Create Sets for Top N and Others

If you collect large sets of data that you want to visualize, you might find that limiting the amount of information displayed to an important subset of records helps you work with and answer questions about the data more effectively.

This article describes how to create an interactive view that separates your customers into two dynamic groups:

  • The top N customers
  • All other customers

The view includes a control that your users can adjust to change the number of customers included in the top customers group. When they change the number, the view updates accordingly.

Sets and supported data sources

The method described in this article for creating a view of the top customers uses the In/Out functionality of sets.

Sets were introduced with Tableau Desktop version 8.0.

For live connections, the In/Out functionality requires a relational or multidimensional data source.

If you use a file-based data source, such as a Microsoft Excel workbook or text file, you can take an extract with which you can create sets.

Step 1: Create the parameter

  1. In Tableau Desktop, open a new workbook and connect to the Sample-Superstore data source.

  2. Open a new worksheet.

  3. In the Data pane, click the drop-down to the right of Dimensions and select Create Parameter.

  4. In the Create Parameter dialog box, do the following:

    • In the Name text box, type Top Customers 2.

    • For Data type, select Integer.

    • For Current value, type 5.

    • For Allowable values, click Range.

    • Under Range of values, do the following:

      • Click Minimum and type 5.

      • Click Maximum and type 20.

      • Click Step size and type 5.

This parameter will be used, in combination with the top N set you will create in the next step, to quickly adjust the top N value in the view.

Step 2: Create the top N customers set

  1. In the Data pane, under Dimensions, right-click Customer Name, and select Create > Set.

  2. In the Create Set dialog box that opens, do the following:

    • In the Name text box, type Top N Customers by Sales.

    • Click the Top tab.

    • Select By Field.

    • From the field drop-down list (Category), select Sales.

    • From the aggregation drop-down list, select Sum.

    • When finished, click OK.

Step 3: Set up the view

  1. From Sets, drag Top N Customers by Sales to the Rows shelf.

  2. From Dimensions, drag Customer Name to the Rows shelf, positioning it to the right of the set.

  3. From Measures, drag Sales to the Columns shelf.

  4. On the toolbar, click the Sort Descending button to make sure that the set is working.

  5. In the Data pane, under Sets, right-click Top N Customers by Sales, and then click Create Calculated Field.

  6. In the Calculated Field dialog box that opens, complete the following steps:

    • In the Name text box, type Subset Labels.

    • In the Formula text box, type the following formula to create dynamic labels for the customers in the set:

      IF [Top N Customers by Sales]
      THEN "Top " + str([Top Customers 2]) + " Customers"
      ELSE "Others"
      END

    • When finished, click OK.

  7. From Dimensions, drag Subset Labels to the Rows shelf, placing it between the Top N set and the Customer Name dimension.

  8. On the Rows shelf, right-click the IN/OUT(Top N Customers by Sales) set, and then clear Show Header.

  9. This hides the In/Out labels while retaining the sort order so that your top N subset always appears at the top of the view.

  10. From Sets, drag Top N Customers by Sales to Color on the Marks card.

Step 4: Combine the Top N set with a dynamic parameter

  1. In the Data pane, right-click Top N Customers by Sales, and then select Edit Set.
  2. In the Edit Set dialog box, do the following:

    • Select the Top tab.

    • Click the value drop-down menu, and select the Top Customers 2 parameter.

    • Click OK.

  3. This links the Top N Customers by Sales set to the Top Customers 2 dynamic parameter, instead of to a static list of 10.

    This parameter will be used in combination with the Top N Customers by Sales set, to adjust the top N value in the view.

  4. In the Data pane, under Parameters, right-click the Top Customers 2 parameter, and select Show Parameter Control.

    You can control the top N value by using the Top Customers 2 parameter control that appears in the view.

Additional tips for improving the view's functionality

Here are some additional steps you can take to give your viewers more flexibility in displaying the customer subsets.

  1. From the Data pane drop-down menu, select Create Parameter.

  2. In the Create Parameter dialog box that opens, do the following:

    • For Name, type Expand or Collapse.

    • For Data type, select String.

    • For Allowable values, select List.

    • In the List of values, type the values Expand and Collapse.

    • When finished, click OK.

  3. Select Analysis > Create Calculated Field.

  4. In the Create Calculated Field dialog box that opens, do the following to create a calculation that uses the parameter you just created. This calculation enables viewers to specify how to view customers in the Others subset:

    • For Name, enter Customer Names Calc.

    • In the formula box, type the following formula, and then click OK:

      IF [Expand or Collapse]="Collapse" THEN
      IF [Top N Customers by Sales]
      THEN [Customer Name]
      ELSE "Others" END
      ELSE [Customer Name] END

  5. In the Data pane, under Parameters, right-click the Expand or Collapseparameter, and select Show Parameter Control.

  6. From the Columns shelf, drag the SUM(Sales) measure to Label on the Marks card.

  7. From Dimensions, drag Customer Names Calc directly on top of the Customer Namefield on the Rows shelf, so that it replaces it.

  8. Now you can use the Expand or Collapse parameter control to see the list of names in the top N customers and the remaining customers rolled up into a single Others entry.

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