Tableau dashboard navigation without the double click

There are use cases where using buttons can aid Tableau dashboard navigation. For example in your Tableau report you may have a summary dashboard and a detailed drill down. Perhaps you want the user to drill down from the summary to the detail dashboard on a click.

Tableau Actions make this drill down very simple. It’s the drilling back up that is more complicated. In this example I have created a very simple bar chart of sales by Country using Tableau’s sample superstore file. I have also created a a table containing sales by State and Year. This table is the drill down for this example.

To keep things simple the two worksheets were used in two dashboards. The Summary dashboard contains only the bar chart worksheet, the Detail dashboard is only the table.

To drill down from the Summary dashboard is simple using Actions. Click Dashboard – Actions and set a new filter action using Summary as the Source Sheet, run action on Select and the Target Sheet is the Detail. Target Filters are All Fields.

Filter Action Summary

That is the drill down new set up. Click a Country name and it’ll take you to the Detail dashboard, filtered for that Country. Returning to the Summary from the Detail dashboard is the challenge.

To return we can create a Back button. This is actually just another worksheet styled to appear like a button. Create a new calculated field with the formula ‘Back’. Drag that field to the Text shelf of a new worksheet, set it to be a chart type of Shape. Select an appropriate shape, such as a filled back arrow and size to fit the worksheet.

Tableau Back Button

Put this ‘button’ on to the Detail dashboard. On the Detail dashboard click Dashboard – Actions and set up a new Filter action. This time the Source Sheet is Detail, only the Back worksheet should be selected. The Target is the Summary dashboard, All Fields as the Target Filters. Make sure it’s set up to run action on Select.

The user will now be able to drill from the Summary to Detail and return to the Summary. The downside is with the Back button. Once it is selected – i.e. the first time clicked – it needs to be deselected to be able to be drill down again. Effectively this means the user needs to double click to go back, one click to reset then click again to go back. This double click isn’t good user experience. The good news is there is a way to make it single click.

Create two calculated fields, the first called ‘one’ with the value 1, the second called ‘two’ with the value 2. Set both fields to be dimensions (drag them up to Dimensions from Measures). Put ‘one’ to the Detail shelf of the Back worksheet.

On the Detail dashboard create a new action; Dashboard – Actions. A new Filter action is used to reset the Back button, the Source Sheet being the Back worksheet on the Detail dashboard. The Target Sheet is the Back worksheet – it is referencing itself. The Target filters are Selected Fields, Add Filter and the Source Field is ‘one’ and the Target Field ‘two’. ‘One’ has to be on the Detail shelf of the Back worksheet otherwise it causes an error.

Filter Action Back Button

The order of the 2 actions on the Detail dashboard is very important. Get the order wrong and the click on Back won’t take you back to the Summary, it only resets the button.

The order of the Actions is driven by the name of the action. Resetting the Back button needs to happen first followed by returning to the Summary sheet. Therefore prefix the name of the action to rest then back button with ‘a’ and the action back to summary with a ‘b’. The appropriate naming of the actions means the drilling down and back up again should work seamlessly.

Back Button Actions

When publishing to a Tableau server there are a couple of other points (frustrations) to keep in mind:

  1. ‘Show sheets as tabs’ has to be selected when publishing – if not it open the Detail in a new browser tab
  2. The browser tabs can be hidden by URL once published, as I have done above, add a URL parameter to the report URL, &:tabs=no.

The URL used to publish above, using the above technique to publish with sheet tabs then subsequently hiding the tabs, is https://public.tableau.com/views/DashboardNavigation/Summary?:tabs=no

2018-08-20T12:19:31+00:00 May 14th, 2017|Tableau, Tableau Server|

10 Comments

  1. Terry Hardaway 2017-12-06 at 16:11 - Reply

    This is exactly what I was looking for. However, I have the link to my details page within the Tool Tip, and when I publish to the server, that Tool Tip doesn’t populate. Do you know how I can fix that?

    • Andrew 2017-12-06 at 19:59 - Reply

      You’re using a Menu filter action and that isn’t populating on server?

  2. Pawel 2018-01-18 at 13:00 - Reply

    Hello, great solution. Any way to deselect as well country on Summary dashboard? so single click can be when selecting same Country?

    • Andrew 2018-01-18 at 20:05 - Reply

      It should be possible. Where the post talks about resetting the Back action what you want to do is reset the Country action. I haven’t tested it but using the same actions technique as used on Detail should also work on Summary to reset Country. Best to watch the action settings to not clear the filter – i.e. in the action settings Clearing the Selection Will: Leave the filter.

  3. Rachel 2018-01-25 at 20:11 - Reply

    Finally, something that works! Thank you!

  4. Kirti 2018-02-28 at 08:47 - Reply

    When I click on a Country in Dashboard1 it selects that country. When I come back using the back button and Select the same country I still have to do a double click. Is there any way to avoid that?

    • Andrew 2018-02-28 at 20:31 - Reply

      In that case it’s not really a double click as you’re removing an action then re-applying. This is standard action behaviour.

  5. Philip T 2018-03-22 at 12:28 - Reply

    Thank you so much. This was something that was annoying me and this solution was really easy.

  6. Keith C 2018-06-15 at 19:12 - Reply

    First off, thank you for posting this. This will certainly make life easier on some of my simpler dashboards! It is a nice and simple technique! However, if you can guess by my “simpler” verbiage, I have a couple of layers deeper I’d like to go, and I can’t seem to make it work…

    I have a three-dashboard set, each one (by Department, by Sponsor, by Responsible Party) containing a button to jump to a detail page, and a button on their detail pages to take them back. I can get this method to work on just one of the summary-to-detail-to-summary clicks, but the multiple dashboards do not seem to work. I tried to make additional “Three and Four” and “Five and Six” combinations similar to the “One and Two” filtering you described in the actions for these pages’ buttons, but inevitably, something goes wrong with the filtering after a few clicks around. I unchecked the boxes for the target sheets so no additional actions could muddy their waters, but this did not help. Any suggestions?

    Then, if these can be fixed, I’d like to have another layer where I can jump from summary to summary through more buttons (I make them look like folder tabs across the top of my page)…how would this sort of filtering need to be applied in this subsequent case, if it can be applied at all?

    Thanks again for the post…I am always looking for ways to make things look good while doing some slick processing. 🙂

  7. Rupert Smith 2018-07-30 at 14:02 - Reply

    Has anyone had any luck with multiple subsets of action filters? I have a navigation button guiding the user to another page that has a sheet display toggle. This secondary action works as follows: when they select a button, one sheet is hidden and one is shown. When they deselect the button, the inverse occurs.

    When I navigate back up to this page with a navigation button however, the toggle is reset, and both sheets show until the user clicks the toggle again.

    Any help is appreciated.

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