Week two of #MakeoverMonday in 2017 looked at the apparent cessation of growth in iPhone sales, with 2016 the first year since the inception of the product in which prior year sales were not exceeded.

My take on the dataset was quick, simple and playful, but I still managed to squeeze in a basic, but new, piece of learning. LOOKUP() is a nice little function, and was required as I actually put in (a tiny bit of) effort to my tooltips this week:


Definitions of “effort” vary, and the “effort” expended here was limited to the addition of a calculation not in the original source. I wanted to add [Prior Year Sales (in millions)] to make abundantly clear the quantum of the year-on-year change. Doing so involved putting into practise the LOOKUP() function, which I have dabbled with in recent weeks:


It is literally impossible to have a simpler implementation of the function, but I’ll tabulate it anyway just to make its role blatantly obvious:


Clearly, the result is that the prior year sales are pulled through, which is all I wanted to achieve. “Good stuff” in Tableau doesn’t have to be fancy. I had a really clear, simple vision of what I wanted to produce and how to do it, so I didn’t need a fancy chart type or mind-boggling mathematics to get there.

As usual, there was huge variety with the #MakeoverMonday submissions – which you’d expect given the first week generated over 100 different visualisations. One of the early viz’s that caught my eye was from the less fun half of the Data DuoAdam Crahen. It wasn’t an especially complicated looking dashboard (though it’s far more complicated than it looks!), but one element had me completely bamboozled:

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This is a worksheet. How the hell has Adam managed to get a background on there? Look at the structure of the viz – there is no obvious indication as to how this was achieved. I was completely stumped, and even Adam’s input left me none the wiser:

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These tweets, combined with a good old Google search for “Tableau background images” saw me arrive here. That’s a Tableau.com video – you may need to register to access it, and it’s worth it as it prompts another lightbulb moment if you didn’t already know this technique. I mean – what?! Does everyone just know this stuff and I’m on my own buzzing about like a fly in a jar?!


If I show the headers on the viz, the Left, Right, Bottom and Top values become really obvious:

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Wow! So you can import any background image and then stretch it to fix the x and y axis range?! I had absolutely no idea at all that this was possible! As ever, I learn something new every week with #MakeoverMonday.