Transparent Image Masks

Over the years, clients have requested interesting aesthetic designs for their visualizations.  Often, it includes a graphic element that may push the limits of the intended use for Tableau.  Some examples might include a realistic looking thermometer for a goal viz or other photo-realistic gauge.  These may not be best practices for analysis, but they can be fun and informative for other applications.  We’d worked on a few options, but never found a technique we could appreciate until now.

 This Father’s Day we were contemplating something fun to share.  In the process, we stumbled upon the transparency features that were implemented in Tableau 8.1.  These features allowed legends, text boxes and images to have a transparent background color.  Using this technique of overlaying a floating image on top of a viz, we’re able to create “Transparent Image Masks”.  Our POC can be seen in our Father’s Day Viz.

We’re excited about the possibilities using this technique.  Combining a background image on a viz with the actual viz marks and a floating transparent image mask could potentially produce some very interesting aesthetic qualities. That thermometer, perhaps even with a little light reflection for depth, is high on our list.  We may even push the boundaries of good taste and try our hand at an old-timey machine gauge wall or some science fiction dashboard.  We’re most excited to see how the community may leverage this technique.


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