probably put this just below my last filter so that when they look through the five filters that are available to them and if they don’t see what they want, they’ve got this button, Go to Global Filters Tab.

The last thing we need to do here is add a dashboard action that takes the user from this button to the Global Filters sheet so they can make some changes. I’m going to click Dashboard in the top navigation and click Actions. We’re going to add a new action. And the action is going to be a Go to Sheet action. So I’ll click that.

I’m going to deselect every single sheet except for the Global Filters sheet. You can easily do that by clicking the first sheet, navigating to the last sheet, holding down the Shift key while you click the last sheet. This selects the first sheet, the last sheet, and everything in between. I will then deselect, which selects every single sheet, find my Global Filters tab, and click just that sheet. So this is the only worksheet on the entire dashboard that this dashboard action will activate for.

We’ll have it run on Select, which is synonymous with click. That’s fine with me. And for target sheet, we’re going to have it navigate to the Global Filters sheet. Click OK. Click OK. You don’t see anything change yet.

But now if my end user is looking at this dashboard, they don’t like just the five options and they want to go to the Global Filters tab, they can click this button. It navigates them to that sheet. They could make some changes. Maybe they just want to look at Standard Class.

Because these are global filters, now when I go back to the dashboard, we should see some things change. And we do. You saw some holes in my map now, because not every single state had that particular type of shipping. We saw all of our KPIs change a little bit there. But again, I love this technique, because it’s the perfect balance of giving the end user what they want without having to muddy up your nice, focused, minimalist design.

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