The introduction of parameters with Tableau 6 have made this software far more powerful. Intelligent use of these have made many things possible that we couldn’t do in previous versions including allowing the user to dynamically select which measures or dimensions they would like to see on the visualisation.

This could massively reduce the number of worksheets required. Where previously you would have needed to create 2 charts to show 2 different metrics now this is possible on one chart where the user can select what measure they want to see.

Here’s an example using the coffee chain dataset that comes with Tableau. In this example the user selects which metric they would like to see on the chart, showing the metric by Market over time.

This is actually very straightforward to create – it just makes use of a Calculated Field and a Parameter.

First create a parameter with all of the metric options you would like the user to be able to display.

Next create a calculated field which uses the result of this parameter.

Now all we need to do is place the metrics in the appropriate places. The calculated field pill we have just created, MetricToDisplay, goes on the rows shelf, the Date pill on the columns and the Market pill on the colour shelf. Make sure the parameter control is on the sheet – right click on the parameter to do this.

This same technique can be used or all areas of the sheet to make an entire workbook flexible for the user.  A good example of this is available in another blog:

The Title and Tooltip have also been altered so it’s clear what metric is selected. Download the workbook from the link above for more information.