How the EXCEL?! / Tableau

How the EXCEL do I understand Marimekko?! Tableau Toddler Guide

With Tableau 10 came the ability to add Marimekko charts.  Now, keep in mind, these are considered advanced visualization for a reason.  Simple people like me get distracted and take 20 minutes to even figure out how to the read these.  This, kids, is the Tableau Toddler edition of Marimekko.

Do you look at these charts and feel confused or overwhelmed?  Do you wonder what in the world it’s trying to tell you?  Do you get lost in all the information?  If the answer is yes anywhere, this is the post for you! Those kids past kindergarten (the ones who said they have this), you got a lot of other posts to read.

Bora Beran’s Beta Marimekko Starter

Jonathan Drummey’s Master Thread of Marimekko

At first, I tried burrowing.  After all, people make careers out of dodging all kinds of things – why not charts?  Then, in acting as a reviewer for Joshua Milligan’s forthcoming Learning Tableau 10 book, I was forced to address the looming presence of Marimekko.

Scary Marimekko

Joshua does a great job in his book on making these.  For me, part of my issue is in reading these.  Similar to trying to sleep during a rave, these charts give me all kinds of shiny.

Here’s what finally helped – don’t laugh…

Simplify by adding more complexity – works like a charm!

Part of my block with these is the running sum issue.  That, and some people – or maybe most people – color these bad boys across and not down.  I rarely do a running sum across things like region, because in my mind, it makes no sense.  Keep in mind, I’m also the same person who can read brake versus break and be confused when the wrong one is used (as in ‘I’m going to take a 15 minute brake now’), and not realize why – Hooked on Phonics did not work for me.  To me, running sum places an order or dependency on these things, which is where my head does the equivalent of the Mac spinning ball of doom.  It made more sense to me to express this as part of a percent, giving a matrix percent view of the world.  It’s probably not right, but it is what worked for my understanding.

Marimekko 098 version

To support this, I got rid of ALL the axis, so I stopped focusing on them.  Without the running sum issue, I added categories to the top and bottom.  Yes, I could combine them, but for sake of understanding, I needed them split here.  To ensure that all original information was included, I put in the total.  With so many square things, I used a bubble to let my brain (shiny!!!!) know this was something different.  I colored the categories with some consistency so that I’d know darkest to light the categories were the same, but kept the colors that went with region.

I’m still trying to sort this in my head.  I think this is going to be one of those evolution things.  Until I get it sorted, BUBBLES for TOTALS!  And yes, I hear the sirens of the viz police coming.

If you’re too lazy to click over to Jonathan Drummey’s post to learn to do these the right way, you can follow my entirely different set of steps that may or may not yield the results you’re looking for.  You’ve been warned.  Jonathan does a FAR better job explaining this.  I’ll just give you the Cliff’s Notes of what worked for me.

  1. Steal these calcs:
    1. Sales for Region: IF FIRST() == 0
      THEN MIN({EXCLUDE [Category] : SUM(Sales)})
      ELSEIF LOOKUP(MIN([Region]), -1) != MIN([Region])
      THEN PREVIOUS_VALUE(0) + MIN({EXCLUDE [Category] : SUM(Sales)})
      ELSE
      PREVIOUS_VALUE(0)
      END
    2. Size: {EXCLUDE [Category] : SUM(Sales)}
  2. Add Region and Category (or other selected items) to the view (control-click (command click on Mac) so you can pick two at once or you’ll make yourself crazy).  Arrange to proper order (Region, then Category).
  3. Put Sales on rows.  Set Sales to % of Total and choose Category.  You should have a stacked mess up to 400%.  You didn’t do it wrong.
  4. Add Sales for Region (first calc).  Change to bars.  You should have 4 stacked skinny messes at 100%.  You didn’t do it wrong.
  5. Add Size to size. Now you should have a stacked wide mess all on top of each other.  You didn’t do it wrong.
  6. Click Size and align right.  It should look like the above if you used SuperStore with a bit more of the default colors.  Change your colors if you want.

Didn’t work?  I highly suggest reading Jonathan’s post.

PS – I have Merry Mekko trademarked as well.

PPS – Don’t know when it’s coming out, but I imagine soon, buy the latest version of Joshua’s book.  It’s the least you can do since I stole his calcs for my own benefit.  It’s Tableau Toddler approved!

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