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Introducing the Tableau Public Stats Service

If you’ve already read all about the service and just want to access the various links, here is the sign-up form and here is the starter workbook. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then please read on!

 

In 2017, I built a viz called My Vizzes which shared my Tableau Public stats—number of vizzes, number of views, number of favorites, etc. Others have also created wonderful vizzes showing similar information on their own profiles. Additionally, there have been some amazing projects which have collected and visualized the stats of a large number of Tableau Public authors. The first of these, Josh Tapley’s Cerebro Project, contains data for 130K profiles (and growing)! It allows you to look at your own stats, compare yourself to others, view leaderboards of the most favorited, most viewed, and most followed authors, as well as explore to find others you’d like to follow. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite Tableau Public projects ever.

 

When I first built My Vizzes, I had used a rudimentary (and quite manual) method for collecting my stats. But, shortly after that, I learned about the Tableau Public API from Rodrigo Calloni and Josh Tapley (he uses this for the Cerebro Project), so I switched my process to use the API. At first, I used a method shared by Jeffrey Shaffer that allows you to call an API directly from Google Sheets. This worked great, but eventually, I found that I wanted a little more control over the structure of the data so I ended up writing my own Python script which writes my stats to a Google Sheet. And that’s the method I still use today.

 

At this point, you may be asking why Google Sheets. The reason is that Google Sheets are the only data source that Tableau Public can automatically refresh for you. So, you can publish your workbook, ask Tableau Public to perform the auto-refresh, and never worry about it again. I set up My Vizzes to work this way and, despite not touching it in years, it’s still updating with new data every day.  

 

There are plenty of tutorials on how to leverage the Tableau Public API to pull your (or others’) stats and some of us have even shared our code publicly to make it easier for others to get their data (you can find my code on Github). That said, it’s still difficult. It requires that you be familiar with Python and have the infrastructure set up to be able to run the script on a regular basis. This, unfortunately, can be a bit daunting. And, because of that, I don’t see that many vizzes exploring their Tableau Public stats.

 

Today I’m hoping to change that…

 

The Tableau Public Stats Service

To make collecting your stats easier, I’ve created what I’m calling the Tableau Public Stats Service, which will allow users to get their data without writing a single line of code. The service, which runs on AWS, is just an enhanced version of the Python code I use for my own stats.

 

Here’s how it works:

 

1) You’ll complete a simple form sharing your name, email address, and a link to your Tableau Public profile.

 

2) Your information will be automatically added to a secure database of profiles the service is managing.

 

3) Within the next few hours, the service will process your request, create a personalized Google Sheet—which can only be accessed by you and me—and populate it with your Tableau Public stats. The spreadsheet will include a mix of viz-specific and user-specific data items (for a detailed list of fields, see the data dictionary).

 

4) After the initial creation of your spreadsheet, you’ll be sent an automated email with a link to your Google Sheet and instructions on how to use it.

 

5) From that point forward, your Google Sheet will be automatically updated with fresh stats once a day.

 

And that’s it!! You’ll have up-to-date stats about your Tableau Public profile, at your fingertips, without the need to write a single line of code—the service will do everything for you.

 

Note: The intent of this service is to make it easier for you to analyze your own stats. Thus, at this time, I ask that you only submit requests for your own profile, not others. Thanks for your cooperation!!

 

Visualizing with Tableau

Of course, the data only gets you part of the way. You’ll now want to create a Tableau Public visualization to share those stats. The data is relatively simple so you can create your own from scratch if you like. However, to give you a jumpstart, I’ve created a starter workbook.

 

 

The workbook will show various information about the author (you) including your profile photo, biographical information, geographic location, and social media links. And it will show your stats, starting with BANs showing the number of visible workbooks, number of views and favorites, the number of people following and followed by you, and the number of years you’ve been on public. A bar chart will show each of you vizzes—you can toggle it to show the number of views or the number of favorites. On the right, you’ll see an area chart which shows the number of visualizations you’ve published each month of your time as a Tableau Public user. And, finally, you’ll see a workbook thumbnail. This will default to your “featured viz,” but you can select other vizzes on the bar chart and the thumbnail will update. You can also click on that thumbnail to view the viz on Tableau Public.

 

But perhaps my favorite feature is the ability to change the colors (this was actually Kevin’s idea so I have to give him credit). If you click the wheel icon in the upper right-hand corner, you’ll be able to choose from a selection of 25 different color themes.

 

 

What’s great about this is that you can find a color palette that perfectly ties in with your featured viz. For example, I can match my Equal Width Sankey by changing the theme to dark teal.

 

 

One final feature of the template is the Data Dictionary sheet, which provides a list of all the fields in your Google Sheet, along with a description of each. I’ve been working with the Public API for years now, but for the uninitiated, this will serve as a good reference so that you can be sure you’re using the right fields. Note: You can also access the data dictionary in spreadsheet form here: Stats Data Dictionary

 

Using the Starter Template

To use the template, you need to connect it to your own Google Sheet. Here are the exact steps you’ll need to take to do that:

 

1) Download – Download the Starter Template, open it, then click the Data Source tab.

 

2) Connect to Google – Most likely, you’ll now be prompted to connect to your Google Account. Enter your Google account email and password and click Allow. Note: It’s possible that the email field will show my email address. If so, just clear that out and enter your own.

 

The workbook contains five different data sources. Three of those—Colors, Data Dictionary, and Measure Toggle—are utility data sources used to control different functionality in the workbook. These are linked to publicly-accessible Google Sheets so you don’t need to edit them. The other two—Tableau Public Stats and Profile Websites—need to be edited to connect to your Google Sheet.

 

3) Edit Data Sources – Select the Tableau Public Stats data source and edit the connection. When prompted, select your Google Sheet. Repeat this process for the Profile Websites data source.

 

4) Verify – Flip back to the dashboard and verify that both the stats and social media links look accurate. If any are still linked to my data, repeat the previous step until everything is accurate.

 

4) Publish – Finally, publish to Tableau Public. When prompted, be sure to select the option, Keep my data in sync with Google Sheets and embed my Google credentials. By selecting this, you’ll be instructing Tableau Public to automatically refresh your data each day. Note: When saving, you’ll likely be prompted to connect to Google again. This will happen up to 5 times—once for each data source. Just be sure to connect to your Google account each time.

 

Of course, now that you’ve connected the workbook to your own data, it’s yours to do what you please. Feel free to make whatever modifications you like, customizing it to meet your own needs.

 

There are a few minor tweaks I foresee many people wanting to make—changing the default thumbnail, changing the views measure (thousands vs raw numbers), and changing the colors—so let me explain how to make those changes.

 

Default Thumbnail

The workbook will automatically default to your featured viz. In the bar chart, that viz will be colored using the theme’s accent color and that viz’s thumbnail will be displayed on the bottom right. Clicking on other bars will change these, but the workbook is set up using a dynamic parameter which will automatically change them back to your featured viz whenever the workbook is opened. So, even if you publish the workbook with another viz selected, it will revert each time someone opens it. To undo this, you’ll need to edit the Selected Viz parameter and change value when workbook opens to Current value.

 

 

You’ll then need to do the same thing with the Thumbnail URL parameter. This will turn off the dynamic parameters used to load the featured viz. You can now select whichever viz you want and publish it, without it reverting back to your featured viz.

 

Views Measure

The toggle button above the bar chart allows you to change it to display either Favorites or Views. When toggled to show views, the label shows the count in thousands, by default. If you prefer to show the raw number, simply change the Show in Thousands parameter to False.

 

Colors

The final change you might like to make is to choose your own color theme. As noted earlier, I’ve provided a selection of 25 different themes and I’m hopeful you’ll be able to find one that works for you. But, if not, you can modify the colors manually. You’ll need to specify your new colors in three different places:

 

1) Open the Links sheet and change the color. This will update the color on a variety of dashboard components.

 

2) Open the Views sheet (the bar chart) and change the color. You’ll need to specify the primary color and the accent color.

 

3) Open the Published by Date sheet (the area chart), select the second axis, and change the color of the first item (the second should remain white).

 

Wrap-Up

Okay, so that’s it. I’m really hoping that you find this service valuable and easy to use. And I’m really excited about seeing many of your Tableau Public Stats vizzes—whether you use my template or create your own from scratch. If you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to reach out to me by either commenting below or using form on the website. Thanks so much for reading!!


 

Ken Flerlage, March 15, 2021

Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub | Tableau Public



5 comments:

  1. This floored me! Great read and service Ken. Quick question - is there a resource that explains how to keep your Tableau dashboard automatically refreshed when connected to a Google Sheet? thanks again.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Joshua! Glad you like it. The following seems to be a pretty good guide: https://michelburnett27.medium.com/using-google-sheets-with-tableau-public-509b853b116

      The key points I've found are: 1) Your data source cannot contain anything else other than Google Sheets--if you join to an Excel or text file, for instance, it won't auto-refresh and 2) Be sure to check the box labeled "keep my data in sync with Google" when you publish.

      Happy to help if you run into any issues. My email if flerlagekr@gmail.com

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    2. SUPER! Thanks Ken. You're a gentleman and a scholar.

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  2. Hi Ken

    Wondering if you could help me sort out an issue with my desktop trial version. I am just unable to add an image to my dashboard. It pops up as blank!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure. Can you email me? flerlagekr@gmail.com. Another great option, which might result in a more timely answer, would be to post on the Tableau Community Forums.

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