One of the primary struggles for dashboard designers in our world of rapidly proliferating devices is finding ways to make that amazing dashboard you’ve just created look and function at its best across a variety of desktop, laptop and mobile platforms. Data drives the modern business landscape, and getting important data into the hands of the users that need it when they need it means making your dashboards both available and optimized for all of these formats.  Some new or updated features in Tableau 10 are intended to assist designers and developers in addressing these challenges.  Today we’ll be focusing on the Dashboard Sizing, Layout and Device Preview features in Tableau’s latest release.  Let’s take a look at each in a little more detail.

Dashboard Sizing

Tableau has revamped the Dashboard Sizing controls to give designers a more flexible and adaptive means of defining the size of dashboards.  In the left-hand sidebar of your dashboard you’ll notice that the ‘Size’ section has been moved to the top.  Selecting the drop-down reveals that we have the option to select ‘Fixed size’ or ‘Automatic’ sizing as we have in the past, or the new ‘Range’ option.  This allows the designer to define the Min and Max sizes for a dashboard to allow some flexibility, while still enabling constraints to prevent some of the unwanted effects that a purely ‘Automatic’ size setting can sometimes create.

   

Size menu

New location of Size menu

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Selecting the Range option

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Min and Max range options

 

Layout

The new Layout feature sits alongside the ‘Dashboard’ tab in the left-hand sidebar.  This section gives us the ability to both view and specify the sizing and positioning of individual objects on the dashboard.  When objects are tiled or set in containers the size and positioning info is viewable, but greyed out.  When an object is floating, we can specify both the x/y position and the exact height and width of the object.
Tiled object

Tiled object

 

layout-floating

Floating object

Device Preview

Back on the ‘Dashboard’ tab, you’ll find the ‘Device Preview’ feature.  This provides the ability to see exactly how your dashboard will appear on a wide selection of common or custom device screens.
device-type-1

Device type selections

tablet-type

Tablet types

Once you’ve selected a Device type and Model, you’ll see a preview border appear which defines the on-screen area the user would see on that device.  This allows you to make adjustments to the sizing and layout settings of your dashboard and then get a real-world preview of the view that end-users would have in a broad variety of scenarios.  This feature should dramatically speed up the process of UX testing and revision.
preview-1

View of a 1200 x 820 dashboard as it would appear on an iPad mini. Note the considerable amount of dashboard real estate that would exceed the user’s screen size

Summary

Tableau has taken some major steps forward with the addition of these features in Version 10, providing dashboard designers and developers with some much-needed improvements in functionality and flexibility for getting their dashboards to look and perform their best, while also greatly improving the workflow and procedural aspects for some of the most time-consuming and frustrating elements of the dashboard design and delivery process.  Tableau is enhancing the ability to capitalize on your organization’s investment in its data systems by helping to streamline the dashboard delivery experience on the development side, and optimizing the end user experience so that the executives, decision makers and teams in the field can make effective and timely use of those dashboards when and where they are most needed.