Work with Data Fields in the Data Pane

Tableau displays data source connections and data fields for the workbook in the Data pane on the left side of the workspace.

Note: For details on how to start creating visualisations, see Get Started. For details on the many ways you can customise the fields in the Data pane, see Organise and Customise Fields in the Data Pane and Edit Default Settings for Fields.

Areas of the Data pane

After you connect to your data and set up the data source with Tableau, the data source connections and fields appear on the left side of the workbook in the Data pane. For details on connecting to data, see Connect to and Prepare Data.

Current data source connections appear at the top of the Data pane. When you have more than one connection available, click a connection to select it and start working with that data.

You build visualisations by adding fields from the Data pane to the view. For details, see Start Building a Visualisation by Dragging Fields to the View.

Fields can be organised by table (Group by Data Source Table) or folder (Group by Folder). Dimensions are displayed above the grey line, and measures below the grey line for each table or folder. In some cases, a table or folder might contain only dimensions, or only measures to start with.

  • Calculated fields are listed with their originating field, if all of their input fields come from the same table.
  • Sets are listed with the table with their originating field.
  • Parameters are global to the workbook and are displayed in the Parameters area.
  • Fields that don't belong to a specific table are displayed in the general area below the tables. These include: aggregated calculations, calculations that use fields from multiple tables, Measure Names and Measure Values.

Below the data source connections in the Data pane are the fields that are available in the currently selected data source. You can toggle between the Data and Analytics panes in a worksheet. For details on the Analytics pane, see Apply Advanced Analysis to a View (Analytics Pane).

Fields from a single-table data source in the Data pane

The Data pane includes:

  • Dimension fields – Fields that contain qualitative values (such as names, dates or geographical data). You can use dimensions to categorise, segment, and reveal the details in your data. Dimensions affect the level of detail in the view. Examples of dimensions include dates, customer names and customer segments.

  • Measure fields – Fields that contain numeric, quantitative values can be measured. You can apply calculations to them and aggregate them. When you drag a measure into the view, Tableau applies an aggregation to that measure (by default). Examples of measures: sales, profit, number of employees, temperature, frequency.

    For more information on what dimensions and measures are, see Dimensions and Measures, Blue and Green.

  • Calculated fields – If your underlying data doesn't include all of the fields you need to answer your questions, you can create new fields in Tableau using calculations and then save them as part of your data source. These fields are called calculated fields.

    For more information on calculated fields, see Create Custom Fields with Calculations.

  • Sets – Subsets of data that you define. Sets are custom fields based on existing dimensions and criteria that you specify. For more information, see Create Sets.

    Named sets from an MS Analysis Services server or from a Teradata OLAP connector also appear in Tableau in this area of the Data pane. You can interact with these named sets in the same way you interact with other custom sets in Tableau.

  • Parameters – Values that can be used as placeholders in formulas, or replace constant values in calculated fields and filters. For more information, see Create Parameters(Link opens in a new window).

Note: For cube data sources, fields are explicitly defined as dimensions or measures when the database is created. For relational data sources, Tableau automatically organises the fields. By default, fields containing text, date or boolean values are dimensions, while fields containing numerical values are measures.

By default the field names defined in the data source are displayed in the Data pane. You can rename fields and member names, create hierarchies and organise the fields into groups and folders. For details, see Edit Default Settings for Fields, Organise and Customise Fields in the Data Pane and Create Hierarchies

Columns become measure and dimension fields in the view

Data sources contain fields. For relational data sources that you connect to, the fields are determined by the columns of a table or view. Each field contains a unique attribute of the data such as customer name, sales total, product type, and so on.

For cube (multidimensional) data sources, the fields are determined by the dimensions and measures of a cube. In Tableau, cube data sources are supported only in Windows.

Here's an example of fields from an Excel worksheet.

When you start building a visualisation in a worksheet, these columns are available as fields in the Data pane. For details, see Areas of the Data pane.

Each field has a data type (that you can change if needed), and a role: discrete dimension, continuous dimension, discrete measure or continuous measure. For details, see Data Types and Dimensions and Measures, Blue and Green.

Each field also includes some default settings, such as a default aggregation of SUM or AVG, depending on the structure of the current view. For details, see see Edit Default Settings for Fields and Data Aggregation in Tableau.

Fields that Tableau automatically creates

The Data pane can also contain a number of fields that do not come from your original data: Measure Names and Measure Values, Number of Records, Latitude and Longitude.

Measure Names and Measure Values

  • The Measure Values field contains all the measures in your data, collected into a single field with continuous values. Drag individual measure fields out of the Measure Values card to remove them from the view.

  • The Measure Names field contains the names of all measures in your data, collected into a single field with discrete values.

For more details about how to use Measure Values and Measure Names in visualisations, see Measure Values and Measure Names.

Count of Table

Starting with Tableau 2020.2, every table in a data source has a Count field, in the form of NameofTable(Count). The table count field is an automatically generated, calculated field.

COUNT of table = SUM of the number of records per table

To see the count for a table, drag its Count field into the view. To see the count for all tables, select the Count field for each table in the Data pane, and then click the Text Table in Show Me.

You can't build calculations on top of a table's Count field, and it is aggregate-only.

Number of Records (before version 2020.2)

You might see a Number of Records field if it is being used in a visualisation from a previous version of Tableau.

In versions of Tableau before 2020.2, the Number of Records field is an automatically generated, calculated field that is set to the number 1. That number gets associated with each row in the data source. If you add the Number of Records field to the view, you will see the summed count of all the rows in a data source (the number of records). You can use the Number of Records field to get quick counts of various dimensions' values. Viewing the Number of Records can help you to see if you data joins are working the way you expect them to.

Latitude and Longitude (generated)

When Tableau interprets fields to be geographic fields that can be used with maps, it automatically geocodes the data and includes Latitude (generated) and Longitude (generated) fields. You can use these fields to overlay your data on live maps. For more information on how to use these fields, and best practices for building maps in Tableau, see Maps and Geographic Data Analysis in Tableau Assign Geographic Roles, Location Data that Tableau Supports for Building Map Views,

Perform common tasks in the Data pane

To select a data source connection for analysis, click the data source connection name in the Data pane. For more details, see Navigating Data Sources in the Data Pane.

To view a context menu for the data source, click Data in the top menu and then click on the data source in the menu list. For more information, see Edit Data Sources.

To search for fields in the Data pane, click the magnifying class icon and then type in the text box. For more details, see Find fields.

To see the underlying data, click the View Data icon at the top of the Data pane.

For more information , see View Underlying Data

In cases where Tableau has misclassified a field as a dimension or a measure, possibly because of the data type, you can convert it and change its role.

To convert a measure to a dimension, drag the measure and drop it into the Dimensions area in the Data pane. For more details, see Convert a Measure to a Dimension.

Change data fields to fit your needs

When you drag a field into the view, it will have certain default settings and characteristics. You can customise a field that is already in the view, just for that instance of the field. Or you can change its settings in the Data pane to make the field use those settings going forward.

You can control the definition of a field in the view, depending on how you want to work with that field data.

Note: To change the default settings for a field before you drag it into the view, right-click it (Control-click on a Mac). You can then edit its settings and default properties from its context menu.

For details on the many ways you can customise the fields in the Data pane, see Organise and Customise Fields in the Data Pane and Edit Default Settings for Fields.

Relational versus cube data

The Data pane for a relational and cube data source are shown below. Note that the panes look essentially the same for both data sources in that the fields are organised into dimensions and measures. However, the cube data source contains hierarchies for dimensions. For example, notice that the Employee dimension in the cube Data pane contains hierarchical members such as Manager Name and Employee Dept.

Relational data sources don’t have built-in hierarchies. However, relational data sources often have related dimensions that have an inherent hierarchy. For example, a data source may have fields for Country, County and City. These fields could be grouped into a hierarchy called Location. You can assemble relational hierarchies by dragging and dropping in the Data pane. For details, see Create Hierarchies(Link opens in a new window).

Note: In Tableau, cube (multidimensional) data sources are supported only in Windows.

Data pane with relational data (left image) versus cube data (right image)

You can expand or collapse hierarchies in both relational and cube Data panes by clicking the arrow. You can hide the Data pane all together by clicking the minimise button in the upper-right corner of the Data pane.

For information on cube data sources, see Cube Data Sources.

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