Tableau Hacks: Gifs to Workbooks

August 30, 2013

As many of you know, I’m a huge Redditor and I help moderate the /r/Tableau subreddit. We get all kinds of awesome tutorials and vizzes posted on there all the time, but as a total internet nerd, a recent post really struck my fancy. Someone linked to this:


Someone had created a way to bring animated gifs into Tableau! I was beside myself. “Who is this magical person? I NEED TO KNOW.” Turns out it was none other than Tableau prodigy and summer intern Quinn Schiller! When I found out, I was basically like:

Quinn was kind enough to sit down with me and chat about the process of making the Rick Astley viz and provide me with everything I needed to make it myself. The first step is a shell script that converts gif files into CSV files that are readable in Tableau. The file will basically pixelate each frame of the gif and give it coordinates. The fields you end up getting look something like this:data


Where x and y are the coordinates, frame is obviously the frame, and r,g, b are the different values for each color. The original intent was to RGB the way pixels work, by putting the measure values of r,g,b on size and coloring them accordingly. Then, you put frame on the pages shelf and let it play. That’s how Quinn originally got this pretty psychedelic version:

A zoomed in look shows the idea behind it:

What he later did was add up the values for r,g, and b to get a number for black and white and put that on the color scale.

Of course, I had to try this myself, particularly since I keep a folder that has nearly 100 gifs in it.

Just a tiny snippet of my gif folder


So I did some work myself. How’d it go?


I had some interesting findings while generating these. For once, I realized that cubehelix color palettes were actually pretty awesome for making these. I used palette number 5 from the ones that I generated with Jim Davenport and everything looks like a weird sepia Instagram filter. I also found that which shape and size works best drastically changes depending on what gif you are using. Also, should you decide to go on this crazy gif adventure, you are gonna see this a lot:

takes foreverrrrrrrrAnd you may feel like:

This is a workbook! AMAZING!!!


But you should hang in there, because it is totally cool and worth it!

Follow your dreams. The sloth wants you to!



Quinn Schiller
August 30, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

I love you. Make this a thing.

    August 30, 2013 @ 2:26 pm
September 27, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

This is awesome. Will be showing it off this week at the office. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

June 12, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

Just stumbled upon this and this is super cool!!!

Will this work once i upload the workbook to the server?
– Vik

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  • Charles Coleman
    June 16, 2016 @ 12:00 pm

    I looked up putting gifs into Tableau for one single reason: to Rickroll people. And here, you’ve already done it.

    This is fantastic!


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