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Communicating Data with Tableau by Ben Jones

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Chapter 12. The Joy of Dashboards

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients.”

Julia Child

If we compare communicating data with cooking, then what we’ve covered so far in this book amounts to a course on individual ingredients. Just as a master chef knows how to combine ingredients to serve up a meal, so an expert communicator of data can mix different charts, graphs, and tables to deliver a multifaceted message.

The analogy to a meal in this context is known as a dashboard. In this chapter, we’ll consider different types and styles of dashboards, and we’ll outline key factors to consider before creating them for consumption.

But first, it’s important that we distinguish between two different, but related meanings of the word:

A data dashboard

A single display that combines multiple data visualizations, tables, text, and figures to give a multifaceted view of a subject.

Dashboards in Tableau

One of two tab types (the other type is a Sheet) that allows users to combine one or more Sheets with other objects—such as text, images, and web pages—into a single display.

The first definition is a general term describing how data is shared, and the second relates specifically to Tableau. The main difference between the two is that a data dashboard always involves multiple views in the same display, while a Dashboard in Tableau doesn’t necessarily include multiple views (though it often does).

In other words, it’s possible to create a Tableau Dashboard ...

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