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 visualizations, see Get Started. For details on the many ways you can customize the fields in the Data pane, see Organize and Customize 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 visualizations by adding fields from the Data pane to the view. For details, see Start Building a Visualization by Dragging Fields to the View.

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).

The Data pane includes these areas:

  • Dimensions – Fields that contain qualitative values (such as names, dates, or geographical data). You can use dimensions to categorize, 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.

  • Measures – 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.

  • 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.

Note: For cube data sources, fields are explicitly defined as dimensions or measures when the database is created. For relational data sources, Tableau automatically organizes 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 organize the fields into groups and folders. For details, see Edit Default Settings for Fields, Organize and Customize 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 visualization 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 always appears at the bottom of the Measures area in the Data pane and 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 always appears at the bottom of the Dimensions area in the Data pane and 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 visualizations, see Measure Values and Measure Names. To see measure names and measure values in action, watch the 5-minute Measure Names and Measure Values training video. Use your tableau.com account to sign in. To view more training and introductory videos, go to Free Training Videos on the Tableau website.

Number of Records

The Number of Records field is an automatically generated, calculated field that is simply 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 TableauAssign 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 customize 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 customize the fields in the Data pane, see Organize and Customize 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 organized 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, State, 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.

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 minimize button in the upper-right corner of the Data pane.

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

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