If you’ve ever had to look up the X / Y or latitude / longitude coordinates to create a custom map in Tableau, you’re grateful for the powerful map features that come out of the box with the software. By simply double-clicking a dimension that Tableau recognizes as a geographic field, thousands of locations are instantly plotted on a map. This saves you the countless hours required to look up the coordinates manually or the need to purchase additional licensing to use maps.
Tableau comes with three different map styles out of the box that can be used by navigating to Map > Map Layers in the top navigation; the end user can choose between Light (the default style), Normal, and Dark. This post shares how to use 14 additional map styles for free, and with very little effort.
The solution to adding these 14 custom styles is a service called Mapbox; an integration that shipped with Tableau 9.2. I wanted to write this tutorial because even though the feature came out three versions ago, I don’t see many users taking advantage of it. Custom map styles are a great way to add style to your data visualization, and this tutorial will show you how easy it is to integrate Mapbox with your Tableau maps.
How to Add 14 Custom Tableau Maps with Mapbox
1. Sign up for a free account at Mapbox at https://www.mapbox.com/studio/signup/
2. From the Home tab within your Mapbox account, note the Access Token on the right side of the page
3. Create a map in Tableau. Here is an example Tableau map looking at Sales and Profit Ratio by City in the Sample – Superstore dataset.
4. Navigate to Map > Background Maps > Map Services in the top navigation.
5. After the dialog box appears, click Add and choose “Mapbox Maps…”.
6. Navigate to the Classic tab, give the map a name, paste your access token noted in step 2 above, and choose your style!
Here’s how my final Tableau map looks after choosing the Basic style, clicking OK, and closing the Map Services dialog box.
Thanks for reading,
This content is excerpted from my book Practical Tableau: 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen Master published by O’Reilly Media Inc., 2018, ISBN: 978-1491977316. Get the book at Amazon.