Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Custom Color Palettes in Tableau

Tableau and Color Palettes

Tableau is a powerful business intelligence tool that allows for interactive visualizations of large sets of data. I have successfully used Tableau to connect to text data sets of more than 2 million rows and have been able to generate large interactive visualizations for biodiversity data sets and departmental annual reports for the UM College of LS&A. Tableau allows users to define their own color palettes using a simple xml based schema, and I have recently coded color schemes for 1) University of Michigan based branding, 2) Wes Anderson Palettes , and 3) some Bauhaus inspired color sets.

You can ignore all the following and just jump to the two links below to get started:

This file assumes a windows operating system, so the file has the default line endings generating by the Context Text Editor in windows.

Wolverine Maize and Blue

The university of Michigan has a design principles guide that defines brand standards and establishes a style guide for UM colors.

UM Color Palette

I defined a set of UM based color palettes around this scheme

  • UM Maize to Blue -- a diverging color from maize to blue for use for tagging continuous data
  • UM Web -- the set of UM web colors for identifiying categorical data
  • UM Print Neutral -- the set of neutral and muted colors for print media
  • UM Print Bright -- the set of bright colors for print media
  • UM Print All -- All primary and secondary colors for print media including metallic
  • UM Expanded -- A small set of expanded colors
Use for a visualization with UM web colors would look like the following:

Wes Anderson Color Palette

The excellent Wes Anderson Palletes tumblr has a fun set of Wes Anderson inspired color palettes. Some of theses have been transformed to color palettes for R (https://github.com/karthik/wesanderson) and I wanted to have access to these in Tableau .

Don't point that gun at him, he's an unpaid intern.

These color palettes all start with the Wes prefix and include all color palettes available from the tumblr on March 18th, 2014.

A 'Life Aquatic' palette visualization is:


My personal aesthetic tends to be drawn to more modern and simple form-follows-function Bauhaus inspired color themes. I've added a simple Bauhaus inspired set along with a color-theory wheel. I will possibly also add a Le Corbusier color set as well.

12 color wheel from Johannes Itten

This set includes:
  • Bauhaus -- Simple 5 color Bauhaus influenced theme
  • Farbkreis -- 12 color color wheel from Johannes Itten
The five color Bauhaus palette looks like: