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Using the 'Please Select' Filter in Tableau

Written by Damien Arazi
Monday 30 December, 2020

Recently, one of our colleagues reported a very interesting “feature” around filters. He had a client that wanted his user to follow a strict analytical pathway.

First, select your filters. Then consume the results. We have encountered this type of request every now and then, especially with more complex data.

One of the request was that the filter shouldn’t have any preselected values. This can be solved in a few different ways:

  • Creating dummy data in your database
  • Create a blank sheet to simulate empty data
  • And many different approaches

The client came up with a simple approach with the added benefit of a nice effect on the final filter selection window:

We immediately recognized how brilliant this idea is, and we thought we would share this idea with the Tableau community.

Let’s first discuss the “how”:

  • Select any dimension you would like to use as filter

  • Select “Custom Value List” and add “Please Select” to the list

  • Once you have applied the filter, you will need to show your filter

  • This is what it will look like

  • The last step is to change this filter to a Single Value (dropdown) menu

  • DONE!

Let’s discuss some advantages:

  • You are forcing the user to select a value, the dashboard will be blank since the value “Please Select” doesn’t exist in your data
  • High control of the analytical pathway of your users
  • Performance will be amazing! The reason is the same as above: you are filtering on a value that isn’t available in your data, so the view loads instantaneously

Conclusion:

While this isn’t a revolutionary technique, it’s a clever and useful one to add to your Tableau toolkit.