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Tableau top tips: optimizing dashboard space using sheet and field parameters

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Space on your Tableau dashboard is valuable, where often a single visualisation is not enough to answer the key business questions you are addressing. Instead of splitting your analysis across multiple dashboards, you can use parameters to give users more flexibility in what they see, without necessarily giving them access to underlying data or edit rights. There are two main options for doing this:

  1. Field swapping – allow the user to toggle between different measures or dimensions being used in a single worksheet.
  1. Sheet swapping – allow the user to change the nature of the visualisation itself (by selecting what sheet is shown on the dashboard) without introducing disjointed navigation across multiple dashboards.

In this blog, I will illustrate how to use parameters to select between both fields and sheets, by walking you through two detailed examples. These examples use the famous EU Superstore training dataset, which refers to individual sales, profit and quantity of products (and where data can be split across segment and category fields).

A Short Guide to Field Swapping

When should we use it?

Dynamically swapping fields on a view is an excellent way of analysing different dimensions or measures where the mark (chart type) is the same for two worksheets (as shown in Figure 1 below) without the need to dedicate space to otherwise similar charts.

Tableau dashboard - executive overview of profitability

How do we do it?

  1. Create the parameter for your swapping field.
  1. Create a calculated field which we can add to the row or column shelf.

Field swapping – a practical example

The Sales by Product and the Sales by Segment worksheets in the Overview dashboard have identical marks but are split differently in the rows tab (by category and segment dimensions respectively). Creating a field parameter will allow the dimensions to swap on selection, eliminating the need for two worksheets and save space.

1. Create the parameter for your swapping field

In the product view worksheet,

Select Field

2. Create a calculated field which we can add to the row or column shelf

Now show the field swapping parameter in the Overview dashboard. Changing the value in the parameter drop-down now alters the field used to split out the view. The Product by Segment worksheet is now redundant in the Overview dashboard and can be removed, freeing up space.

Field swapping parameter

You can use field parameters for more advanced uses than this set-up. Examples include:

A Short Guide to Sheet Swapping

When should we use it?

If we want to view two worksheets that have different marks (i.e. chart types) in the same space, we use a sheet swapping parameter in preference to a field swapping parameter. The sheet swapping parameter will collapse the worksheet that it is not selected. For this example, you need to remove the Sales by Segment worksheet and then add the Product Details worksheet to the Overview dashboard, (as shown below in Figure 5)

Overview dashboard - executive overview showing sales and profit by product names

How do we do it?

  1. Create your sheet swapping parameter and apply it to your first worksheet.
  1. Create your calculated field which your visualisation swap sheets by.
  1. Apply your parameter to the second worksheet.
  1. Make the sheets collapse using layout containers
  1. Create the dynamic title.

Sheet Swapping – a practical example

1. Create your sheet swapping parameter

Sheet parameter

2. Create your calculated field which your visualisation will filter by

Sheet swapping calculation

3. Apply your parameter to the second worksheet

Now both the Product Details and Product by Category worksheets will expand and disappear depending on the parameter selection.

4. Set up a suitable dashboard layout containers and format worksheets


On the Overview dashboard, we need to get the sheets to collapse correctly when not selected. To do this:

Sheet parameter with titles

You may notice now we do not have a title! All is not lost. We can make a dynamic title which will change with the parameter selection.

5. Make a dynamic title

The title text now swaps on parameter selection.

Dynamic title

Now you have a working sheet swapping parameter which has freed up space on the dashboard. You now have space to add additional analysis to the Overview dashboard. You can now add the Product View worksheet to the Overview dashboard (as shown below).

FIGURE 11: THE COMPLETE VIEW WITH ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS IN A SINGLE DASHBOARD

By following the steps in this blog you should now be able to optimise space on your dashboard by using parameters to enable sheet swapping and field swapping. 

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Concentra’s analytics and business intelligence teams turn information into insight to give you the edge from your data. Learn more.