Types of Tableau Filters Simplified: The Complete Guide 101

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Tableau is a software tool that is used for data visualization and helps with data analysis and business intelligence. Its technology allows you to perform complex computations, data blending, and dashboarding to create visualizations that deliver insights that can’t be obtained from a spreadsheet. Tableau has tools for organizing and simplifying data like Tableau filters. Tableau filters help in minimizing the size of the data for efficiency purposes, cleaning up underlying data, removing irrelevant dimension members, and setting measure or date ranges for what you want to analyze.

This blog tells you about the different types of Tableau filters in detail. It gives a detailed explanation of each of the six Tableau filters and how they can be used to organize and simplify data. 

Table of Contents

What is Tableau?

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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. It uses Tableau Filters to make the data more readable and organized. 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 use 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 are Tableau Filters? 

Tableau lets you filter individual views or entire data sources based on dimensions, measures, or sets. In databases, filtering is a useful way to see only the data you want to see. When the data is visualized in a readable, actionable format, Tableau filters are required to highlight any underlying insights that can be derived from it.

Tableau filters are based on a condition that can be used to limit the number of records in the database. Tableau filters support both simple cases based on field values and advanced calculations or context-based filters. The Tableau filter you choose, or a combination of Tableau filters, is largely determined by what you want to limit your data set to.

Types of Tableau Filters

Tableau filters can be used to organize and visualize data based on predefined criteria in several ways. Tableau has a total of six different types of filters:

Extract Filter

The Tableau filter that extracts a small subset of data from the original data source is the extract filter. If the user extracts data from the data source, this Tableau filter is used.

After connecting the text file to Tableau, you’ll see two options in the top right corner of the data source tab: Live and Extract. A direct connection to a data source is referred to as a live connection. And the extract connection takes the data from the data source and saves it to the Tableau repository as a local copy.

The following is a step-by-step procedure for creating a Tableau extract filter: 

  • Step 1: Connect the text file to Tableau.
  • Step 2:Click on the Extract button as shown below:

This creates a local copy in the Tableau repository.

  • Step 3: Select Edit from the drop-down menu near the Extract button in the top right corner. The Extract Data window is opened. Select the Add option in the Window.
  • Step 4: Select a Tableau filter condition from the Add Filter window. Any of the fields can be added as an Extract filter. Choose the category from the list and click OK.

After clicking on OK, a filtered window will appear which shows data that was extracted using the Extract Tableau filter.

You can also customize the list or use all values in the list.

There are different options other than the general category from which you can extract data using Extract filter:

  • The Wildcard option is used to filter fields using a Wildcard match. Users can type the character and the field will be filtered according to the match. The different types of matches are: 
ContainsSelect the members if the member name contains typed characters.
Starts withSelect the members if the member name starts with typed characters.
Ends withSelect the members if the member name ends with typed characters.
Exactly matchesSelect the members if the member name exactly matches with typed characters.

You can customize your data using these matches and you will get the filtered data.

  • The Tableau filter on condition option is used to filter the data set by giving several conditions.
    • You can filter data using multiple Byfield conditions following the steps below:
      • Step 1: In the Filter, the window selects the Condition tab.
      • Step 2: Click on the Byfield button.
      • Step 3: Select the name of the field to be filtered.
      • Step 4: Choose the aggregation type like Sum, average, and median from the drop-down list. 
      • Step 5: Select the operator from the drop-down list.
      • Step 6: Filter the selected field by entering the value.
      • Step 7: Click Ok.

By using Byfield, you can also filter values in a particular range. This shows the minimum and maximum value of the selected field by clicking on the Load button. It can be used to refer to the values.

  • You can also filter by condition using a formula. Follow the steps below to filter using conditions:
    • Step 1: Click on the By formula.
    • Step 2: Enter the formula in the box.
    • Step 3: Click on the Ok button.
  • You can also filter data using Top or Bottom filters, which are used to select the top or bottom n number of records. You can select filters Byfield or by the formula in this option too by following the steps from the previous option or referring to the steps from here.

Data Source Filter

The Tableau Filter that applies the filter directly to the data source, allowing for quick uploads of data is the Data Source Filter. It can limit the number of records in the data set. Both live and extracted connections are supported by the Data Source Filter.

The process to select data filter is done by following the steps given:

  • Step 1: On the data source tab, click the Add button in the top right corner.
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  • Step 2: The Edit Data Source Filters window appears. In the window, select the Add option.
  • Step 3: Follow the remaining steps from the topic Extract Filters -> Step 3 after clicking the Add button.

Context Filter 

A Context Filter is a standalone Tableau filter that can create a new dataset from the original data set and compute the worksheet selections. Context Filters are used to boost the performance of data source views, filters, and queries. You could run a context filter before any other Tableau Filters, and then apply the remaining filters on top of the data returned after context filtering.

To make a Context Filter, go to the context menu of an existing categorical filter and select Add to Context. Once the view is created, the context is calculated. The context is then used to calculate all other filters. Consider using a data source like Sample-superstore to find the top 10 subcategories of products in the Furniture category. The following are the steps to take to create a context filter:

  • Step 1: Drag the Sales field to the Columns shelf and the Sub-Category field to the Rows shelf.
  • Step 2: From the Show Me tab, select the horizontal bar chart.
  • Step 3: Drag the Sub-Category to the Filters shelf once more. The chart below is what you’ll get.
  • Step 4: In the filter shelf, right-click on the Sub-Category field and select Edit Filter, then select the Top tab in the pop-up window.
  • Step 5: Select the set fields set from the drop-down menu. Select Top 10 by Sales Sum from the next drop-down menu, as shown below:
  • Step 6: Select the Category field and drag it to the filter shelf. To edit the Category field, right-click on it and select Furniture from the drop-down menu. As a result, three product subcategories are displayed below.
  • Step 7: Right-click on the Category: Furniture filter and select Add to Context to add the context filter.
  • Step 8: All of the preceding steps combine to produce a final result that displays a subcategory of products from the Furniture category.

Context filter is created because:

  • Improve Performance: Queries will take a long time to run if you want to use a lot of filters or if your data source is large. In this case, you can improve performance by using one or more context filters.
  • Create a Dependent Numerical or Top N Filter: You can arrange a numerical or top N filter after setting a context filter to include only the data of interest.

Dimension Filter

In Tableau, dimensions are independent fields, typically any field that contains categorical or qualitative data. Dimension Filters are those Tableau Filters that are applied to dimensional data. It’s a non-aggregated filter that allows you to add a dimension, group, sets, and bins. The top or bottom conditions, wildcard match, and formula can all be used to apply a Dimension Filter. This Tableau filter can be used to include or exclude members from a dimension from the list. The following is the procedure for adding a dimension as a filter:

  • Step 1: Choose a dimension from the drop-down menu.
  • Step 2:The Tableau Filter Window appears. Choose a member from the drop-down menu.
  • Step 3: Click on the Ok button.

The procedure above filters the data set to only show records for the category Furniture.

Measure Filter

The Tableau Filter that can be used to filter data based on the values in a measure is called the Measure Filter. Fields containing quantitative data are commonly referred to as measures. The data can be modified using the aggregated measure values in a Measure Filter. A Measure Filter can be applied by following the procedure:

  • Step 1: You can gain access to Worksheet
    • Choose a measure from the Measures tab. Drag the value into the Tableau Filter field.
    • The Measures tab allows you to select a metric. In the Tableau Filter field, drag the value.
    • Select Next.
  • It brings up a window where you must choose a value range. The following are the other types of options available in the window.
Range of valuesThe minimum and maximum range of measure values can be given and filtered.
At leastA minimum value of a measure is given to filter the data.
At mostA maximum value of a measure is given to filter the data.
SpecialAn option to select null or non-null values and filter the data.
  • Step 1: Choose a range of values. The upper and lower limits for the range of values can be changed.
  • Step 2: Click on the Ok button.

User Filter

The Tableau filter that protects the row-level data in a dataset is the User Filter. When the workbook is published on a server, it can be used. For different users, different filtering conditions can be used. It’s the process of limiting what data a user can see depending on who’s looking at the dashboard.

To apply the User Filter follow the steps:

  • Step 1: In the Menu bar, select Server from the drop-down menu. Select the Create User Filter option by moving the cursor over it. To create a user filter, select the field.
  • Step 2: The Tableau Server Sign-in window appears. In the window, choose the Tableau Online option.
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  • Step 3: A Tableau Online Sign-in Window appears. Fill in your email address and password. Select the Sign In option.
  • Step 4: It brings up a window labeled ‘User Filter.’ Add a User Filter by following the steps below.
    • Give your user filter a name.
    • Choose a user from the list of users.
    • Check in the members who are required to appear for the selected member.
  • Choose Ok.

It establishes a Tableau user filter. As shown below, you can find the user filter in the sets pane.

The user sees only the filtered data when the workbook is published on the server. To secure data, multiple users can have their User Filters.

Conclusion

This blog talks about six Tableau Filters in detail and how to apply these filters to data to make it more organized and simplify it for the user. It also gives a brief overview of Tableau.

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Tell us about your experience of using the Filters in Tableau! Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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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