How To Install and Use Seven Fantastic #Tableau Background Maps


Let’s get this out of the way. I’m not responsible for any of this fantastic content. It all came to me from a seriously talented guy named Allan Walker, aka “The Tableau Mapper”. So if you decide to use this information, thank Allan when you see him.

Allan is so cool that I sometimes get him confused with Walker, Texas Ranger, played by Chuck Norris. Figures 1 and 2 show you what I mean.

Figure 1 - Allan Walker, Tableau Mapper

Figure 1 – Allan Walker, Tableau Mapper

Figure 2 - Walker, Texas Ranger

Figure 2 – Walker, Texas Ranger

The Seven Tableau Background Maps

This post is going to be very short. Just click here to download an Excel file and follow the instructions contained within. In a few minutes you will have seven new Tableau maps (Figure 3) to use to impress your co-workers.

figure 3 - The seven Tableau maps contained in this blog post.

Figure 3 – The seven Tableau maps contained in this blog post (click for high-resolution image).

We all thank you, Allan, for openly sharing your knowledge.

More Maps In Tableau

To learn more about additional maps in Tableau, read this article by Anya The techniques are more involved than the simple stuff included in this article, but it looks like a lot of fun. Also, check the comments on that article for more information about Allan’s recent work.

Updates to This Article

Click here to see the updates made to this approach since initial publication.


See the comments below for more discussion on cool dudes. Speaking of swagger, my wife just sent me this shot of my little dude Jett Black who is currently back at home in Tennessee. He is showing some swagger…

Figure 4 - Either you have it or you don't. Jett has the swagger.

Figure 4 – Either you have it or you don’t. Jett has the swagger and he is one very cool little dude.

10 thoughts on “How To Install and Use Seven Fantastic #Tableau Background Maps

    • Allan’s other picture (the one he used to use) also reminded of Chuck. Although Chuck is a people smasher, Allan is a Tableau smasher. There are a lot of similarities. You either are cool or not, and both of these guys have got the swagger.

  1. This is a great post! Thanks for this.

    I’m not sure whether or not the added step of checking the Map Layers box is intentional, but if it’s not then I figured I should share how I enabled the Map Layer by Default.

    I noticed that the for each map was responsible for setting the default launch attributes. Including the Map Layers check box.

    I compared the XML in the Excel workbook to that of the Tableau.tms that is installed by the Tableau Desktop installer.

    I noticed that in the XML you’ve provided, the Style Rule Element formatting is the cause.

    While the attribute is set to enabled, the Value for the each map name id is set the Map Name. While the attribute is set properly to Enabled, the Value being called should be set to true or false. I went back into the XML and made this change in each one of the .tms files, and presto. The map layer is now visible by default each time it’s loaded.

    • Hi Omar,

      Thanks for this great contribution. I’ll go into the excel file I provide and make this change so that these maps work by default and I’ll update the post to reflect your contribution. I think your comment is one of the best contributions I’ve ever had on my blog. Thank you so much!


      • My pleasure! 🙂

        For simplicity’s sake, the value you need to change is in line 17 of each XML worksheet.

  2. One more fix for an error I just found.

    In the 2_World_LTGrey XML the Style-Rule Element ID is incorrectly set to “World Topo” should be “world Light Grey Base” I assume this was just a copy/paste error. However, the ID being incorrectly set causes the map to not display by default. Despite changing the attribute value to “true”.

    Once it’s changed to the proper ID it displays by default as it should.

    • Yes, I think it was a cut and paste error. I’m sending your feedback to Allan so that he is aware of these issues. Thanks for using your time to collaborate with us.

      This example of your great feedback is one reason why I take the time to write a blog. A little time can be spread into the future to help a whole bunch of people.


  3. Pingback: Adding Custom Geocoding For Airport IATA Codes in #Tableau | 3danim8's Blog

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