Tech and T-Accounts

Waterfall graph in Excel and Tableau

Lots of people are fond of creating a waterfall graph, but haven't figured out how to do it.

Here's the method that I've found to be simple and effective.  The basics are to first create four series:

A Base series for setting the beginning and ending balances. (blue)
An 'UP' or positive influence to the balance - (green)
A 'DOWN' or negative influence. -- (red)
A series that sets the bottom of the element in the UP or down.  This series is formatted with the border and area set to 'None'.

That's it.  The tricky part is the calculation to determine the number to use in the bottom series.  For the first element, it is simply the beginning balance less the down amount.  Subsequent columns are the prior bottom plus the prior up amount less the current column down amount.

Because I really like Tableau for graphics, I also used it to create the waterfall chart.  Download the Tableau workbook to understand how that was done.

Download Sample Excel Workbook Download Sample Tableau Workbook
Sample Excel Waterfall Chart:  Sample Tableau Waterfall Chart:
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Two versions of Tableau on Right mouse

It seems that my Nov. 3, 2010 post on the Tableau forums is no longer part of the current displayed activity, so I've repeated it here for more lasting content.

Thought I'd share a registry hack that made my life easier after performing an install of a new Tableau release. When I have two versions on the desktop, then use Windows Explorer to view a directory, I can click on the right mouse to choose which program to open a Tableau file. Standard stuff, except when there are two or more versions of Tableau installed, since each has the same identity on the right mouse - 'Tableau'. To fix, I do a registry change. If you aren't comfortable with editing the registry, don't read any further. I won't take responsibility for messing up someone's registry.

Under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ShellNoRoam\MUICache you will find entries for Tableau. (I search for Tableau at this point). The Name column has the path name for the program, so it includes the version number. Hit edit and change the Data element to read something like 'Tableau 6', or whatever aligns with the version. Close regedit, check out the change to your right mouse selections. Voila!

Here's the regedit item for Vista:

HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-641386121-2680866733-628560399-1000\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\MuiCache

Hint: Control-F to bring up Find dialog box, enter Tableau, select just the Data, then press F3 to repeat until you get to your location, which may have a different hash code than mine after the HKEY_USERS. As before, look at the name column to figure out which exe is being used, then hit enter to change the Data.

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Analyzing 6 months of Linking Greensboro online Discussions

In response to the question on Linkedin-Linking Greensboro, "Since when did discussions become online classified ads?", I looked at the data to see what emerged using Tableau software (www.kbearle.com/tableau.aspx).  Clicking on an image will enable you to work with the analysis or download it so you can analyze it further. Be sure that your browser will accept popups to use the interactive features of the reports.

Active Participants Full Screen | Register for Free Trial | Demo | Survey
 

Serena Simmons, a Linking Greensboro member, posed the question, "Since when did discussions become online classified ads?".  There have been quite a few opinions stated in reply to her question.  I took a different approach, deciding to actually look at the data to see what emerged.  An assumed fact of the question is that discussions topics have over time transformed themselves from something into a preponderance of personal promotion.  The group recently adopted posting guidelines to align itself with its stated purpose, "Linking Greensboro NC is a networking group of professionals in the Greensboro Triad area that are interested in growing personally and professionally through networking on Linkedin."  Those guidelines include a provision to not post discussions dealing with "Advertising your website or services" or those that are "Announcing that you are looking for a job".   I reviewed the 285 discussion posts during this period and categorized them into 4 groups:

  1. Self Promotion
  2. Non-Profit Announcements / Events
  3. Group Organization
  4. All Other (Insights and Musings, Non-commercial News, Requests for Assistance, Seeking a Job/Employee)

I've published the results in a series of 4 visualizations using Tableau Public, a very powerful software product that in February, 2010 made it possible to create and share analysis using a free version of their software.  While you don't have to have their software to view the analysis, you can get a free version for you to create your own analysis of the data below. 

You will notice that I have categorized many discussions as "Self Promotion", and you may disagree with my assessment.  Some self promotion could be characterized as 'classified ads', while some inform others on an issue by way of exposing their own expertise in a subject.  This post could be considered in the latter.  My company's expertise is in introducing the power of visualizations to the underserved and overworked analyst that either has another unweildy BI tool or goes through major hoops using the hammer of choice, Excel.

If you are impressed with the product, give me credit for introducing you to it by registering at www.kbearle.com/tableau.aspx

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