Tableau Tips: Working with Parameters.
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
This week’s article on Tableau tips is a special one, why is so? Because in this article and the next four articles or so, we’ll be exploring one of the most useful features in dashboard designing called Parameter. Parameter? Yes parameter, which is defined as any value that is passed to a program in order to customize that program for a particular use. Such a value could be a text, number, date or any other character which may not be present in your data. In a nutshell, parameter empowers developers by giving them control over how certain tasks are executed, and even more enabling them to solve common design problems encountered when using features like filters.
So, if you’ve been following the Tableau tips series, I would suggest that this article and the next articles on use of parameters is a never miss piece, reason being in your journey of dashboard designing this ‘animal’ parameter will always be a safe haven for you.
How do I create this Parameter?
The Tableau interface is always intuitive and easier to use, and for that reason creating a parameter is just a click away. And there are different ways to do that too. While at the data pane window, creating a parameter could be as follows.
Right click on any data field (dimension or measure) within the data pane window.
Create >> Parameter…
On the data pane window, open the drop-down menu at the top.
In the dialog box select >> Create Parameter…
'Create Parameter' dialog box that appears allows users to do the following;
Rename the parameter.
Choose the data type of the parameter.
Select allowable values and list values either by entering them or adding/setting values from the data fields.
Selecting display format of values.
Note, when this is executed, our parameter will appear at the bottom of the data pane window. To show our parameter;
Right click on the field.
Select ‘Show Parameter Control’.
Now, our hypothetical parameter is complete, and appears on the top right corner of the screen. We can now use it in our dashboards.
So, now our parameter is through, I known the question lingering in your mind is how do I use this parameter in my dashboard?
Hold on, because I need us to tackle different ways we can use parameters in dashboard designing case by case. I would suggest you do a recap of this article by learning how you can use other data types, other than the String data type we have demonstrated in this example. Try even adding/setting fields from the data itself.
The next series of articles will explore how we can apply this parameter within a set of data. But, just to give you some ideas; bins, calculated fields, filters, reference lines and Table calculations are some of operations we can use parameters. Stay tuned for the next article where we will explore how to use parameters with bins.
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Thank you for reading.