What Tableau 8.2 Maps Mean for the UK
Tableau are on the verge of releasing Desktop & Server 8.2 to the world with many new features including the PowerPoint killer (my opinion…open for debate) Story Points, updated connection experience and dedicated Mac build. For those of you who use and enjoy Tableau’s single click mapping capability you will also be interested to hear that the background maps have had a complete refresh. Some of the main updates were recently posted by Mike Klaczynski of Tableau but lets take a look at what these changes mean for the end user and especially those of us in the UK.
Totally New Platform
Tableau 8.2 maps haven’t just been tweaked, they’re being provided by a completely different server platform. Until recently the delivery of the background mapping function was provided by Urban Mapping including the boundary, label and data layers. Along with help from the mapping specialists Stamen, Tableau have taken their map servers completely in-house in that Tableau fully control a cluster of map servers distributed around the world.
“Bringing our map servers under our control means we can ensure that the mapping function of Tableau is fast, easy & beautiful. End users can expect to see more frequent updates than ever before.”
Chris Stolte, CDO & Co-founder, Tableau Software
A Refreshed Look
So what does this mean for your dashboards? Before we take a look at some screenshots let’s first look at how you switch between the various mapping flavours. It’s worth noting at this point that this post is written based on Tableau Desktop 8.2 beta 6, it does not guarantee how the final release will look, nor is guaranteed to be 100% accurate. We will update the post when the final version lands as necessary.
To alter your background map there’s a slight change in terminology:
Notice we have lost the ‘Online’ background map which has been replaced by ‘Tableau Classic’ and ‘Tableau’. Now using Tableau Classic doesn’t send you back to the Urban Mapping servers, that link has completely been removed. Instead Tableau Classic points to the new servers but are styled to closely match the 8.1 background maps. Using the ‘Tableau’ background is a great choice however as we’ll see this is where the new beauty comes into play.
Notice the land changes to a grey tone with a grey-green water colour. A change we’ll see throughout the styles for the ‘Tableau’ map are the labels have vanished for England, Wales and Scotland. Only the United Kingdom is labelled in order to clean up the background image and leave as much space untouched for data. The labels are also subject to word wrapping, which although doesn’t reduce the number of pixels taken up by the label does produce a much cleaner background.
In the grey (or light style as it’s now known in 8.2) we find the coastline border has been disabled by default (but can be enabled via Map Options). Again the theme seems to be the removal of ink to leave as much room for the data-driven pixels as possible.
You’re going to be squinting to see the difference between these maps but unlike the other two styles the 8.2 dark map sees more of the background light up with population centres easier to distinguish.
Can Roads Really be Beautiful?
Thinned out, light, squared off labels that don’t look ugly and even the use of no colour (white) all attribute to the information you need without getting in the way of the information you’ve created.
Get to the UK Already!
What, were screenshots of my beloved North Yorkshire not enough? OK I get it, what if you don’t know where North Yorkshire is? For just under a year now Tableau users around the world have been discovering the mapping resource tableaumapping.bi To put some numbers to it there’s over 130 views of the site every single day, and we’ve seen more then 2,200 downloads of polygon datasets. Seems somebody at Tableau took notice because now we have……COUNTIES!! Or to be more precise Counties, Unitary Authorities & Local Authority Districts. Basically the polygon dataset you can find here
Now when you get a hold of Tableau 8.2 you will go to Map Options, scroll down and say “wait…where’s my counties?” Hopefully this is just temporary to allow for existing workbooks to be upgraded with ease but as of beta 6 the UK counties layer is called “US County Borders” and “US County Names”
Now being Brits I know this will cause some tension but please don’t do anything brash like take to Twitter or un-like Tableau on Facebook. Instead remember your ‘being British’ handbook. Calmly take out a postcard, document your complaint and send it to:
Tableau Software Mapping Feedback
837 North 34th Street, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98103
Make me Happy Again
Now us Brits have sufficiently vented our anger in an assertive but proper way it’s time to do something cool, perhaps your first Jedi mapping trick. Let’s remove the copyright text from the background map!
WARNING! If you start distributing your workbooks or publishing your work you may be infringing copyright if you don’t attribute the map tiles to the correct source. I don’t know, I’m not a legal expert!
I am however a Tableau expert…so here’s how you do it.
In your Tableau installation directory…
[64 bit] C:Program FilesTableauTableau 8.2
[32 bit] C:Program Files (x86)TableauTableau 8.2
You’ll find a MapSources folder and in that folder a TMS file called Tableau
Make 2 copies of the Tableau.tms file, one as a backup to a safe place, your My Document perhaps and the other for editing, to your Desktop for instance. Now open the Tableau.tms file for editing with any text editor (I like Notepad++) & scroll down to the very bottom to find the line:
<map-attribution copyright-string=”© OpenStreetMap contributors” copyright-url=”http://openstreetmap.org/copyright” short-copyright-string=”© OSM”/>
Remove the contents of the string values so the line looks like:
<map-attribution copyright-string=”” copyright-url=”” short-copyright-string=””/>
Save the file and replace the original in the MapSources folder (you’ll likely need admin rights on your local machine to do so).
Hopefully if everything’s worked as expected you’ll find you go from this:
It’s worth noting you can only do this with Tableau 8.2 not 8.1, the change is only local to Tableau Desktop on your machine, you can make the same change on Server but Tableau Public will put the copyright back when publishing from Desktop and finally your good work will likely be undone each time you upgrade Tableau Desktop & Server.