Lab 10 – Graphing Data II

We are going to change up our plan a little for the labs. We will come back to mapping next week, bumping our other forms of analysis down a week.

You each did great experimenting with the visualizations, and I think we could do with a little more time with Tableau and with the charts. So, today we are going to talk through the graphs you made as well as think about other ways to represent the data.

For new things, we are going to walk through how to create dashboards and stories and talk about what they are useful for. We will also walk through how to publish your work onto Tableau Online to the course server and then embed a view into your website.

Reviewing Your Charts

So first off, what worked? What didn’t work? Who is willing to offer up a chart for us to think with?

Dashboards and Stories

Tableau works according to a modular and additive logic – you have your data, you create individual visualizations on worksheets, you combine visualizations (and other things) to make a point on a dashboard, and you combine points into a story. If you update the data or an individual visualization, it updates across all the dashboards and story-pages that feature the visualization, keeping everything consistent and in sync.

The Dashboard interface enables you to bring together charts, text blocks (for narrative), images, websites, tables, and other digital elements to make an interpretive point. If a visualization is an interpretive claim, a dashboard is a paragraph, and a story is a chapter.

Tableau Dashboard interface

Creating a dashboard is a bit like writing a blog post in WordPress. Tableau offers a WYSIWYG interface and you add content by dragging different elements onto the page and resizing and organizing as needed. Choosing “Floating” rather than the default “Tiled” will give you more control over how items are placed on the page.

Once on a page, each element also has options associated with it that you can access by clicking the down-arrow at the edge of the visualization. This includes adding a caption, filters, and adjusting how it relates to other elements on the page.

Visualization options

As you experiment with the dashboard, use the Tableau documentation as a reference for the different elements and their options.

The stories have a very similar interface and are useful for linking multiple dashboards and visualizations together.

Tableau story interface

Building the story is actually quite a bit more constrained than the dashboard. Each page is composed of one visualization or dashboard, an optional text annotation box, and a top navigation. By default, the navigation is via caption boxes and as you add a story point, you get a new caption box. There are other options for the top navigation elements, which you can control under the “layout” tab.

layout menu in tableau stories

If as you are connecting your “story points” you realize you need to adjust a visualization or a dashboard, you can switch to the sheet, make edits, and the visualization should update across all of your sheets.

It may help to outline your story points or sketch out your visualizations and dashboards as you start to work toward building and presenting an interpretation of your data.

Publish and Embed

The visualizations you have created in Tableau are complex and interactive and only visible to people who can open a Tableau file. But there is a way around this. Tableau (and a number of other data visualization solutions) use online hosting for sharing interactive visualizations.

To upload your data onto the Tableau servers, click on “Server” in the top Tableau menu and select “Sign in”tableau server sign in

Select “Tableau Online” under “Quick Connect” and sign in with your crimson email.

Next, click on “Server” again and choose “Publish Workbook…”. Save to the “REL315-Fall2020” Project with the workbook name of your choice.

Publishing Workbook Menu

If you make changes and republish, use the same filename to overwrite your project (unless it is entirely different).

Now all of your work exists in the cloud! This means that it is now possible to embed visualizations in other web pages, like your blog!

Load up one of your visualizations and click on the “Share” button.

Share button in the Tableau Online interface

From there, click on the “Copy Embed Code” link.Copy the embed code link in the share menu

Now navigate over to your WordPress post.

To add an embed element into WordPress, create a new “Custom HTML” block.

Creating an HTML block in WordPress

Paste the embed code into the block.

Embed code in the WordPress HTML block.

Can you figure out what is going on here? Are there customizing options that you can make out?

To see what this HTML block generates, click “Preview”  and select “Preview in New Tab.”

Tableau visualization embedded in WordPress

Now, as long as you maintain your account with Tableau Online, the readers of your blog can see and interact with your data visualization!


Your homework for this lab will fall into a few parts. If you saved your Workbook from last week, you can build upon your previous work. If not, you will need to start by creating some visualizations (worksheets) to use to build your dashboard and your story.

The narrative aspect of the story or dashboard can be very minimal right now, such as main points and then using lorem ipsum to show where explanatory text might go.

  1. Provide feedback on at least one graph by two of your classmates by Monday. Join the REL315 Hypothesis group ( and use it to leave constructive comments on your classmates’ visualizations.
  2. Create at least one dashboard in Tableau Desktop
  3. Create a “Story” with at least 3 “story points”
  4. Publish your workbook to the REL315 project in Tableau Online (use the login you created before class.)
  5. Embed your workbook in your blog post for Tuesday with some framing text.
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