Tableau: Using Set Actions (recap from TUG meeting)


At the TUG Slovenia meeting, we took a closer look at the Tableau’s one of the most exciting new features – set actions.

Users usually interact with your visualizations by selecting marks, or hovering, or clicking a menu, and the actions you set up can respond with navigation and changes in the view. It adds a new level of interactivity to the workbooks and dashboards.

With the version of Tableau 2018.3, we now have the following actions available:

  • Filter: Use the data from one view to filter data in another to help guide analysis.
  • Highlight: Call attention to marks of interest by coloring specific marks and dimming all others.
  • Go to URL: Create hyperlinks to external resources, such as a web page, file, or another Tableau worksheet.
  • Go to Sheet: Simplifies navigation to other worksheets, dashboards, or stories.
  • Change Set Values: Users can change the values that are in a set by directly interacting with visualization.

Set actions take an existing set and update the values contained in that set based on a user’s action in the report/visualization. You can define the set action to include:

  • the source sheet or sheets it applies to.
  • the user behavior that runs the action (hover, select, or menu).
  • the target set (the data source and set to be used).
  • what happens when the selection is cleared.

To change or affect a visualization, the set referenced in the action must be used somehow in the visualization. You can do this in different ways, such as using the set in a calculated field that you then use to build the viz, or by placing the set in the view or on a Marks card property.

Set actions must be created in Tableau Desktop to be available for use in Tableau Online and Tableau Server.

In the live demo I presented a few examples and use cases for simply implementing set actions in our reports:

Proportional Brushing– It is a method of interacting with data. When you select some marks in one view, instead of filtering other views, the other views show the proportion of the selected items in relation to all items.

Asymmetric drill down

Set actions can also be used across multiple sets for more complex interactions. 
If a data set has hierarchical information, such as Category, Sub-Category, and Product, normally drilling down the hierarchy expands all values at a given level. 
However, you can use set actions for asymmetric drill down, opening only the next hierarchy level for the selected value.

Using Chart as a dimension:

The set action in this example is applied to the Timeline sheet (line chart) in the dashboard and drives the behavior of the dashboard. 
When a user selects period in the timeline view, the set action updates the “selected months” set with a date range and changes the dashboard view.

Attached you can find Tableau workbook used and databases(excel files) needed.