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Taking Tableau 10’s Responsive Design for a Punt

Written by craigsdewar on .

Hi Folks,

I’ve just finished putting together my entry for the 3rd and final Iron viz 2016 qualifying contest.

The theme this time is an ‘Iron viz Mobile Edition‘ – and was all about designing a viz for mobile, tablet and desktop devices.  It was a great opportunity to try out Tableau 10’s new device designer.

At first I thought I would find a new data source, and then work up a responsive design viz from scratch.  But then after looking back at some of my portfolio of vizzes, I thought it would make sense to give one a makeover, and make it mobile friendly.  The first one that came to mind was my CraigsBet punting viz – which I occasionally refresh with data on a Saturday morning for an informed punting session over a few ales in the afternoon.

Over the past year or so I’ve been refining the process of scraping horse racing data from the web (using, as well as using Alteryx to give it a good parse, cleanse, join etc – before outputting it to a series of databases for use by my viz.  I can now get all races in 4 x Aus cities up and running in an hour, and insert further rows of odds (for trending) in about 5 minutes.

To make my informed puting decisions, I usually made use of my Tablet, but was really relishing the idea of converting the viz to suit my phone.

The old viz was definitely not phone friendly.

First task however, was to give the Desktop/Tablet version a makeover.  After selecting a new colour palette (something that looks good in the Tableau Public frame), and adding some of those new Tableau fonts, I spent some time adding some tricks that i’ve learned over the time since I originally built it. The first one was adding some cool incrementing action navigations to easily move from tab to tab.  Another key thing I needed to do was ensure that my axis labels were at the top of the viz, not way down at the bottom of a field of up to 20 horses – I knew that wasn’t going to be phone friendly.

The device designer was a bit tricky to get going – not the most intuitive interface, but after going through the online help I had something I was happy with after about an hour. The key learning I got was that you need to put everything you want in any one of the 3 devices designs into a ‘default’ viz (even if they not on the visible dashboard) – and then remove the objects/vizzes from each of the desktop/tablet/phone layouts.

I must say that I was a bit disappointed that the online help recommended that I should publish to Public without ‘show sheets as tabs’ – as ‘the tabs sizing requirements interfere with the server’s ability to correctly detect the size of the web browser and load the correct layout’. That’s a fairly big piece of user interactivity to sacrifice to get a responsive design going – Also, I knew that my newly added action navigations were going to open in new browser tabs if I couldn’t publish without tableau tabs. (bummer!)  It is a shame that the :tabs=no suffix to urls that you can use on Tableau Server – don’t appear to work with Tableau Public.

Anyway – I ended up publishing ‘With Tabs’ – without much impact (fingers crossed) – which is good – because I wanted to include a phone version of a ‘Winner History’ tab in the final pack.  This is actually a really good analysis of the attributes of past winners of big races. It works quite well converting from Desktop to Phone layout – making full use of the 4000px vertical scrolling region.

A very long phone viz. (on its side)

The last piece of my effort was to give the viz some sort of hook.  Past winning entries of iron viz feeder contests have been more than just good design.  I needed something that would make looking at a series of odds and stats for horse races (which are now finished) more than just mildly interesting.  I wanted folks to enjoy exploring my viz. So I asked myself what questions folks would want to answer. It came to me instantly –   WHICH HORSE ACTUALLY WON? So I then had to go and scrape (well copy past actually) some results data from the web (and then cleanse, parse, and union etc) – and add as a new datasource.  I then added a nifty little blended view and highlight action to each device layout that would allow users (after they had decided which horse they thought would win) the chance to instantly see which horse did in fact win on the day. Kind of like instant punting without losing money!


Anyway – without further ado – here is what the final 3 x device designs ended up (With a link to the Tableau Public Version.  Wish me luck…….(and maybe see you in Austin!)


Click here for link to Tableau Public interactive version

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