Notes on a Dashboard: Custom and On the Fly!


Often we want to add text to help explain a dashboard's data story and highlight insights for our viewers. (For example, explaining a surge in sales in a weekly update to executives.)

However, in the real world, many of our users may not have the proper permissions to edit content on Tableau Server and we might not want to overwrite a workbook every time new notes are needed.

The solution is to have the ability to create and edit notes for the dashboard on the dashboard.

But how, you ask?! Simple... We are going to use parameters!

Ready to download the example workbook? Click here.

Contents:   (Click to Jump to)
Step 1:  Create Parameters for Note Entry
Step 2:  Create Calculated Fields to Display the Parameter Value
Step 3:  Display the Notes on the Dashboard
Step 4:  Hide the Note Entry Parameters

Step 1: Create Parameters for Note Entry

The amazing thing about parameters is there is no character limit. If we had a DBA create a field in the backend for notes, then we are most likely subject to a character limitation. Flat files are limited to 255 characters per field and SQL Server character limits depend on the database and driver combinationIf we create a calculated field for notes, not everyone may have the correct permissions to edit the calculation and we would have to overwrite the workbook every time new notes are needed.
Using parameters for customizable, on the fly the note entry is the perfect solve for unlimited character strings and enables true self-service for users.
Each header and paragraph will need its own parameter. This is so we can have different formats for each parameter value and because we cannot have line breaks in the parameter values. (I like to number the different entry parameters in order they will appear as notes.)
All parameters will be String data types and have "All" for Allowable values.
Here is the parameter for the header of our notes.
Since we want a line break for our notes, we create two parameters.

Step 2: Create Calculated Fields to Show the Notes

This is a super simple step. We only need to reference the parameter in the calculated field. That's it!

Step 3: Display the Notes on the Dashboard

To display the notes on the dashboard, we create a worksheet and bring in the calculated fields we just created into the Text on the marks card. 
It is here we can introduce formatting.

Place the worksheet on the dashboard where you'd like to display the notes.

Step 4: Hide the Note Entry Parameters

Time to put the rabbit in the hat! These parameters do not need to be exposed to the end user, so we're going to hide them from the default view but still have them available to edit. To accomplish this task, we are going to create a floating vertical container, place the parameters in the container, hide the menu, and then toggle from floating to tiled.

1. Create a floating vertical container.

2. Place the parameters in the floating container.

3. Click on the down arrow of the floating parameter, and select "Add Show/Hide Button"
4. Next, click on the "X" and select "Edit Button..."
5. For this step, I make the button the title of the notes. To do this, choose "Text Button" for the Button Style and type "Dashboard Notes" for the Title when the item is hidden.

When toggled to "Item Shown", type "Enter Notes" and (if you'd like) include a text arrow " ----->" pointing towards where the floating container will pop up. (You are able to move the "shown" floating container with your mouse and place it where you'd like it to appear.)

5. Next, unselect "Floating" and place the title above the notes already placed on the dashboard.

And that's all there is to it!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments. 

Happy vizzing!