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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 9, 2016

What to do when so many people get it wrong

The Makeover Monday project, started by Andy Kriebel and Andy Cotgreave, is now one of the biggest community projects in data visualization. By the end of 2016 there were over 3,000 submissions and 2017 began with record-breaking numbers, with over 100 makeovers in the first week. We are big fans of this project and it’s because of the project’s tremendous success and our love and respect for the two Andys (and now Eva Murray) that we feel compelled to write this post.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 31, 2016

2016 - A Year in Review

It's been a fantastic and very busy year. A big thanks to all the readers of this blog. It's hard to believe that the year is over, but looking back is always fun. Here's a few highlights for 2016.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 24, 2016

Tableau Tips - Volume 8 "10 Tips for a Rainy Day Viz"

This installment of Tableau Tips focuses on tips used in creating a Rainy Day Viz.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 18, 2016

Tableau Tips - Volume 7 "Walking the Lines"

This installment of Tableau Tips focuses on tips for creating reference lines, average lines, constant lines and trend lines in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 26, 2016

Viz: All Music Was Once New

A visualization showing a very small sample of my music collection, done in the style of Gregorian Chant Notation.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 20, 2016

Tableau Tips - Volume 6 "Map Tips"

This installment of Tableau Tips focuses on tips for creating different map styles in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 2, 2016

How To Create a Bar Chart on a Map in Tableau

A step by step for building bar charts and stacked bar charts on a map in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 29, 2016

How To Recreate a Pew Research Center Chart in Tableau

A step by step for recreating a Pew Research Center chart in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 27, 2016

Tableau Tips Volume 5

This is the fifth installment of Tableau Tips, offering a few simple tips and tricks in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 22, 2016

Building the International Space Station Tracker Using JSON and Tableau Javascript API

A few weeks ago I created a viz that tracks the position of the International Space Station using a live JSON feed and the Tableau Javascript API. In this post, I will walk through the steps in building this visualization. This requires a bit of coding, HTML, Javascript and AJAX, but the code is very short and very straight forward. Below is an outline of the code, a description of how it works and it's set up so you can just copy and paste.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 7, 2016

Changing the Style in the new Tableau 10 Embed Code

Last year I blogged about Using HTML Style Object Properties with Embedded Tableau Visualizations. I used this technique to style a Tableau viz in various forms; round containers, borders, shadows, oval shapes, rotation and even making tiny versions of the viz. There's nothing new about these stlying features, but as part of Tableau 10, you might have noticed that the embed code has been changed a bit and all of this is even easier.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 31, 2016

Google Finance Data in Tableau 10 using Google Sheets Connection

A few weeks ago I posted instructions on Connecting Google Sheets with Tableau 10. This technique connects data from Google Sheets to Tableau and updates it daily. In the previous post I imported data into Googe Sheets using the IMPORTHTML function and returned data from a table. In this example, I am going to use a built-in function in Google Sheets for historical financial data which comes from Google Finance. The build instructions are very similar.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 19, 2016

Viz: "Current Location of the International Space Station"

A Tableau visualization reading the current location of the International Space Station every 8 seconds. Uses live JSON feed passing the latitude and longitude into Tableau as parameters with the Tableau Javascript API. Allow scripts to run in browser for live video feed.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 18, 2016

Connecting Google Sheets with Tableau 10

Tableau 10 was released yesterday and there are loads of great new features. I love the new Tableau fonts, the cross-database joins and the new clustering capabilities, but one of the most exciting new features is the way it connects to Google Sheets. This is very exciting for a number of reasons.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 29, 2016

Tableau Tips Volume 4: "Using Unicode Characters in Tableau"

The fourth installment of 10 simple tips in Tableau featuring Unicode characters.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 7, 2016

Tableau Tips Volume 3: "Speed Tips"

Speed tips: the third installment of 10 simple tips in Tableau with instructions and animated GIFs.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 29, 2016

Innovation in Data Visualization

There's been a lot of recent posts and debates within the data visualization community lately and one of the recurring themes is innovation, or as some have claimed a lack of innovation in the field. I'm not going to enter that debate at the moment, but instead talk about the process of innovation. People use this word quite frequently. Listen around you and I think you'll be surprised at how often people talk about it. But how do you actually do it? How do you innovate?

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 14, 2016

How To Convert Tableau Files: The Conversion Tool Explained

Last week I posted a new Tableau conversion tool here for converting Tableau files from one version of Tableau to a previous version of Tableau, for example, converting a Tableau 9.3 file back to 9.2 or a Tableau 10 beta file back to Tableau 9.3. A big thank you to the Tableau community for all of the emails and tweets. Clearly this is something the community has been looking for and I hope it's helpful. I wanted to follow up with another post to explain how the conversion is done, provide further details about the tool itself and give a disclaimer. So here it goes.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 6, 2016

Converting Tableau Files: A New Conversion Tool

I have been converting Tableau files from one version to another version quite frequently. From students at the University of Cincinnati, people at the office and working on the Big Book of Dashboards with various people from around the world, I've had to convert all sorts of Tableau files. I find that more often than not, it's just a single version of Tableau. For example, someone is on 9.2 when the current release is 9.3, but sometimes it's a few releases off.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
MAY 22, 2016

Designing to a Grid in Tableau

One of the major concepts when studying graphic design is designing to a grid. The concept involves designing a page layout in way that connects it with an imaginary grid. Designers often show this grid when they are designing. For example, using Adobe InDesign they can make a grid appear under "Grid and Guides" in the "View" menu (and CTRL + semicolon to toggle) . Here are a few short videos that explain this concept and how it can be used in design.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
MAY 13, 2016

Tableau Solution - Embedding Google Maps in Tableau

This post offers a solution for the error message in Tableau Desktop when embedding Google maps. The error that shows is "The Google Maps Embed API must be used in an iframe". Embedded web pages and URL actions in Tableau are really powerful tools. As an example, I've been embedding Google Maps in Tableau for a really long time, both for Tableau Public work as well as in my corporate environment. In fact, one of my first Tableau Public visualizations was visualizing Crime in Cincinnati, which I submitted to the very first Tableau IronViz contest back in 2011 and later updated in 2013. This viz featured an interactive crime map using Google Maps.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
MAY 8, 2016

More Custom Map Tips for Tableau without Using Mapbox

In a previous post I examined a way to create Minimalistic Maps in Tableau without using Mapbox. In short, by unchecking the "base" in Map Layers you are able to change the water color using the formatting options. However, I was recently working on a visualization and wanted to do the opposite. I wanted to use the base layer along with the streets and highways. In other words, I wanted to change the color of the land and didn't care about the water color. Here's an example of a map I created in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
APRIL 28, 2016

5 Tips on Designing Text Tables

This is a second in a series of posts about some of the well-known “data-viz rules." The field of data visualization offers many tools to help visualize data. We should leverage these tools to find trends and patterns in the data that we would not see with numbers in a table. There is nothing worse than opening a report in an Excel spreadsheet and seeing pages and pages of columns that provide little or no insight into the data.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
APRIL 20, 2016

5 Tips on Designing Colorblind-Friendly Visualizations

This is a first in a series of posts about some of the well-known “data-viz rules." We hear these rules, but the details behind them are often not examined in depth or overlooked completely. I wanted to examine a few of them to better understand and how they should be applied. For the first in the series, I examined the issue of using red and green together.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 18, 2016

Tableau Tips Volume 2

The second installment of 10 simple tips in Tableau with instructions and animated GIFs.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
February 22, 2016

Tableau Stock and Technology Trends

My friend and data visualization colleague Jon Schwabish wrote an interesting post today about Disclosure Rules for the Data Visualization Community. I actually fall into every category Jon describes, so I thought I would write a quick post about my thoughts on this subject and provide you with my "disclosure".

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
February 17, 2016

Creating "Beautiful Minimalistic Maps" in Tableau without Mapbox

Bridget Cogley recently wrote about creating "Beautiful Minimalistic Maps" in Tableau. She outlines a really great technique for creating a simple map with custom colors using Mapbox styled maps and then removing the map layers to leave the map color and design. I love Mapbox and the integration with Tableau makes it even easier to bring custom map designs into Tableau. However, when I saw Bridget's post, my first thought was, why use Mapbox for that. Why not do this right in Tableau? So here's some quick instructions for creating a very similar result in Tableau without using Mapbox.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
February 4, 2016

Teaching Teenagers Data Visualization and Tableau

I've done lots of speaking engagements, teaching data visualization at the University of Cincinnati, workshops and presentations, but last night was a first for me. I sat down for 2 hours with a group of 8 teenagers who are homeschooled, 7 boys and 1 girl. I am friends with one of the families and they asked me to come present. The age range was 12-17 and we met at my friend's house. Everyone brought laptops with Tableau Public preloaded and we jumped right in to the world of data visualization.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 31, 2016

Geo Midpoint in Tableau

This past week, I had several people ask me about finding the center point for a group of points on a map using Tableau without R. There are several methods for finding a geo midpoint. One of the methods that is described uses the averages of the latitude and longitude. This method assumes a flat earth. It gives a close approximation of points when they are within a close distance of each other (ex. 250 miles).

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 28, 2016

Viz: "Hello" by Adele reaches 1B Views on YouTube

Tableau Viz of the Day - A Tableau visualization showing the top YouTube videos of all-time. Adele's video "Hello" has hit one billion views faster than any other video in the history of YouTube, in a record 88 days.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
AND ANDY KRIEBEL
January 27, 2016

Tableau Interview with Dear Data Two

39 weeks complete, 1,726 image files, 68 blog posts, 50 Tableau workbooks, 4.3 gigs of data on two Dropbox folders and countless hours of time spent. It’s the Dear Data Two project by Andy Kriebel and Jeffrey Shaffer.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 22, 2016

Tableau Tips

10 simple tips in Tableau with instructions and animated GIFs.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 11, 2016

Using Tableau with Reveal.js - Instructions

reveal.js is a presentation framework for creating presentations in a browser. It's free and offers some really nice features that we will cover in this tutorial. Some of the key features include:

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 11, 2016

Tabitha - Voice Recognition and Voice Response for Tableau

How to create voice recognition and voice response for your Tableau visualizations. First thing is to understand the basics of the Tableau Javascript API. If you are not at all familiar with it, there is a Tableau Javascript Tutorial by Tableau Software to help get you started. This will walk you through the code step by step.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 29, 2015

Visualizing Time on a Clock in Tableau

I've spent the last few days working with my daughter on her science project for next month's science fair. She is experimenting with different types of forced patina on copper pipes. Part of the experiment is measuring time. She's recorded time for the various methods and so we opened her laptop and started playing with the data on Tableau Public.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 14, 2015

Dear-Data-Two Puzzle Viz in Tableau

Andy Kriebel and I are now in week 37 of our Dear-Data-Two project. Back in week 23 of the project, the topic was "Being Nice". I had some difficulty figuring out the data for that week. I was really puzzled by the topic, what data I was going to use and how to visualize it.

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BY : CRAIG WORTMAN
November 16, 2015

Creating a MLB Bar Code Chart in Tableau with Custom Team Colors (Guest Post)

A little over a year ago, Jeff sent me a link to “BallCode” created by Peter Gilks visualizing the 2013-2014 NBA Regular Season. I immediately thought, "this Viz is fantastic" and within a few weeks of discovering it, I had developed a similar-style “BarCode” chart tracking vital performance metrics for work. This “BarCode” chart solution, also known as a "win-loss" chart, is more or less a score sheet for success or failure of certain work initiatives. I found this was a great method for visualizing a certain metric on an executive dashboard.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
AND SILKE GOVAERT
November 2, 2015

Dynamic Geo-Optimization in Tableau Using Integration with R - Instructions

Last year I did a blog post on Dynamic Geo-Optimization in Tableau Using Integration with R with a sample video and a description of how this might work. The original R code is from R-Bloggers posted here. Last month, Silke Govaert from Datatonic, emailed me. She had implemented this in Tableau and we discussed doing an instructional post to supplement my original post.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 1, 2015

Using the Gender Package in R: Part 3 - Running a List of First Names from Tableau

In part 1 of this series, I discussed the basics of the Gender package in R. In part 2, I demonstrated how to leverage parallel processing to speed up the processing of names. For example, if you need to determine the gender for a list of 10,000 names. In this post I am going to discuss how to use the Tableau integration with R to run gender on a list of names, with and without parallel processing.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 26, 2015

Exploring the Tableau Preference File

My guess is that anyone using Tableau and custom colors in the preference file has always suspected that there are more settings available. And in fact, that is the case. As an example, notice the color of the slider control and the map controls.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 19, 2015

Meet the 2015-16 Tableau Zen Masters

Explore a visualization of the Tableau Zen Masters featuring a custom zen-rock Mapbox map in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 29, 2015

Using the Gender Package in R: Part 2 - Parallel Processing

I posted about the gender package in R and gave a few code examples to get started in part 1 here. If you tried this, then you probably realized very quickly that the processing time is very slow. It's a handy package, but if processing thousands or even tens of thousands of names then it would take a very long time. So this post will outline parallel processing (in Windows). By using the power of all of the processors it will cut the time down, especially if using 8 cores at once, which is what I will demonstrate.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 27, 2015

Using the Gender Package in R: Part 1 - Getting Started

There is a package in R called gender and it can be used to determine the gender of a first name. The package is very easy to use and is really powerful. I am planning a few posts related to this package, so I wanted to begin the series of posts with some basic R code to get things started. Below is the basic setup.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 23, 2015

Tableau Tip - Embedding YouTude Videos in Tableau - Updated

Earlier today, someone was reading my blog post about embedding YouTube videos in Tableau and this person emailed me because he was having trouble getting the videos to embed correctly. Using the previous instructions that I posted here, it only work in Safari, but not in other browsers. Long story short, the URL that used to work no longer work like they used to. I won't bore everyone with the details about why. Instead, I will post an updated URL that should work. We need to get the video ID in the same manner as the last time.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 27, 2015

Tableau Think Data Thursday

"I didn't know that was Tablossible" Presented by Noah Salvaterra, Chris DeMartini and Jeffrey Shaffer.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 21, 2015

Saving Your Custom Color Palette in Tableau

The new color tools in Tableau 9 are great. I really like the new color picker tool, it comes in very handy. This week I was working with some colors and I was frustrated. I've seen posts and comments from people about using the custom color palettes and the fact that when the workbook is closed that the custom colors are lost.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 19, 2015

Tableau War of TUGs

The results are in from the 2015 War of Tableau User Groups (TUG), here, and the Cincinnati TUG won! If you haven't seen the collection of final visualizations, you can see all of them here. I thought it might be interesting to walk through our process and some of the challenges.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 7, 2015

Embedding Multiple Containers with Embedded Tableau Visualizations

Last month I posted instructions on Using HTML Style Object Properties with Embedded Tableau Visualizations. In this post, I use the same technique, but I put one container on top of another container.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 18, 2015

Sending Text Messages Directly from Tableau Using URL Action

This month is "Action Month" at Tableau, so here is a little Tableau viz that uses a URL action to send text messages directly from Tableau. In this viz I use 3 parameters. One for the phone number, one for the message and one for the API Key needed to send messages. I then combine the 3 parameters together into a URL with a dashboard action.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 11, 2015

Using HTML Style Object Properties with Embedded Tableau Visualizations

I recently presented at the Analytics Summit at the University of Cincinnati Center for Business Analytics. As part of my presentation, I mentioned the human appeal of round edges in design. This can be seen in the design of our smart phones, tablets, furniture and in many architectural elements. This got me thinking about Tableau Public visualizations and how they are styled when they are embedded in web pages.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
April 30, 2015

Tableau Reference Guide

A one stop shop of Tableau resources and links covering graphing, color, calculations, mapping, importing/export data, level of detail calculations, training videos, Javascript API, sounds and videos, toolips, Tableau Server and other miscellaneous tips, tricks and tutorials.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
April 15, 2015

Denied Ohio License Plates Viz

A visualization of the denied licensed plates in Ohio from data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 21, 2015

Tableau Wiki Data Viz Contest Entries

Tomorrow is the deadline to submit the entries to the Tableau Wiki Data Viz contest here. I have compiled a list of entries that I have seen so far. Some of these have excellent posts as well on how they built the visualization. Overall there are some really great entries, so I wanted to post this compilation for my students at the University of Cincinnati to use as inspiration for their upcoming projects in our data visualization class. I've added the author's Twitter account so you can follow them if you aren't already.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 12, 2015

Talk Tableau to Me Part 2: When Birds Collide with Voice

The prototype viz that I posted here a few days ago has created lots of excitement. I've had a number of people email and message me about it, so I thought I would post a part 2. In this example, I showcase one of my all-time favorite Tableau visualizations, When birds and planes collide, by Tableau Zen Master Kelly Martin. I've always loved her visualization, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase her viz with the added feature of voice recognition using the Tableau Javascipt API, annyang.js and responsivevoice.js.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 8, 2015

Talk Tableau to Me

This past week I had the privilege of attending the Tapestry conference in Athens, Georgia. This was a terrific event and a chance for me to catch up with many wonderful people in the data visualization and Tableau community. The agenda was packed with three keynote speakers and five short stories. As part of the afternoon session, there was a "Demo Showcase and Poster Session" where people highlighted projects they have been working on.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
February 17, 2015

Bursting Your Bubble in Tableau

Back in June 2013, I recreated Hans Rosling's famous Gapminder visualization from his TED talk. My Tableau visualization is posted here as well as Moritz Stefaner's Remixing Rosling, which I also recreated in Tableau here. Unfortunately, there are no "play" controls on Tableau Public, so I also posted a YouTube video demonstrating the play movement in the visualization here. A few months later, Mec Analytics posted a comment on YouTube asking, "If I want to split the bubble into smaller bubbles representing nations, how can I do that?" What this person is asking refers to a point in Hans Rosling's presentation, here, where he bursts the bubbles into Countries.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 27, 2015

Combining Tableau, reveal.js and gesture.js

"These aren't the Droids You're Looking For". Just like Obi Wan Kenobi's Jedi mind trick hand wave in Star Wars, we can wave our hand and transition through slides in reveal.js including slides with Tableau workbooks. A few days ago, I posted about combining Tableau with reveal.js featuring Mark Jackson's Tableau Public visualization on Urbanizing China. This post outlines the same presentation methods, but I've now added gesture.js. Gesture utilizes the webcam as a sensor for gestures to control the slide presentation. This technology is not perfect, but it does work once you get the hang of the gestures.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 25, 2015

Combining Tableau and reveal.js

Yesterday, I posted about combining Tableau with deck.js. Today, I am going to post about combining Tableau with reveal.js. Both offer a nice interface and an easy way to embed Tableau visualizations right into HTML. Both allow for a seamless slide transitions and since the Tableau workbooks load upfront there is less time for each workbook or tab to load. Reveal.js was created by Nakim El Hattab. It's a very powerful platform written in JavaScript that has all sorts of formatting options, controls, themes, etc. I used Nakim's presentation template to demonstrate how Tableau could be embedded into reveal.js.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 24, 2015

Combining Tableau and deck.js

Last semester, some students in the data visualization class at the University of Cincinnati presented their final projects. Their final project was mostly done in Tableau, but one of their charts was a sankey diagram and they made the choice to do this one in D3 instead of Tableau. They had a number of options to put this together, but they chose to use deck.js to put it into a single presentation. This was very well done and worked great. I had some additional ideas on how this could be used with Tableau and I filed it away to come back to in the future.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 24, 2015

Tips for Tableau's New Map Control

Tableau now offers new map controls that have already gone live with Tableau Public and will soon be released with Tableau 9.0. There are a number of new features in the new map controls. For example, there is a search button that will allow the user to type in the name of a city or state, and the map will automatically re-center on that area. There are also new selection tools. The Rectangular Selection tool is still an option, but there is a new Radial Selection tool and a Lasso Selection tool. As a result, there are also some new keyboard shortcuts for these.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 22, 2015

Mind the Donuts

Back in November, Ryan Sleeper, the 2013 Tableau Iron Viz Champion, published a blog post here on how to make donut charts in Tableau. The following month, Andy Kriebel, data visualization expert and Tableau Zen Master, posted additional instructions here. Both Ryan and Andy would be the first of many data visualization guys to tell you, "Don't use pie charts and donut charts" in almost any situation. In fact, Andy does exactly that in another blog post from 2012 here. However, in this one particular case, they both argue that the donut chart works well. Their example is a very common use case. It involves a Key Performance Indicator or KPI. More specifically, they are measuring the performance of something against its goal in particular regions.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 1, 2015

Node-Link Tree Diagram in Tableau

Back in November someone from Zurich, Switzerland, emailed me about using my sankey-style slopegraph technique in Tableau to emulate a chart in D3. The diagram is often referred to as a node-link tree diagram. To build this I utilized the same technique as outlined here. I posted an image on Twitter back in November here but the data used to build this was proprietary so I wasn't able to post the workbook. I anonymized the data and the Tableau workbook is now posted here.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 23, 2014

Creating a Venn Diagram in Tableau

The Venn Diagram, sometimes referred to as a set diagram, was first introduced in 1880 by John Venn (more information here). Unfortunately, these chart types are not great visualization tools for comparing quantitative data. My first response to my student suggested alternative approaches to the visualization, but I got the sense from him that a strict client request was driving the desire for this chart type and changing the visualization design wasn't an option. I outlined an approach for him and then put my draft workbook in an archive folder. Since it's not a chart type that I considered very useful I wasn't really motivated to solve this problem and it sat idle.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 20, 2014

Weighted Fishbone Diagram

At the end of 1949, an associate professor from the University of Tokyo named Kaoru Ishikawa joined the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) to help develop and enact quality improvements in Japan’s industrial sector. Ishikawa was brought on due to his great skill of mobilizing large groups of people toward a common goal. In conjunction with JUSE, he would ultimately create Ishikawa diagrams to help determine root causes in events. Ishikawa diagrams help show the relationship between causes and effects for a specific event. These diagrams also help analyze root causes and define failure modes while often being used in manufacturing, marketing, and service industries.

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BY : OLIVIER CATHERIN
November 19, 2014

Building a Dynamic Sankey Diagram made of Polygons in Tableau (Guest Post)

As I was working on building a Sankey Diagram with Tableau, I found the excellent articles by Jeffrey Shaffer from Data + Science for developing a methodology to build a Sankey in Tableau. Starting with Jeff's method, I wanted to add some interactivity on my diagram and minimize the data preparation. I just wanted to be able to build my viz using the model provided by Jeff and a dataset with Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 along with 1 indicator (size) and use dates to perform filtering. I didn't want to use SQL or an Excel Macro to prepare the data.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 13, 2014

Visual Perception and Data Visualization

In the field of data visualization, why do we care so much about visual perception? Does it really matter when creating charts and graphs? The answer is a resounding yes; it does matter, and hopefully this one very simple example will demonstrate why it matters. Below are two chart legends taken from data visualizations done in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 30, 2014

What is a data scientist?

I often see references and discussions around "data science" and "data scientists," and every time I do, I start to ponder the topic and think about writing a post around it. I was reminded again this week because my daughter was telling a woman that I know that I was a "data scientist" and she was trying to explain to that person what I do. She's eight years old, so it was really precious listening to her describe this to someone (She also has a small microscope that she loves to use and tells me that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up). There have been a number of blog posts that I've read that specifically draw me to this topic, after all, my website is called data + science.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 23, 2014

Halloween Data Set Published for Data Visualization

I have lived in my house for 12 years, and every Halloween I get inundated with trick-or-treaters. Year after year it's like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory at my house, with candy flying out the door. Now being a data guy, what do I do? Well that's simple, I count them. A friend and I keep meticulous count of the trick-or-treaters in 30 minute intervals, and I've been tracking this data year by year. After a number of years of recording these numbers, I decided to use it as a data set for data visualization training. I've used this data set in the data visualization course at the University of Cincinnati, training at KPMG in their Advisory University and Global Analytics training as well as other data visualization workshops and corporate training.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 22, 2014

A Critique of Tableau's "Visual Analysis Best Practice"

I want to start this post by complimenting Tableau as being what I believe to be the best data visualization and BI platform on the market today. I am a huge supporter, a long-time Tableau Public user, a corporate user, an academic user, and a shareholder of the company. I teach Data Visualization at the University of Cincinnati, and we use Tableau extensively in class. I have introduced nearly five hundred students to Tableau in the last few years, with some students going on to have careers in data visualization. I also demonstrate Tableau in my corporate training work and various presentations on data visualization, data mining, and data science. I often tell people that Microsoft Excel will do everything it can to make your chart terrible and break rules by default while Tableau will do what it can to suggest things that are best practice. I could write extensively on this topic, but the focus of this post is to examine and discuss Tableau's publication of "Visual Analysis Best Practices".

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 12, 2014

My IronViz Contest Viz and Commentary

Let me begin by saying, wow! Participating in the 2014 Tableau IronViz competition was an incredible experience. The Tableau conference was amazing, and I was able to meet so many friends in person whom I only knew from social media platforms. The IronViz stadium was equally amazing. Five large screens, 1,000 people watching at full-capacity for the room, and two amazing vizzers to compete against (and really nice guys too!). Lights, music, smoke, and blazingly fast viz action. I've included a commentary below if anyone is interested, but you're probably more interested in seeing my viz, so here it is (or at least what it would have been with my lost 3 minutes back - details below). Be sure to move the mouse around the roulette wheel!

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 27, 2014

Methods for Creating Jitter in Tableau

The use of jitter is a great technique in dot plots, box plots with dots, and scatter plots. Jitter is a random value (or for our purposes pseudo-random) that is assigned to the dots to separate them so that they aren't plotted directly on top of each other. Tableau doesn't offer a check box, a built-in function, or a parameter to apply jitter, and there is no Tableau function to generate a random number. This is a common question from students in my data visualization class ("how to do jitter in Tableau"), and I was reminded of it recently when looking at a viz by Jon Boeckenstedt.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 17, 2014

Real-Time Traffic in Tableau Using Integration with R

Back in June, I started playing with embedding traffic maps in Tableau. Many of the websites simply don't work. For example, embedding Google or Yahoo maps with a traffic layer as a URL in a Tableau Web Page doesn't work in the same manner as a regular map, Bird's Eye view or Street View.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 9, 2014

Using Improved Data Connectivity in Tableau 8.2 to Build Sankey Diagrams

Sankey diagram are now even easier with Tableau 8.2. It's been a few months since my original post on building sankey diagrams in Tableau, but I continue to get regular emails with examples and questions. Today someone emailed me with an interesting question regarding building sankey diagrams in Tableau. By using the new and improved data connectivity it is possible to shape the data for the sankey diagram without needing to prepare it in Excel or SQL ahead of time.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 3, 2014

Tableau's New Story Points Feature is now "Out of This World"

Tableau Viz of the Day - Tableau's theme for the month of July is "Storytelling", inspired by the new story points feature released in Tableau 8.2. So here is my first viz using this new feature. The topic is "Valhalla", which is the largest crater in the Solar System, located on Callisto which is one of the Galilean Moons of Jupiter. An interesting story, but there were a few challenges I had to overcome that I wanted to mention.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 29, 2014

Building weather radar in Tableau in under 1 minute

Here is an image of the weather radar in the midwest from WCPO Weather Radar and the same weather radar view from Tableau. We can build this in just a few clicks in Tableau. Before opening Tableau, copy this list of states (with header) into the clipboard (Highlight them and hit CTRL-C).

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 29, 2014

SQL Code to Prepare Data for Sankey in Tableau

I continue to get regular emails about building sankey diagrams and sankey-style slopegraphs in Tableau based on the instructions that I posted here. I previously posted an Excel VBA for preparing data for Tableau here. A big thank you to Russell Spangler for creating this SQL code that basically does the same thing.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 13, 2014

Recreating a Financial Sankey in Tableau

Yesterday someone posted a question on the Tableau Community page here regarding my approach to building sankey diagrams in Tableau. The person was asking if it was possible to create the following sankey diagram in Tableau. I used the method outlined in my previous posts with some slight adjustments for the gaps which I discuss on the Tableau Community post.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 7, 2014

Tableau Iron Viz 2014 Viz

An IronViz visualization.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
May 25, 2014

Music Major ~ Data Miner

Quantified Self visualization using Tableau: "Music Major ~ Data Miner" (Winner - Tableau Quantified Self Viz Contest)

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
May 8, 2014

Tableau Viz - "Bond. James Bond."

A Tableau visualization on the actors who have played James Bond. This viz utilizes a custom Flash object to play the music.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
April 11, 2014

Dynamic Geo-Optimization in Tableau Using R Integration
- a work in progress

The video below demonstrates a work in progress. It's a dynamic geo-optimization in Tableau using integration with R. There is a post on r-bloggers here that outlines how this works as well as sample code that I modified and built on top off for this project. The top map in this visualization plots a quantity by location. Example, number of widgets in each factory. The algorithm uses the quantity as a weight in the calculation and calculates the optimal center location based on those quantities and their location.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
April 10, 2014

Tableau Tip - Embedding YouTude Videos

There are a number of options when embedding YouTube videos into Tableau. I will demonstrate some of these options using a YouTube video of my recreation of Hans Rosling's Gapminder in Tableau. Note: See blog post here for updated instructions (9/23/2015).

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
April 7, 2014

Excel VBA Macro to Prepare Data for Sankey in Tableau

I have had a number of emails about building sankey diagrams and sankey-style slopegraphs in Tableau based on the instructions that I posted here. Even though it's fairly quick and easy to build in Tableau it does require putting the data into a certain format before importing into Tableau. I'm not one for repetitive tasks and so I decided to write a quick VBA Macro in Excel to prepare the data for immediate import into Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
April 2, 2014

A Redesign of My Monthly Energy Bill from Duke Energy

Every so often I login to my Duke Energy account to examine my monthly usage. Unfortunately I am greeted with poorly designed pie charts as the tool for making comparisons. I decided to do a redesign this afternoon. Here's the original chart from Duke Energy with my design notes.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 28, 2014

A Graph Recreation in Tableau - Part 3: Multiple Charts

It seems the activity continues over my post showing the sankey-style slopegraph in Tableau here and the instructions on how to build it are here. What an amazing Tableau community out there. A number of people have already been playing with this and Tableau Zen Master Mark Jackson posted on Twitter a great use of this, showing the NCAA bracket ranking of Round 1 vs. Round 2. We started talking about adding Round 3 and we were brainstorming earlier this evening on how to do this.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 25, 2014

A Graph Recreation in Tableau - Part 2: How To Build

I received a number of pings about yesterday's post showing the sankey-style slopegraph in Tableau. Here are the basics of the recreation using calculations in Tableau to simplify the process even further.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 24, 2014

A Graph Recreation in Tableau

Andy Kriebel found an interesting visualization and posted it on his Facebook page VizWiz. I decided to take a crack at recreating it in Tableau. This graph is a variation on a slope graph. Slope graphs are fairly straight forward in Tableau because it's a straight line from point a to point b and the size of the line is simple. The shape of the line in this visualization is a bit more difficult.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 21, 2014

The Story of Two Shots

A Tableau visualization visualizing the critical game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat in the Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 3, 2013

A Redesign of a Redesign

I need to start this post by stating that I am a big fan of Cole Nussbaumer's work at Storytellingwithdata.com. If you are not familiar with her data visualization blog then I would highly recommend that you follow her. Cole offers practical advice for designing great data visualizations and typically has wonderful redesign examples on her website. With that said, I would like to examine one of her redesigns that I came across today and offer an alternative approach.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 27, 2013

Fixing a Scripting Error in Tableau

During the final project presentations of the last data visualization class at the University of Cincinnati there was a scripting error that kept popping up on the students visualizations in Tableau. The scripting error seemed to occur on certain websites which were linked via the dashboard actions. In the past few weeks I've noticed this error pop up on numerous visualizations and have searched for a solution to this problem. Tableau Support responded with this link to help resolve the issue and with some slight modifications this appears to have solved the problem.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 21, 2013

Scatter Plot with Box Plot Axis in Tableau 8.1

Here is another quick visualization that I put together to showcase the new Tableau 8.1 box plot feature. In this case I used a standard scatter plot to show the height and weight of the players in Major League Baseball. In addition to the scatter plot, I included a box plot at each axis to show the distribution of the height and weight separately. Using quick filters for both team and position it is easy to examine the distributions.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
November 11, 2013

Box plots now available with Tableau 8.1

Tableau 8.1 was just released this morning. I previously posted some example of the new integration with R. However, the other really nice feature that is new in 8.1 is the new chart type, box plots. This feature is also available as additional context in the axis dialogue where reference lines and bands are set.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 9, 2013

Geocoding Addresses Directly in Tableau 8.1 Using Integration with R

It's now day 2 playing with Tableau's integration with R and the questions for tonight: Do you have a list of addresses in Tableau and need to geocode them? Ever wish you had an easy way to geocode them directly from Tableau without using a geocoding service or website? Well now with Tableau 8.1 integration with R this is possible, at least in some instances.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 9, 2013

Deciphering Daniel Tosh’s Credit Card Number

On Wednesday, September 3rd, 2013, Daniel Tosh ended his show Tosh.O with a real-world brain teaser. Mathematically 8!, or 40,320, is the correct answer for the number of possible permutations of an 8 digit number using these 8 digits. However, with some understanding about the composition of credit card numbers it is possible to quickly narrow this down to a much more manageable list. As soon as I saw this on TV I immediately posted to Facebook: “I really hope he didn't use his actual credit card number because there aren't as many guesses as he probably thinks there are. I could script that pretty quick and narrow that right down.”

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 8, 2013

A Preview of Tableau 8.1 Integration with R Using Parameters

Earlier today, Tableau published a post here by Bora Beran titled Tableau 8.1 and R. He provided an excellent example of this integration using a very famous data set, a dataset of Iris flowers introduced by Sir Ronald Fisher. This dataset is often used in data mining classes and text books. In fact it was the very first assignment in Data Mining I at the University of Cincinnati. Bora's post shows off this exciting new feature that will soon be available in Tableau 8.1.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 1, 2013

The Shaffer 4 C’s of Data Visualization

Clear, Clean, Concise and Captivating.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
October 1, 2013

The Shaffer 4 C's - Clean Examples

Simple and practical examples on how to clean up your charts.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 21, 2013

The Language of Bar Charts

The language of bar charts speaks both vertically and horizontally.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
February 21, 2013

Exploring All of Your Options

I recently read a blog post by Naomi Robbins from Forbes entitled Line Charts are Not Always the Best Way to Show Time Series. For those of you who are not familiar with Naomi Robbins you should add her to your reading list because she has some terrific posts regarding data visualization practices. This was an interesting post regarding her recent internet usage on a trip using a mifi for internet access.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
January 12, 2013

Comparison of Dot Plot with Jitter

A comparison of a dot plot with and without jitter.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 2, 2013

Serious Data Table Problem with Microsoft Excel could make your data go Bass Ackwards

Data Tables are great tools for adding context to a chart or graph for data visualization. However, be careful when using these data tables and remember to always check your data!

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
December 16, 2013

Congratulations to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Creating an Excellent Graph

The highlight for today is a refreshingly well done graph on the unemployment rate and median earnings when compared to education attained.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
August 5, 2013

Tableau Data Visualization on Bank Sentiment and CFPB Analysis

This data visualization is showing the consumer sentiment regarding banks using tweets from Twitter and consumer complaints in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) complaint database. The tweets used in this visualization were part of a dataset used to build a sentiment scoring algorithm. The manual tweets were used as the response variable and we built several models to predict a sentiment score (the final model is an SVM).

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 12, 2013

Moritz Stefaner's Remixing Rosling recreated in Tableau

Recreating Moritz Stefaner's Remixing Rosling in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 12, 2013

Hans Rosling's Gapminder recreated in Tableau

Recreating the famous Gapminder visualization by Hans Rosling in Tableau.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 12, 2013

Cincinnati Crime Visualization in Tableau

A Tableau visualization of the crime in Cincinnati featuring a droplet chart, Google satelitte and Streetview maps, a crime dashboard and a geo-optimization. Data provided by the Cincinnati Police.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
July 12, 2013

Creating the Cincinnati Crime Visualization

Instructions on how to build the Crime Visualization in Tableauincluding the droplet chart, Google satelitte and Streetview maps.

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BY : MARCUS W. BECK
March 14, 2013

Visualizing neural networks from the nnet package in R

In this blog I present a function for plotting neural networks from the nnet package. This function allows the user to plot the network as a neural interpretation diagram, with the option to plot without colorcoding or shading of weights. The neuralnet package also offers a plot method for neural network objects and I encourage interested readers to check it out.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
March 7, 2013

Geospatial Analysis for the Cincinnati Zoo Membership

This is a screenshot of some geospatial analysis of the membership standing for the Cincinnati Zoo. Unfortunately, I can't share the visualization or the data, but this screenshot was part of the final results showing the stark differences in the neighborhoods of Cincinnati for the membership status.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
September 1, 2012

Storm Tracking Redesign using WMS Server

This is a screenshot of redesign of a Tableau Public Visualization that visualized storms. In this redesign, I changed the play control to show each day, added the storm name and used a Blue Marble map layer from a WMS server.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
June 8, 2011

Improving a Credit Score

This is a one page guide and visualization that I put together for the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. This was created to be a quick reference guide for real estate agents to help their clients understand what factors most affect their credit score.

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BY : JEFFREY SHAFFER
April 8, 2011

Exam Grades for Students Understand a Box and Whiskers Plot

A funny box and whiskers plot that I came up with and use in class to help the students understand how to read them and who is created for inventing them.

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