Keeping the Float

When designing a Tableau dashboard you are faced with two options to lay down your charts: Tiles and Float.

For me when I need to quickly build a dashboard I go with Tiles. But more recently I am trying to focus on the design aspects of dashboarding and for that Float is giving me the kind of flexibility that is very cumbersome when using Tiles and their layout containers.

I just finished to put together a dashboard that has 28 sheets and at least 100 objects. But what are these “objects”? These are every single element you places in your Tableau canvas when building a dashboard, for example, sheets, images, text, filter boxes, highlight boxes, color legends, etc.

What I’ve learned with this dashboard is that a good housekeeping of your objects will make your work simpler to maintain as it goes to the constant and annoying argh iterations with specialists, managers, people that have no idea of they are talking about, communicators, etc. This can really save you a lot of time when you need to locate and rearrange objects around after the feedback that you received.

Let’s take one part of the dashboard (and pardon my Spanish):

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 23.37.48

This chart is basically composed by several objects:

  • a two line text
  • two family icons (from author abeldb of Noun Project)
  • two text elements below each icon
  • two 1 px horizontal/vertical containers for the lines between the icons and the texts
  • a line chart
  • a text next to a drop down filter

I had to move this chart around my dashboard several times during the initial design. Before I did my housekeeping I had to carefully click each element and then adjust the x and y position for them. Well, but you have a mouse, what is the problem of clicking an object? Well, try clicking a 1px line and I bet you that you will miss it a lot (miss = waste of time).

That’s when I took more attention to the “Objects” pane on the Layout tab of the Dashboard screen. I’ve noticed that these elements were all around, without following any specific kind of order:

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 23.46.56

Note that the after the text box that starts with B) (the selected one) I have the UNIPERSONAL and PAREJA NUCLEAR text boxes, then a Horizontal and Vertical containers, a country filter and the sheet for the timeline. But where is the text box that starts with “composición”? As this text was added later in the design it was placed among the other +100 elements (argh).

So I took a long breath and started to organize the objects following almost the exact order they appear on the dashboard (top to down). And here is how it looks now:

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 23.53.12

Once the objects are organized I don’t even need to look at the items within the dashboard to move them around. Really, I was able to be much more effective by selecting the objects and editing their Position properties at the top. If I wanted to move them 100px to the top, I just had to select, one by one (argh), and reduce 100px to each y field value.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 23.57.06

Now I am ready to be much efficient on changing the dashboard! Yes but…

Object Grouping (PLEASE!)

Dear Tableau, please help us floaters to enjoy even more our dashboarding experience by adding Object Groups to the Layout tab. I understand that multi-selecting objects is tricky (after all each one has a specific position) but if you allow us to group them all together then BOOM we will be able to move them all at once!

I promise I will buy you a box of chocolates when this is set and done!

Yours truly,


If you also think this is something that can help your life vote for it in the Tableau Ideas forum >





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s