Tableau Tips: Using custom icons and shapes in Tableau.
Updated: Apr 29
The Tableau tips series has always been about the small hacks which significantly impact dashboard building process if well implemented. If you’ve been following our work, you know by now that this article is inspired by our last week article on building a Lollipop chart in Tableau. Our goal is to explore ways in which external shapes and images can be used in dashboard development rather than the standard shapes provided by Tableau.
Using data set in the snap shot below, we will create a Lollipop chart like in the previous post, however instead of using the standard shapes provided by Tableau, we’ll use external shapes (flags shapes to be precise) to spice up our viz.
You can create a sample of data set above in an excel sheet or download the data here to follow along.
(Our assumption is that by now you know how to create a Lollipop chart, and therefore we won’t be revisiting our previous article. However, for those who would like to revisit kindly check here.)
Step 1: Create a simple Lollipop chart
Guided by the previous article, use the data set shared above to create the Lollipop chart below.
(Note; In this case, we’ve used a circle as our shape for the second chart. But, now we would like to substitute the circle shapes with flags representing each country for our data set.)
Step 2: Download flag shapes
Open the site, flaticon.com and search for flags. Download flag shapes related to the data.
For this case, i have downloaded the following flag shapes.
Step 3: Load flag shapes to Tableau
To do this, go to documents on your local machine, open a folder named My Tableau Repository >> Shapes. Inside this folder, create a new folder and name it Flags and copy all the shapes downloaded to this folder.
Step 4: Use flag shapes in our viz
To effect this, first select the second chart of the viz and drag the dimension field Country to the Shape tab, see results below.
On the legend that appears on the right corner, double click one of the icons to edit shape.
Note that, when you open the drop-down arrow under ‘Select Shape Palette’ our folder named Flags cannot be Traced.
To load our shapes, click on ‘Reload Shapes’. Note that our custom shapes are now appearing in the Shape Palette.
Now, match every data item with the right flag shape.
As simple as that. This chart does not add any additional metric other than what is presented in Step 1, however it helps developers add the visual element of interpreting charts and graphs. As a user, you don’t need to read the chart rather you can interpret it by looking at the various images presented.
Note; same procedure can be used when adding other useful icons in dashboards like information icon among other icons.
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