Using #Tableau to Reproduce an Interesting Dot Plot Graphic

Introduction

Last night I read an interesting article titled: “Illustrating the Arc of European Colonialism Using a Dot Plot”. Click here to read it because is a great piece of work and well-worth reading.

The graphic Ken (aka the geovisualist) produced for the data he assembled was interesting to me, so I decided to reproduce it in Tableau. It took a couple of hours to do because there was more work needed than I expected. It caused me to think about data reshaping, setting custom colors, creating a dot plot, using dual axes, order of operations, etc. It was fun to do and was a nice diversion from the typical number crunching I’ve been doing lately.

The Results

Figure 1 shows Ken’s original graphic that was produced in R.

Dot Plot Original

Figure 1 – The original graphic produced by Ken, the geovisualist using R.


Figure 2 is the Tableau version of the same data, created by me. This graphic is reverse-sorted by Independence date, just like Ken produced.

Dot Plot Tableau Independence

Figure 2 – The Tableau version of the data produced by 3danim8.


Figure 3 is the same data but sorted by when the countries were colonized. I thought that would make for an interesting viz.

Dot Plot Tableau Colonization

Figure 3 – Data sorted by when the countries were colonized. The oldest countries are at the top of the pane.

Final Thoughts

I really liked what Ken did with his graphic. I like the space he created between each of the three major regions, but I wasn’t able to include that in my rendition without additional work. I could have continued to work on this example, but I satisfied myself that I could produce a decent copy of his graphic using Tableau. Here is a link to my Tableau public workbook in case anyone else wants to play with this. Here is a link to download the Excel data I used if you want to produce this chart yourself.

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