The Shape Problem

Have you ever wanted to show shapes to represent something such as initiatives or certain steps in a project? Would you want to combine this chart with others so you can filter all items in the same worksheet simultaneously? You can definitely achieve this in Tableau!


In the example below, you can see I set up a different shape icon for the different Sub-categories for the Sample-SuperStore data set. By default, all of the shapes appear on one line.



If you want to make this a dual axis, such as adding a lollipop chart in its current state, this shape format would be lost. Once you add a column item such as Order Date to the Columns shelf, it separates the shapes under those columns.

See the image below for reference;



So how do you combine multiple chart types with one as a shape? Here's how.

Remove the Order Date from the Columns shelf, if you added it.

Right-click on the Columns shelf and create an Index() calculation. You will need to click on this formula and select Compute Using > Sub-Category.


You will notice that the shapes will be ordered and there is an index number on the axis now.

I placed the Sales next to the Index calculation on the Columns shelf to add another chart.

I changed the Mark Type for the Sales Marks card to Bar.

I also added Sales to the Label Marks card and formatted it as Currency. As you see below there are two different charts on one worksheet!


(Please note I have the last Month, Year and Sales person as Filters for this dashboard.)


I created a Calculated field to do a Days to Ship Lollipop chart next to the Shape chart.


Days to Ship

[Ship Date]-[Order Date]


I put this on the Columns shelf next to the Index calculation and before the Sum(Sales) pill. I decreased the size of the bars, changed the color to light gray and then placed another Days to Ship next to the first Days to Ship on the Columns shelf. I then changed the second Days to Ship Marks card to a circle.

I right-clicked on the second to make it a Dual axis. I also synchronized the axis. As you see below, there is yet another chart added to this same worksheet!



The only downside to this method, is that you need to remove the Headers and rely upon your Tool tips or Labels for the user. Also it can look quite busy.


I have this example dashboard in my public site here if you want to download it.


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