URL Actions: Use Tableau Like a True App

By: Eric Parker

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Eric lives in Seattle and has been teaching Tableau and Alteryx for 5 years. He's helped thousands of students solve their most pressing problems. If you have a question, feel free to reach out to him directly via email.

URL actions open up a new world of possibilities in Tableau dashboards. You can link to a URL field, look up a data point of interest, or even create an action that creates an email form. URL actions have been used to successfully linked sales opportunities to Salesforce, link furniture companies to their products on the web and generate emails to further discussion about data points of interest.

Let’s use this dashboard as a starting point:

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We’ll start by creating a URL action that lets you select one of the three squares at the top of the dashboard and go to the relevant website for that segment of the business. In this case, we’ll assume there is already a URL field in the dataset.

If we want the URL action to work in the dashboard and it’s based on a field in the dataset, that field needs to be used somewhere on the worksheet that’s going to drive the action.

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Notice in this case it’s simply been dropped on the Detail tab in the Marks Card.

Next we’ll return to the dashboard and create a new dashboard action and select Go to URL.

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From there we’ll give the action a title and route it to a specific URL. You can make both the title and URL dynamic by selecting the arrows on the right side of the screen.

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Note; it’s generally a good idea to make URL actions run on Menu. It is disconcerting for a user to get sent to an external webpage by either hovering over or merely making a selection in a worksheet.

Notice the link that shows up in the tooltip now after creating that action:

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Imagine now that you’d like to create a URL action that lets you search Amazon.com to see if they sell any of your top-selling items. Here’s what that can look like:

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The Amazon base URL string is the same every time you search on Amazon. The main difference are the “keywords” used. You can just run a test on Amazon.com, copy the URL, paste that URL in Tableau, remove the old keywords, and dynamically insert the item name instead.

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One last variation of the URL action is the email template. Let’s say you’d like an option to email the product development team to ask a question about one of the above items. Here’s how you can set that up.

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The magic here is following the HTML formatting for linking to the URL. You can customize the recipient, email title and subject.

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Want to learn more Tableau dashboarding tips? Check out our newest workshop; Tableau Dashboarding: From Mystery to Mastery.