Tableau Dashboard Layout Containers - How to make them work every time

Written by Anoop Odedra
Wednesday 12 August, 2020

When creating dashboards in Tableau Desktop, many of us use Layout Containers to arrange our objects in a neat and lined up, but find the topic of containers confusing and mystifying. 

In my role as a trainer, I often hear of the frustration that Tableau users have with these objects when building your own dashboards. I personally love layout containers to line all my objects up and I have found a way to make sure my objects and worksheets are going into the correct layout container EVERY SINGLE TIME!

Want in on the secret? Click more to learn how...

Using Layout Containers in Tableau

 

Before I start let me just say that I use a Tiled approach to building my dashboards. For me that is easier but I totally get that it doesn't work for everyone. The technique that I am going to describe and show can however be used for both Tiled and Floating containers so it doesn't matter too much which is your preference.

So let's start with planning your dashboard. This is a step that is often overlooked, it is a step that I ALWAYS recommend when delivering training as it can help you with a number of things:

  • Define your audience - who is going to be viewing and consuming my dashboard? Which device type will they be using to access the dashboard?
  • Define the purpose - what is the expected action to be taken from the data on my dashboard? What is the question being answered? What is the most important piece of information? How will my audience read and interact with the dashboard?
  • Layout - Which worksheets and objects do I want on the dashboard? Is there a corporate style guide that I can use to help my audience navigate my dashboard? Where will I be placing the selected worksheets?

I would suggest sketching the dashboard out. It will help you to visualise how your dashboard could look and whether there is too much on it and whether it is meeting the requirements.

image0-1

 

The purpose isn't to have a work of art, just an idea of how the screen will look. From my example above we can see that there are  4 main zones to consider:

  • Zone 1 - Filters & Legends - this is automatically placed in a layout container on the right hand side of the dashboard in Tableau
  • Zone 2 - My top row of charts (top 5, map and line)
  • Zone 3 - My bottom row of charts (tree map and highlight table)
  • Zone 4 - My Title, BANS & Sparklines, Zone 2 and Zone 3 all vertically stacked.

I am going to use Layout Containers to create a similar layout in Tableau. 

The containers I want to use are:

  • Zone 1 - Vertical Layout Container
  • Zone 2 - Horizontal Layout Container
  • Zone 3 - Horizontal Layout Container
  • Zone 4 - Vertical Layout Container.

 

Getting Started with Layout Containers

 

I have recorded a quick gif to show you how I go about creating this dashboard. Below the video I have explained my steps.

Layout Containers

I know I want my title showing so I will check the "Show Dashboard Title" box.

When bringing my containers in, I always start that the highest level, in this case Zone 4 so will start by dragging in a vertical layout container. Into this first layout container I place 2 text boxes titled "Top" and "Bottom". These are placeholders so I can place other layout containers between.

Next I bring in my Zone 2 horizontal layout container, placing my 3 worksheets within it.

Then, I bring in my Zone 3 layout container and place all of the worksheets within that.

Lastly, bring in the BANs and Sparklines. When building the views the best way was to use separate worksheets for the sparklines which are all placed within a horizontal layout container with the BANs in a worksheet above them. 

There you go, a finished working dashboard with layout containers broken down into an easy way to build so you no longer are searching for where to drop the next object being brought in.

Here is the finished article published to Tableau Public if you wanted to take a look:

If you have any thoughts, comments or questions, feel free to reach out to us. If you are interested in attending one of our many training courses that we deliver, click on the button below and we will be more than happy to help. 

In the mean time, happy vizzing!

 

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