Dynamic Dashboard Titles

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012

SNAGHTML1caadfAs with any document, putting a title on your dashboard is the best way to quickly express context to your audience. Tableau makes this really easy using it’s usual drag and drop interaction from the ‘Objects’ menu.

But what makes a good title? After all a dashboard is dynamic in nature with its content changing all the time and the reason for a title is to express the current content. What if you print out the dashboard or want to drop it onto a presentation slide and its state is no longer described by the title?

You’ve got two options, either make the title a vague, high level description or make it dynamic so it reflects the dashboard content. In fact as we’re about to see deciding to make it dynamic gives you three ways to inject dynamic content using parameters, filter values and/or calculated fields.

Dashboard Title Object

imageThe most simple method of creating a dynamic title is to drag the native dashboard title object onto your dashboard. In the editor window you’ll have the option to insert parameter values which, if used across views as a filter, can be a really quick and effective way of creating your dynamic title (if you’re not sure about using parameters check out this training video). For instance using the parameter ‘Top Customers’ in the predefined superstore sales connection we might choose to title our dashboard ‘Top 10 Customer Sale History’.

To do this you;

  1. start by typing the static content ‘Top ‘ (notice the trailing space),
  2. click the ‘Insert’ menu and select the parameter you want to insert,
  3. complete the title.

In this example you’ll end up with something looking like: Top <Parameters.Top Customers> Customer Sale History. As the end user changes the parameter value (assuming you’ve made it available to them on the dashboard) the title will update…simple! See the Libor viz for a great example of using the title object.

The title object does have some limitations though. As it’s not associated with a worksheet you can’t insert either filter values or calculated fields. You also can’t insert dynamic values based on dashboard actions as these are also filters tied to worksheets.

Using a Worksheet Title

If you’re looking to do your first Tableau ‘hack’ this is a great one to start with. To get around dashboard titles not being associated with a worksheet why not just use the worksheet title and format it to look like a dashboard title (make it big & bold)? Of course this will only work if you have a primary sheet positioned across the top of your dashboard but, like the dashboard title object, is a really quick solution.

SNAGHTMLb09b58To use a worksheet title;

  1. drag and drop your worksheet onto the dashboard,
  2. double click on the sheet’s title (default is the sheet name e.g. Sheet 1),
  3. again fill in the title with a mixture of static and dynamic content (e.g. <Order Priority> Priority Sales Dashboard),
  4. you’ll probably want to get rid of the grey title background to make it look like a normal title. Go to ‘Dashboard’ –> ‘Format’ and change the subtitle shading option to ‘None’.

imageYou should notice the insert menu this time has a whole bunch of new options. Some of the key ones to look out for when creating a dashboard title are:

  • Data Update Time – shows when the worksheet’s data connection was last updated (only really useful if there’s one connection)
  • Page Name – if all worksheets are using the same paging dimension you can insert the name of the current page
  • Full Name – using a user filter with Tableau Server to personalise a dashboard? Stick the user’s name in (also available in dashboard Title object)
  • All Parameters – just like a normal dashboard title you can insert a parameter value
  • Active Fields – dimensions and measures in play including those in quick filters, dashboard actions and level of detail. Again the filter and actions must apply to that worksheet in order to become available

So what’s great about this method? It’s quick, all the fields you’re likely to need are right there at your fingertips, Tableau does all the heavy lifting of converting multiple selections into a comma separated list as well as returning the ‘All’ value when needed, and it take no more work than your usual dashboard action as the title will always represent the data shown.

Not so good? You’re constrained in how you layout the dashboard, the fields you want to insert may not be applicable to the view or may even be in second unblended connection, there may be an action which you want to apply to the view but not the title, and did I mention constrained?…Not very Tableau!

Which leads me to my final method;

Creating a Custom Title Worksheet

Do you consider yourself a perfectionist or just a really picky Tableau author? This method’s for you. After all your title is one of the most important parts of the dashboard, why shouldn’t it get its own worksheet just like everything else?

Unlike the others you can’t really do this one right at the last minute. To get started;

  1. create a blank worksheet and a new calculated field, I usually use the naming convention ‘Lbl Title’ to show that this is for use as a label and not a regular dimension.
  2. You’re going to use the concatenate ‘+’ function quite a lot along with strings enclosed in single or double quotes .
  3. Construct your title exactly how you want using strings, dimensions and measures. To convert measures into strings use the STR( ) function.
  4. Drop this calculated field onto the text shelf.
  5. Select your dashboard and drag the new view onto it, hide the worksheet title and format the text & borders to make it look like a title.
  6. Customise the dashboard actions so the title responds to selected data.

Talking through all the possibilities of custom titles would take forever and I need to bring this post to a close so instead here’s a really customised view-based title on Tableau Public. Download it and take a look.

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If you know of other interesting examples please post a link in the comments box below.

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