Tableau Tips: Nested sorting not as expected- a simple fix

Many students have been confused about the Tableau data sort behavior.   A common question is how to sort the data at a lower level correctly within each higher level of data in a view.   One student recently came to us with this view and asked, “What’s up? I thought it would sort each state independently within each Product Type! In the first group, Herbal Tea, Nevada is clearly number one yet it is shown in the fourth position.”





I replied that Tableau was sorting State overall across every product type once for the entire table and then displaying this sort order for every Product Type.   She said this is “stupid, how can I fix it! I wasted hours trying to fix it already.”

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Exercises and videos for Rapid Graphs with Tableau 8

RGTS8_433If you are interested in buying the book, please follow this link.

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Webinar—What can visual analytics & big data do for you?

What can visual analytics & big data do for you? In this 45 minute webinar, Stephen McDaniel will review visual analytic examples and demonstrate what big data analytics can do for you. Stephen will demonstrate this using Tableau 8. Visual analytics- how is it different than traditional analytics? Review several examples and how they empower … Read more

SAS versus R for business analysts

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Over on R4Stats, I replied to Bob Muenchen’s article, Forecast Update: Will 2014 be the Beginning of the End for SAS and SPSS?

Personally, I think SAS is a wonderful application, with my SAS experience starting in SAS programming back in 1989 (mainframes, along with Fortran), SAS Enterprise Guide (I wrote SAS for Dummies, the first two editions with Chris Hemedinger) and SAS Enterprise Miner.   Additionally, I have used JMP, SAS Data Integration Studio, SAS Forecast Studio and several other SAS tools.

On the other hand, I have used R since 2004 on several projects and S (precursor to R) since the 90’s in biopharm. I find R truer to being a modern programming language while SAS is truer to being an analyst programming language. Perhaps I am biased? But, the way I think of attacking problems with data and my typical need to massage the data in a wide range of ways, SAS is simply superior in my opinion. The flow of the language, the ease of readability and the powerful DATA step are still my favorite programming world. However, if I am seeking most any statistical test under the sun, R is clearly superior.

Unfortunately, R doesn’t have a clear, de-facto GUI (graphical user interface) that is well-designed

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Joyful or informative charts? Best practices in visual analytics

Small_packed_bubble_chartStephen Few, noted visual analytics expert and the original inspiration for our work in the field, recently wrote about criticisms of best data visualizations practices. In particular, Amanda Cox of the New York Times said, “There’s a strand of the data viz world that argues that everything could be a bar chart. That’s possibly true but also possibly a world without joy.” And Nathan Yau of Flowing Data wrote, “in visualization you eventually learn that there’s more to the process than efficient graphical perception and avoidance of all things round. Design matters, no doubt, but your understanding of the data matters much more.” These are both people who have a body of work that I admire but I am also surprised at these comments.

This discussion reminds me of a similar problem in marketing and web analytics. Generating traffic that leads to sales is good. Eventually, someone finds a way to generate traffic that leads to not many new sales, but management is misled to think this must be good since traffic leads to sales. This is similar to “look, this chart is beautiful“, but hard to interpret or understand. So, while we delivered fun graphs, minimal information is shared. This may be good for traffic, but not so much for higher sales.

I suspect that part of this recent criticism can be traced back to Stephen’s recent criticism of Tableau, “Tableau Veers from the Path“. In it, he mentions a new graph type in Tableau, packed bubble charts and contrasts them with bar charts. This is an example of the “avoidance of all things circular”. Is Stephen truly anti-joy@f16 Will an example show him to be wrong@f17 Let’s give it a try and you can judge for yourself.

Here’s a packed bubble chart example

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