WorkoutWednesday S02 E48 – Waterfall chart with a twist

Do you enjoy working with Tableau? Are you looking for an additional challenge? Workout Wednesday might be what you need. WorkoutWednesday a set of weekly challenges from  Andy Kriebel and Emma Whyte (for 2017) and Rody Zakovich and Luke Stanke. (For 2018) designed to test your knowledge of Tableau and help you improvise your development skills. The idea is to replicate the challenge that they pose as closely as possible. When you think you have it, leave a comment with a link to your visualization and post a pic on Twitter for others to enjoy.

2017 WorkoutWednesday Challenge: Link

2018 WorkoutWednesday Challenge: Link


Waterfall charts are ideal for showing how you have arrived at a net value, by breaking down the cumulative effect of positive and negative contributions. This is very helpful for many different scenarios, from visualizing financial statements to navigating data about population, births and deaths.

The initial value and the resulting total value are represented by bars in the visualization, and the value changes in-between are shown as floating blocks that indicate the ups and downs. As a means to follow the development of the value from start to end, transition lines can be added between the blocks.

By default, positive value changes are indicated by a green color, and negative value changes by a red color. If you want, you can specify another coloring.

1.Connect to the “Sample – Superstore Subset ” excel file which comes along with Tableau 2018.3. In order to find it, navigate to Documents, My Tableau Repository-> Datasources and then select the file. You can also download it from website.

In the Data pane, under Dimensions, right-click Sub Category, and select Create > Set.

In the Create Set dialog box that opens, do the following:

  1. In the Name text box, type Top N Sub Category by Sales.

  2. Click the Top tab.

  3. Select By Field.

  4. From the field drop-down list (Category), select Sales.

  5. From the aggregation drop-down list, select Sum.

  6. When finished, click OK.

7. Now as per the requirement , we need to bucket all other subcategories into “Other” Sub category which are not part of “Top 5 Sub Category by Sales” Set.

8. Drag Sub – Category Bucketing dimension to the Columns Shelf and a Sales measure to the Rows Shelf.

9. Add a Running Sum of Total Table Calculation to the Sales measure on the rows shelf. To do this, right-click on the Sales pill, select Quick Table Calculation-> Running Total.

10.Change the mark type from Automatic to Gantt Bar in the Marks Card.

11.Create a calculated filed named “-Sales” and write the following formula: –Sum([Sales])

12.Drag the newly created field “– Sales” to the size tab on the Marks Card. Previously, we only had a singular line when we changed the marks from Automatic to Gnatt  denoting where the Running Sum of Sales stood from one Sub categories to the next. We want to backfill all of the space from one bar to the next and therefore show the growth (or contraction). Positive values will therefore extend our bar upwards and negative values will extend the bar downwards and your worksheet will look like the below image.

  • To show grand totals in a visualization:
  • Click the Analytics pane.
  • In the Analytics pane, under Summarize, drag Totals into the Add Totals dialog, and drop it over either the Row Grand Total

If you have observed the chart carefully,Luke already mentioned two important points just below the Chart header.
1) Bars sized by Sales – we already Implemented in the above mentioned step
2) Colors/ Label by Profit Ratio – We will be implementing now.

13. Create a new Calculated Field Called “Color”. Add this Boolean  Field to the color tab on the marks card and edit the colors and assign gray color (#ACBAC3) to the “True” and Pink Color (#E48070) to “False”.

The most challenging requirement is to add an individual dashed line that connects to All Bar.

14. To add a reference line,drag Reference Line from the Analytics pane and Select Sum(Sales) as its value and  “Cell” as Scope. This Solves our problem Partially  because we still need connected dotted line .

As you can see in the image , the cumulative total is equal to the Total Sales . So we will be using Total(Sum(Sales)) Table calculation as our 2nd Reference line which connects the 1st bar with the  last bar through the dotted line.

Next job is to add another dashed line that connects the “All” Bar with the other Bar.In other words,we need to draw  dotted lines that starts with the bar and connect with the existing Sum(Sales) reference line.

We can achieve the same by subtracting Cumulative sales with the existing Sales and your formula should look like the below image.

Pull this new calculated field  from your measure Pane and put it beside Running Sum calculation and set to Dual Axis with Gnatt Marks.On top of that axis, lets create another reference following the same steps mentioned above.

Now we have another axis in place we can use this secondary axis for getting the Sub category Labels.Drag “Profit Ratio” on text mark which labels each bar with the Actual Profit Ratio. Click on the Text Marks ->Alignment > vertical ->Bottom to put the label below the bottom line of each bar. Your Worksheet will look like the below image.

15. Dont Forget to change the label from Grand Total to “ALL”. Now Drag Region on filter shelf and change it to context Filter. Put this worksheet on dashboard and add a background color and present it to your stakeholders.

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About the Author: Rajeev Pandey

I am a multidisciplinary designer working in data visualization, interaction design and innovation. Expertise in developing Tableau, Web focus based visualization and reporting applications. I have a passion for analyzing, dissecting, and manipulating data sets as well as, building beautiful dashboard. Naturally talented in communicating between technology and business needs. Diverse and experienced in plenty of different domains .I am quick learner who can absorb new ideas and can communicate clearly and effectively.I love creativity and enjoy experimenting with various technologies.

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