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Creating Tableau Polygons from ArcGIS Shapefiles

Product(s): Tableau Desktop
Version(s): All
Last Modified Date: 25 Jan 2016

You can use the filled maps chart option to fill worldwide states and provinces and U.S. counties with built-in geocoding.

For maps that require more detailed areas, such as cities, zip codes, area codes, or custom areas, use the ArcGIS ShapeFiles to prepare and define a file that can be imported into Tableau Desktop as a polygon layer.

For more general information about polygon filled areas, see the Creating Polygon-Shaded Maps article.

Note: The ArcGIS method requires a licensed version of ArcGIS (ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo) and the ET GeoWizards tool for ArcGIS. The software installs as a toolbar in ArcMap and the functionality required for preparing the Shapefile is covered under their free features.

Step 1: Prepare the shapefile

  1. In an ArcMap view that contains the polygon shapefile layer of interest, verify that the polygon is in a geographic coordinate system using decimal latitude and longitude units, such as GCS NAD 1983. If it is in a projected coordinate system, use ArcToolbox to project the shapefile to a geographic coordinate system.

  2. Launch the ET GeoWizards tool in ArcMap and follow the step-by-step wizard to output a Polygon to Point feature. Be sure that the output points are the Vertices only.

Step 2: Prepare the Tableau data source

[ID] or [ET_ID] Either of these two fields can be used for the Level of Detail shelf.
[ET_X] This field corresponds to the longitude coordinate of the record.
[EY_Y] This field corresponds to the latitude coordinate of the record.
[ET_ORDER] This field contains the draw order of the points and is used in the Path shelf for the polygon.

You can change the header names here to be more informative to the Tableau user.

When ready, save the updated file to a data source supported in Tableau, such as an Excel or Access format.

  1. Open the .DBF of the output shapefile into a program such as Excel. At a minimum, the file must contain the following fields for correct import into Tableau:
  2. Refer to the remaining steps in the Creating Polygon-Shaded Maps article to complete the view you want in Tableau.


Alternate Search Terms:filled map, arcgis, shape file,
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