Implementing Tableau Context Filter: An Easy Guide 101

Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

Tableau Context Filter: FI

Filters will assist users in filtering out datasets according to their preferences, and Tableau Context Filters will display filtering based on a large database, providing more accurate results and avoiding repetitive work. Tableau Context Filters are used to improve the performance of your queries. Context Filters can cut your data sets down to a tenth of their original size, or even smaller. The number of Context Filters chosen is also very important for performance. It’s also crucial to choose the right type of join if you want to improve performance.

This blog gives you an understanding of Tableau Context Filters and illustrates how to create, remove and speed up Context Filters in Tableau.

Table Of Contents

What is Tableau?

Tableau is a well-known Business Intelligence and Data Analytics tool that was developed to assist in visualizing, analyzing, and understanding complex business data to make data-driven decisions. It is a smart platform that allows businesses to move more quickly and in a way that clients and consumers can understand. The most important feature of this tool is that it makes it extremely simple for users to organize, manage, visualize, and understand data.

Tableau can assist anyone in seeing and comprehending their data. You can connect to any database, create visualizations by dragging and dropping, and share them with a single click. The main objective of Tableau is to help people visualize and understand their data. 

Tableau’s Self-service Analytics platform enables anyone to work with data, regardless of their skill level. It was aimed to help users create visuals and graphics without requiring the assistance of a programmer or any prior programming knowledge. It is a highly scalable and easily deployable platform.

Key Features of Tableau

  • Data Sources: Tableau has plenty of data source options from which you can connect and fetch data. Tableau supports a wide range of data sources, including On-premise files, spreadsheets, relational databases, non-relational databases, Data Warehouses, Big Data, and On-cloud data. Tableau can connect to any of the data sources securely. You can also merge data from multiple sources to create a visual combinatorial view of data. Tableau also works with a variety of data connectors, including Presto, MemSQL, Google Analytics, Google Sheets, and others.
  • Advanced Visualizations: Tableau has a wide range of visualizations, including basic visualizations like a bar chart and a pie chart, as well as advanced visualizations like a histogram, a Gantt chart, a bullet chart, a motion chart, a treemap, and a boxplot. Any kind of visualization can be selected easily under the visualization type from the Show Me tab.
  • Robust Security: Tableau takes all precautions to protect data and offers robust user security. For data connections and user access, its security system relies on authentication and permission systems. It employs row-level Filtering, which aids in the security of the data. It also allows you to connect to other security protocols like Active Directory, Kerberos, and so on.
  • Mobile View: Tableau also provides the mobile version of the software. You can create dashboards and reports that are compatible with your mobile. It also allows you to create customized mobile dashboard layouts that are specific to your mobile device. This feature provides users with a great deal of flexibility and convenience when it comes to managing their data.
  • Cross-Database Join: Tableau 10 introduced Cross-Database Join, a new feature that allows you to cross data between different sources much more quickly and without requiring any additional technical knowledge. A Cross-Database Join combines data from two different databases as if they were one. Data sources that join data from multiple databases are created and published so that other Tableau users can create reports.
  • Live and In-Memory Data: Tableau ensures that both live data sources and data extraction from external data sources are connected as in-memory data. This allows the user to utilize data from multiple types of data sources without restriction. You can use data directly from the data source by setting up live data connections or keeping that data in memory. Several types of Tableau Filters can extract data from a data source as per their requirement.

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What is Tableau Context Filter?

Tableau Context Filter is a type of filter that controls the data for the other filters in Tableau. Normal Filters, on the other hand, process all of the data rows from the data source, regardless of the associated filters. Tableau creates a temporary table to process the data from Context Filters, which is why they’re also known as DEPENDENT FILTERS in Tableau. To improve processing performance, the Context Filter is used. In Tableau, it’s a recommended filter condition for creating visualizations from large datasets. Before adding other filters to improve performance, the Tableau Context Filter should be included in the visualization design.

For example, if you want to filter the department based on the employee, you can exclude employees from other departments at that time. This will be beneficial to the database’s small size. If you have data from multinational corporations with more than 20,000 employees, Tableau Context Filter is the right tool to use. To the relevant dimension, you must apply a Context Filter. The Tableau Context Filter can be added and removed from Tableau.

Key Advantages of Tableau Context Filter

  • Improve Performance: When you’re using a lot of filters at once or working with large data sets, queries can take a long time. Tableau Context Filters can be used to improve performance in these situations because they generate temporary data sets based on the filter criteria. The use of major categorical Context Filters can help you improve performance significantly.
  • Dependent Filter Condition: Context Filters can be used to create conditional filtering based on your needs. When dealing with large data sets, Context Filters should be prioritized. You can use Tableau Context Filters to isolate the data you want, then use a NUMERICAL or TOP N Filter to get the data you want.

Understanding Tableau Context Filter Implementation Process

Tableau Context Filter: How to Create Context Filter

  • Step 1: In this step, you’re going to make a Tableau Context Filter for the order table’s category.
    • First, create a database for a hypothetical superstore.
    • Next, you’ll have to open the sample superstore in Tableau public or private mode.
    • Drag the orders table into the datasheet in Tableau.
    • Next, drag the sales measure to the columns and the sub-category dimension to the sub-category dimension.
    • As you can see below, a bar chart is created by default in Tableau.
  • The Filter will be added to the sub-category (Will Filter out Top 10 or 20 as per the sales).
  • The Filter window will appear when you click on the down arrow of the sub-category.
  • As you can see in the image below, this filter has more options. Show Filter will show all of the filters available in Tableau, such as Condition and TOP. The REMOVE sub-category will be removed from the rows if you click it.
  • The Filter window will open when you click on Filter.
  • The Filter has four options, which are listed below:
    • General: You can select all of the items in the list or just one or two. You can also customize the Wildcard – You can match values from given datasets using terms like contains, starts with, ends with, and exactly. It’s included in the dataset. 
    • Condition:  A Condition means a statement that has a minimum and maximum value.
    • Top: Top 10 or 20, or other value, and Bottom – 10 or 20, or other value. This will be the case with Minimum, Maximum values.
  • Step 2: Go to Top and select Top value after clicking on the filter. Choose Top by 10 and SUM for Sales.
  • Step 3: The top 10 sales will show a sub-category, which will be added to the filter.
  • Step 4: Drag the Category dimension to the Filters shelf. When you drag a Category to the Filters shelf, a new window will open, allowing you to select all of the categories or a specific category from the list of options.
  • Step 5: Furniture and Technology is the category you’ve chosen. Because furniture and technology products have only seven sub-categories, only seven records were displayed. The first sub-category filter is used, with values fetched from the TOP 10 sales, and the sub-category is displayed according to the furniture and technology category.
  • Step 6: Select Add to Context by clicking on the category name. The name of the category filter is changed to Context Filter. As you can see, the Context Filter is applied first, and then the TOP 10 value for each sub-category is displayed.

Tableau Context Filter: How to Remove Context Filter

Removing Tableau Context Filter is simple, but keep in mind that data will be displayed as it was before you removed the Context Filter. The TOP 10 sub-category will display the data.

  • Step 1: In the Filters shelf, select the Context Filter (you can see the grey color dimension is Context Filter).
  • Step 2: Select Remove from Context.

Tableau Context Filter: How to Speed up Context Filters

You can use the following guidelines to improve the performance of Context Filters and, as a result, Tableau’s efficiency:

  • Applying a single Context Filter that reduces the size of the data set significantly is a much better idea than using multiple filters. It is worse to add a filter to the Context if it does not reduce the size of the data set by one-tenth or more. It increases the cost of computing the Context Filter.
  • Before creating a Context Filter, it’s recommended that you complete all of your DATA MODELLINGS. Converting dimensions to measures, for example, necessitates recalculating the Context Filter.
  • Fill in the Context’s required filters. Before adding fields to other shelves, make sure the Context Filter is set. When you drop fields on different shelves, these prerequisites make the queries run much faster.
  • Using discrete dates and date bins like YEAR(date) or Context Filters instead of continuous dates is more effective. Context Filters may not provide the performance you want if your data set is heavily indexed, and they may even cause query performance to slow down.


This blog focuses on Tableau Context Filters and demonstrates how to create, remove and speed up Context Filters in Tableau. It also gives you an understanding of Tableau and its key features.

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Harshitha Balasankula
Former Marketing Content Analyst, Hevo Data

Harshita is a data analysis enthusiast with a keen interest for data, software architecture, and writing technical content. Her passion towards contributing to the field drives her in creating in-depth articles on diverse topics related to the data industry.

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