How to Avoid Highlighting Dashboard Action Selections

A Trick for Getting Around Tableau’s Default Highlight Formatting

By default, Tableau highlights dashboard action selections by graying out non-selected dimension members, but this format is not always ideal. Learn how to use a dummy calculated field and an extra dashboard action to create a better user experience.

Hi, this is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’m going to show you a quick tip that allows you to avoid highlighting dashboard action selections. To illustrate, we’re going to use this simple dashboard that I’ve got set up that shows a highlight table at the top that doubles as a color legend and a navigation, and then a dual-axis waterfall chart is what I call this below.

This has some dashboard actions setup to where if I click a certain region it will filter that waterfall chart below. So I click South, it all turns blue. Click West, all turns that turquoise color. And this is a nice little user experience. In this particular case, I kind of like that the selection is being highlighted. It’s making it very clear to the user what is being shown on the view. If I go back to East, not only does the chart turn red, but there’s a little bit of extra highlight. Notice the Central, South, and West regions get kind of grayed out in the background.

For this particular case, again, I don’t mind that. I kind of like it. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes I’d rather have that navigation bar be more seamless and not highlight like that. I’d rather just see the whole bar with all the bold colors. And that’s what I’m going to show you how to do. This is a useful technique any time you don’t want a dashboard action selection to be highlighted on the view.

I’m going to start by going to the navigation sheet, and I’m going to make a new calculated field that I call Don’t Highlight. And the key with this calculated field is really just to create it, just that it exists. This will end up being a dummy field that we use to automatically select everything so that everything gets highlighted at the same time.

So really the key is just that it exists. The text within this calculated field can be whatever you want. Just to be very explicit, I’ll type, quote, “Don’t highlight” again, and then end quote. Note, the data type is String. Again, you can type whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to click OK.

Now that I’ve got that calculated field, the critical step is to place it onto the Detail Marks Card of whatever I am applying the dashboard action to. Note, when I applied it to the Detail Marks Card, it shows up on the view, but nothing changed. It’s not affecting anything. It’s not affecting the visual itself. I’m just going to have access to that field later when I go to add a dashboard action.

So that’s it for the foundation. I’m going to go back to my dashboard and add another action. I already had an action set up that was doing my filtering user experience. But I’m going to click Add Action again and this time choose Highlight. And I’ll call this my Don’t Highlight action. And I will say that if you select the Highlight Table– that’s the navigation at the top– I want you to target the Highlight Table.

But here’s the key step. Instead of All Fields, I’m going to go to Selected Fields and only have it run on Don’t Select. If I left it as All Fields, it would filter on Region. So when I clicked on a different region, I’d only see one block appear. I don’t want the rest of the navigation to go away. So I’m going to get more specific in what fields I’m using by clicking the Selected Fields radio button and only selecting the Don’t Highlight field. This is why it was so critical that that calculated field existed. If I didn’t add it to the Detail Marks Card, it wouldn’t be here as a choice.

That Don’t Select calculated field isn’t tied to any particular region. It’s actually tied to all the regions at the same time. That’s why this is going to work. Because Don’t Highlight is applied to all four of my regions, when you click any of the regions, it’s going to have this dashboard action generate the highlight across everything that has that field. In other words, it’s going to generate that highlight for everything.

So now, when I click OK to close this– click OK to close this again. Let’s go to Presentation mode to test this out. If I click Central, not only does the chart change, but the three remaining values are still bold. What’s technically happening is they’re all being highlighted. And this will work as I click across the entire view– East, South, West.

This has been Ryan with Playfair Data TV – thanks for watching!