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Removing Default ABC Placeholder in Tableau

Posted by Poliparthi Maheswararao

Tableau, a multipurpose tool gives users the freedom to exercise their creativity when developing visually rich reporting. Among its various liberties of building new views, altering the default formats of fields, creating new fields, and customizing the content there are some default functionalities that can hamper the otherwise overwhelming experience. One such functionality is the “Abc” placeholder.

Available by default in Tableau, the column is provided to add potential or discrete values. Tableau leaves the empty column with “Abc” placeholder text in every row. While the additional column can be advantageous, it can also be a cause of distraction during presentations, as it does not hold any significant value. Also, the “Abc” placeholder can lead to undesirable table view of the displayed information.

There are various approaches to remove the “Abc” placeholder. We are going to discuss some of the approaches based on Superstore sample data with a view containing State, Segment band, Category, Sub-category on rows, and determine the best technique to make the representation look aesthetically pleasing.

Approach 1

  • Drag and drop all the dimensions (State, Segment, Category and Sub-category) into rows shelf.
  • Create a calculation field as shown below.
  • Give the calculated field a name and in the formula text box, type two quotation (” “) marks with a space in between the quotation marks.

  • Put the calculation field in text shelf.

  • Now manually re-size the last column and decrease its size to get rid of the column.

The drawback of this approach is that even after decreasing the size to minimal amount, we would be getting one additional line (border), which we would not be able to remove and the table will not look visually aesthetic.

Approach 2

  • Drag and drop all the dimensions (State, Segment, Category and Sub-category) into rows shelf, similar to ‘Approach 1’
  • Now create two calculation fields.
    • We name one of the field ‘Heading’, similar to the previous step and type two quotation (” “) marks with a space in between in the formula text box.

 

  • Name the second field ‘Null’, with null function.

 

 

  • Now, put the ‘Heading’ calculation in the column field and ‘NULL’ calculation in the text field.
  • Manually decrease the size of the cell.

The drawback of this approach is similar to the previous one.

Approach 3

  • Follow the strategy of dragging and dropping all the dimensions (State, Segment, Category and Sub-category) into rows shelf.
  • Create a calculation field with name ‘Heading’.
  • Remove the rightmost field from rows shelf and place it in the text shelf.

Since we moved the last dimension (Sub-Category) in the Text field, we do not see the segregation between the values related to same (Category) dimension. We will need to fix the row width manually to accommodate all (Sub-Category) values. If we input more values, in the future, dotted line (…) will appear in the Sub-Category field.

Approach 4

  • Drag and drop all the dimensions (State, Segment, Category and Sub-category) into rows shelf.
  • Change the ‘marks’ selection to polygon.
  • Here, we can decrease the size of the cell.

The problem of additional border persists even in this approach.

Approach 5

  • This approach works only if we are working with at least one measure.
  • Drag and drop all the dimensions (State, Segment, Category and Sub-Category) into rows shelf.
  • Drag and drop measure names to filter shelf and select the ‘measure values’ that you want to display.
  • Drag and drop measure names to column shelf.
  • Place the measure values into text shelf.

The approach will not work if user wishes to create views only with Dimensions.

Approach 6

  • Drag and drop all the dimensions (State, Segment, Category and Sub-Category) into rows shelf.
  • Create one calculation field heading as mentioned in initial approaches.
  • Don’t use any hierarchy, means category and sub-category should always be in different fields.
  • Drag and drop rightmost field (Sub-category) into text shelf.
  • Right-click on the rightmost dimension field (Sub-category) and uncheck the show header.
  • Now, we do not see the header, so we right-click on the blank header field and select the edit-alias to give the header a name (Sub-Category).

This approach is believed to be the best approach to resolve the “Abc” placeholder issue in Tableau. It will not only remove the “Abc” placeholder and the entire column but also speed up the layout rendering. Eliminating the “Abc” placeholder will improve the aesthetics and allow you to display information more freely.

As one of the most prominent visual representation tools, such a shortcoming can affect the experiences of the users. Now that we know the work around “Abc” placeholder, we can easily take it out of the equation and use the space as per our requirement.

That is all from us for the time being.

Until next time!

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