What Does Show Me Really Show Me?

In the past few weeks I’ve had a nice experience working with a business consultant from Tableau collaborating on a project with a shared client. In one of our working sessions I was building a requested visualization for the client when I got a tap on my shoulder

from the Tableau consultant. “Why don’t you just use Show Me?”, she asked.

I’ve honestly never really considered this question, as I rarely if ever use the Show Me card. My response to her was simply, “That’s just not how I like to work with Tableau.” The Show Me card implies, at least to me, that Tableau is going to decide for me. While I appreciate the functionality, and agree that it is invaluable to new desktop users, I just don’t care to us it myself.

I’ve been chewing on this question since it was asked, and saw this week’s Makeover Monday data set as a good opportunity to give Show Me a try. The data on Facebook’s carbon footprint was simply and straight forward, a perfect test case for Show Me: Two dimensions and a single measure. What could go wrong? I made a change to every single chart type outside of the standard text table. Show Me produced nice visualizations, but it cannot read minds. Labels, colors, sorting.. all things that frequently came up that I had to manually configure anyway. The visualizations that Show Me produces are fairly straight forward.. so why not just create them myself and have total control over what is built?

Another vote for not using show me is for the learning experience. We have all at one time in our careers gone to Stack Overflow and copy/pasted another’s code without knowing why we were using that code.. all we really know is that it works for some reason. If we had instead taken the time to read the entire question and responses, we might have a better understanding of the code itself. Using Show Me is like copying code from Stack Overflow. Building your visualizations yourself is like understanding code you copied from Stack Overflow.

Without further ado.. here is a cluster of a dashboard I created using Show Me only. For every chart, I duplicated the sheet and created my own version of the Show Me chart with only minor tweaks to the setup. In conclusion.. I think I will continue to not use Show Me, with the exception of box-and-whisker charts, treemaps, and packed bubbles.

Click the image to explore the interactive version of the dashboard

Makeover Monday Week 23 - Show Me

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