• Bernard

Creating Animated Visualizations in Tableau


A viz animation helps you see and understand data as it changes. By putting your data in motion highly impacts your data analysis, presentation and storytelling work – creating animations can engage users in ways other visualization types may not be able to. Animation can help users see the transition from one state to the next – enabling users easily track changes as part of visualization move from one position to another.

A very good example of an animated viz is in this presentation by Hans Rosling a professor of international health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, and the founder of Gapminder. (In this example, Hans explores data on fertility rate versus life expectancy – revealing trends not easily depictable in static visualizations)

So, how do I animate a viz in Tableau?

You animate vizzes in Tableau by dropping the relevant dimensions in the pages shelf - and with the help of the animation feature introduced in Tableau 2020.1 customize your animations.

In Tableau you can animate a variety of vizzes ranging from line to bar charts to circle/bubble charts etc.

In this post, I’ll explore two separate examples on how to create and animate vizzes.

Animating - Circles

In this example, I explore data on Life expectancy at birth against the number of live births per woman and Population – across the globe according to UNdata. The data runs between 1950 -2100 – with part of the data based on projections.

Download data here

Building the view;

  • Drag measure fields Life expectant and Fertility rate to the row and columns shelf respectively.

  • Drag dimension ‘Country or Area’ to the detail shelf –or alternatively uncheck ‘aggregated measures’ under the analytics menu.

  • Choose circles under marks card.

  • Drag dimension ‘Country or Area’ to the color shelf.

  • Drag measure field ‘Estimated Population’ to the Size shelf.

  • Lastly – drag dimension ‘Year’ to the Pages shelf to animated your viz

Note: Under format menu you can access ‘Annotations...’ and use it in customizing your animation.

Executing this and playing it we've;

Animating - Bars (Bar chart race)

In this second example, I’ll be using the same UNdata above – to create a bar chart race showing Life expectancy for different countries between 1950 – 2100.

Creating the view;

  • Drag SUM(Life expectant) to the columns shelf

  • Add dimension ‘Country or Area’ to the label and color shelf

  • Create a calculated field ‘Rank’ as shown below.

(Ensure the calculation is computed along ‘Country or Area’)

  • Drag this calculation Rank to the row shelf and change it to discrete

  • Add dimension Year to the Pages shelf and turn on animation under Format menu

Executing this and playing it we’ve;

How to add animations in your Tableau public vizzes

For odd published vizzes, you can add animations in the following;

  • Sign into your profile

  • Click on the viz you want to turn on the animations

  • Click edit to edit the viz in the browser

  • Go to Format > Animations… > turn it On

  • Save your viz and close

Parting shot!!

Animations are simple to create yet their impact in data storytelling is immeasurable. With Tableau public supporting this feature – means you can begin right now - by changing how you look at data and present your reports.

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Thank you for reading.