Tableau Charts : Line Charts ( Discrete Vs Continuous )

Hi All,
In the previous blog of the series Tableau Charts we discussed about Treemaps . Today we will be discussing about one of the most basic charts that we have known from the beginning : Line Charts.
Line charts are the most effective way to see the trend over time. Tableau provides us with the option to create both Discrete and Continuous line charts.
Lets try to understand the difference between these two types of line chart that tableau plots.
As mentioned earlier to create a line chart in Tableau we need a date dimension. Whether we are creating a Discrete or a continuous line , depends solely upon how our dates are. If our dates are discrete than we will have discrete line chart , on the other hand if our date is continuous we will have continuous line chart.

Lets go ahead and create these two to understand them better :

Discrete Line Charts :
To create a discrete line chart , drag Order date to the Columns Pill . The default aggregation for the date is Year.
Right click on the Date Field in the row and Select the Month option that appears in the dropdown first.
Bring Sales to columns .
Add Category to the color . Your screen should look somewhat like this now:

What we now have is a discrete line chart . Notice the blue color for the Date pill in the rows. A blue pill represents a discrete value. Here we see that the sales are aggregated by month and are then plotted . So the Sales value for Jan would be the sum of Sales in January for all the year in our dataset.

Continuous Line Chart :
To create a continuous line chart we right click on the Date dimension on our column pill again and this time we select the Month that appears second in the dropdown. This is how your screen should be looking now:
In this we notice that the months are not aggregated , rather continuous and Start from Nov 2013 and go all the way to Nov 2017. Also in the column, the Month pill is now green colored which depicts that it is a continuous variable now.

Working with dates is a bit tricky and we should always be cautious in seeing if we are using them as discrete or continuous.

Hope you guys liked the post and found it interesting. Do mention your feedback and query (if any) in the comment section.

Rahul Singh

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