Drill up & down for Date fields

Ad-hoc data exploration is one of the areas in which Tableau really shines.  When getting familiar with a new data set or viewing a new dashboard or report, the ability to quickly make adjustments and view a visualization in a number of different ways offers a perspective on the data that is at once simple, powerful and user-friendly.  In the 10.1 Beta, we’ve been given a preview of another new feature to be included in the upcoming release that gives us one more great tool for exploring our data: One-click drill-up and down for date fields.  Let’s take a look…

Here’s a basic Area chart showing Sales by Quarter for a handful of Product categories:



Area chart with Product Category Sales by Quarter.

This gives us a quick understanding that our Sales have been steadily increasing year-over-year for this period, and that Q4 is generally the strongest Quarter each year. But, let’s say we wanted to look into these numbers in a little more detail…


Note the “+/-” control at the lower left in the Date axis


If you hover on the Date axis, on the bottom left of the screen you’ll see a little +/- control.  These allow you to quickly change the granularity of the date.  In previous versions this sort of change required clicking on various Pills in the column shelf to drill down, and then manually removing the individual levels one-by-one in order to return to a higher level of date detail.  Now you can make these changes in a single click – so much easier!

Year level of Date detail.

Year level of Date detail.



Month level of Date detail.

Week level of Date detail.

Week level of Date detail.


Day level of Date detail.

Day level of Date detail.

Selecting the “-” brings it up to the Year level, while selecting “+” takes us down to the Month, Week or even Day level of granularity with just a click. We can now see that there are particular weeks and even individual days where Sales were particularly strong or weak, and we can now look into what was going on at those times in related areas like Marketing campaigns, specific Promotions or product offers, weather events, etc. These insights can help determine what efforts have been effective and what has not in order to guide future activities and decisions. With the addition of this simple Drill up/down feature in 10.1 this process of data exploration by date is greatly simplified and a much more intuitive and seamless user experience.

Stay tuned here at Acumen’s Insightful Thinking blog – over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a look at more of the features coming in 10.1, and taking a deeper dive into some of the newer v10 tools and functions.

Thanks for reading!