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Web maps are tricky. Let's say you are using a dataset to compare sales across states and provinces in the US and Canada. In a web map, you can't see most of the east coast without zooming in. (If you can’t see Connecticut, does it exist?)

Tableau's default Web Mercator Map

Tableau’s default Web Mercator map

You also miss out on Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Alaska, and Hawaii unless you make inset maps, which can be finicky and clunky. Furthermore, the standard Web Mercator map projection (a method of putting the spherical earth onto a flat surface, like a computer screen) makes Alaska and northern Canada look ENORMOUS, so the focus of the map is incredibly skewed. (Thank you West Wing for your perfect illustration.)

The most commonly accepted alternative is to use a hex map instead of a geographic map. Hex maps are tiled maps, which use geometry instead of geography to depict the features, making it much more flexible to fit things on one screen and keep an even focus.

Hex map shows states at an even size

Hex map published by Sir Viz a Lot: https://www.sirvizalot.com/2015/11/hex-tile-maps-in-tableau.html

Hex maps are perfect when:

  • You need a map to clearly show all states/provinces/countries;
  • Exact geography doesn't matter "that much";
  • You only need one type of geography (e.g. state, country). You cannot zoom in on a hexagon like you could on Google Maps.

There are plenty of hex map templates out there, but most just have the 50 United States + Puerto Rico and Washington DC. For a client project, I needed not only US states, but US territories and Canadian provinces as well. I used Tessellation’s great blog post as a base for adding the hex map elements straight into my dataset. (Thank you, Tessellation!)

For my client’s case, I made a few swaps among the existing states, added the territories and Canadian provinces, and added an “Unknown” spot for any pesky non-conforming or Null states.

After building the framework for a US states, territories, and Canadian provinces by hand, I wanted to save others the trouble and share the resource widely!

Here’s how to create your US, Territories & Canada hex map:

To complete your hex map, you'll need a ‘state/province’ field from your original dataset. You’ll also need to create a calculated ‘row’ field, and ‘column’ field.

Step 1: Prepare your State & Province Names

If the State/Province names in your dataset are fully written out, you can skip this step. If they are abbreviated, create a "State/Province (Long)" calculated field. This will create long names for your abbreviated places, AND dump any Nulls or Unknowns into an “Unknown” spot.

CASE [Your Abbreviated State/Province Field]

WHEN 'AL' THEN 'Alabama'

WHEN 'AK' THEN 'Alaska'

WHEN 'AZ' THEN 'Arizona'

WHEN 'AR' THEN 'Arkansas'

WHEN 'AS' THEN 'American Samoa'

WHEN 'CA' THEN 'California'

WHEN 'CO' THEN 'Colorado' 

WHEN 'CT' THEN 'Connecticut' 

WHEN 'DE' THEN 'Delaware' 

WHEN 'DC' THEN 'District of Columbia' 

WHEN 'FL' THEN 'Florida' 

WHEN 'GA' THEN 'Georgia'

WHEN 'GU' THEN 'Guam'

WHEN 'HI' THEN 'Hawaii' 

WHEN 'ID' THEN 'Idaho' 

WHEN 'IL' THEN 'Illinois'

WHEN 'IN' THEN 'Indiana'

WHEN 'IA' THEN 'Iowa' 

WHEN 'KS' THEN 'Kansas' 

WHEN 'KY' THEN 'Kentucky' 

WHEN 'LA' THEN 'Louisiana'

WHEN 'ME' THEN 'Maine' 

WHEN 'MD' THEN 'Maryland' 

WHEN 'MA' THEN 'Massachusetts' 

WHEN 'MI' THEN 'Michigan' 

WHEN 'MN' THEN 'Minnesota'

WHEN 'MS' THEN 'Mississippi'

WHEN 'MO' THEN 'Missouri' 

WHEN 'MT' THEN 'Montana' 

WHEN 'NE' THEN 'Nebraska' 

WHEN 'NV' THEN 'Nevada' 

WHEN 'NH' THEN 'New Hampshire' 

WHEN 'NJ' THEN 'New Jersey' 

WHEN 'NM' THEN 'New Mexico' 

WHEN 'NY' THEN 'New York' 

WHEN 'NC' THEN 'North Carolina' 

WHEN 'ND' THEN 'North Dakota'

WHEN 'OH' THEN 'Ohio' 

WHEN 'OK' THEN 'Oklahoma' 

WHEN 'OR' THEN 'Oregon' 

WHEN 'PA' THEN 'Pennsylvania' 

WHEN 'PR' THEN 'Puerto Rico'

WHEN 'RI' THEN 'Rhode Island' 

WHEN 'SC' THEN 'South Carolina'

WHEN 'SD' THEN 'South Dakota' 

WHEN 'TN' THEN 'Tennessee' 

WHEN 'TX' THEN 'Texas' 

WHEN 'UT' THEN 'Utah'

WHEN 'VT' THEN 'Vermont' 

WHEN 'VA' THEN 'Virginia' 

WHEN 'WA' THEN 'Washington' 

WHEN 'WV' THEN 'West Virginia' 

WHEN 'WI' THEN 'Wisconsin'

WHEN 'WY' THEN 'Wyoming'

WHEN 'YT' THEN 'Yukon'

WHEN 'NT' THEN 'Northwest Territories'

WHEN 'NU' THEN 'Nanavut'

WHEN 'NL' THEN 'Newfoundland & Labrador'

WHEN 'BC' THEN 'British Columbia'

WHEN 'AB' THEN 'Alberta'

WHEN 'SK' THEN 'Saskatchewan'

WHEN 'MB' THEN 'Manitoba'

WHEN 'ON' THEN 'Ontario'

WHEN 'PEI' THEN 'Prince Edward Island'

WHEN 'QC' THEN 'Quebec'

WHEN 'NB' THEN 'New Brunswick'

WHEN 'NS' THEN 'Nova Scotia'

ELSE 'Unknown'

END

Step 2: Create a "Row" calculated field with the following calculation:

CASE [Your Long State/Province Field]

WHEN 'Alabama' THEN -6

WHEN 'Alaska' THEN -0

WHEN 'American Samoa' THEN -8

WHEN 'Arizona' THEN -5

WHEN 'Arkansas' THEN -5

WHEN 'California' THEN -5

WHEN 'Colorado' THEN -5

WHEN 'Connecticut' THEN -3

WHEN 'Delaware' THEN -4

WHEN 'District of Columbia' THEN -4

WHEN 'Florida' THEN -8

WHEN 'Georgia' THEN -7

WHEN 'Guam' THEN -7

WHEN 'Hawaii' THEN -8

WHEN 'Idaho' THEN -3

WHEN 'Illinois' THEN -3

WHEN 'Indiana' THEN -3

WHEN 'Iowa' THEN -3

WHEN 'Kansas' THEN -5

WHEN 'Kentucky' THEN -4

WHEN 'Louisiana' THEN -6

WHEN 'Maine' THEN -1

WHEN 'Maryland' THEN -4

WHEN 'Massachusetts' THEN -2

WHEN 'Michigan' THEN -2

WHEN 'Minnesota' THEN -2

WHEN 'Mississippi' THEN -6

WHEN 'Missouri' THEN -4

WHEN 'Montana' THEN -2

WHEN 'Nebraska' THEN -4

WHEN 'Nevada' THEN -4

WHEN 'New Hampshire' THEN -1

WHEN 'New Jersey' THEN -3

WHEN 'New Mexico' THEN -6

WHEN 'New York' THEN -2

WHEN 'North Carolina' THEN -5

WHEN 'North Dakota' THEN -2

WHEN 'Ohio' THEN -3

WHEN 'Oklahoma' THEN -6

WHEN 'Oregon' THEN -4

WHEN 'Pennsylvania' THEN -3

WHEN 'Puerto Rico' THEN -8

WHEN 'Rhode Island' THEN -2

WHEN 'South Carolina' THEN -6

WHEN 'South Dakota' THEN -3

WHEN 'Tennessee' THEN -5

WHEN 'Texas' THEN -7

WHEN 'Utah' THEN -4

WHEN 'Vermont' THEN -1

WHEN 'Virginia' THEN -5

WHEN 'Washington' THEN -2

WHEN 'West Virginia' THEN -4

WHEN 'Wisconsin' THEN -2

WHEN 'Wyoming' THEN -3

WHEN 'Yukon' THEN -0

WHEN 'Northwest Territories' THEN -0

WHEN 'Nanavut' THEN -0

WHEN 'Newfoundland & Labrador' THEN -0

WHEN 'British Columbia' THEN -1

WHEN 'Alberta' THEN -1

WHEN 'Saskatchewan' THEN -1

WHEN 'Manitoba' THEN -1

WHEN 'Ontario' THEN -1

WHEN 'Prince Edward Island' THEN -0

WHEN 'Quebec' THEN -1

WHEN 'New Brunswick' THEN -0

WHEN 'Nova Scotia' THEN -0

WHEN 'Unknown' THEN -6.5

END

Step 3: Create a "Column" calculated field with the following calculation:

CASE [Your Long State/Province Field]

WHEN 'Alabama' THEN 7.5

WHEN 'Alaska' THEN 0.5

WHEN 'American Samoa' THEN .5

WHEN 'Arizona' THEN 3

WHEN 'Arkansas' THEN 6

WHEN 'California' THEN 2

WHEN 'Colorado' THEN 4

WHEN 'Connecticut' THEN 11

WHEN 'Delaware' THEN 10.5

WHEN 'District of Columbia' THEN 8.5

WHEN 'Florida' THEN 8.5

WHEN 'Georgia' THEN 8

WHEN 'Guam' THEN 1

WHEN 'Hawaii' THEN 1.5

WHEN 'Idaho' THEN 2

WHEN 'Illinois' THEN 6

WHEN 'Indiana' THEN 7

WHEN 'Iowa' THEN 5

WHEN 'Kansas' THEN 5

WHEN 'Kentucky' THEN 6.5

WHEN 'Louisiana' THEN 5.5

WHEN 'Maine' THEN 12

WHEN 'Maryland' THEN 9.5

WHEN 'Massachusetts' THEN 10.5

WHEN 'Michigan' THEN 7.5

WHEN 'Minnesota' THEN 4.5

WHEN 'Mississippi' THEN 6.5

WHEN 'Missouri' THEN 5.5

WHEN 'Montana' THEN 2.5

WHEN 'Nebraska' THEN 4.5

WHEN 'Nevada' THEN 2.5

WHEN 'New Hampshire' THEN 11

WHEN 'New Jersey' THEN 10

WHEN 'New Mexico' THEN 3.5

WHEN 'New York' THEN 9.5

WHEN 'North Carolina' THEN 9

WHEN 'North Dakota' THEN 3.5

WHEN 'Ohio' THEN 8

WHEN 'Oklahoma' THEN 4.5

WHEN 'Oregon' THEN 1.5

WHEN 'Pennsylvania' THEN 9

WHEN 'Puerto Rico' THEN 11

WHEN 'Rhode Island' THEN 11.5

WHEN 'South Carolina' THEN 8.5

WHEN 'South Dakota' THEN 4

WHEN 'Tennessee' THEN 7

WHEN 'Texas' THEN 4

WHEN 'Utah' THEN 3.5

WHEN 'Vermont' THEN 10

WHEN 'Virginia' THEN 8

WHEN 'Washington' THEN 1.5

WHEN 'West Virginia' THEN 7.5

WHEN 'Wisconsin' THEN 5.5

WHEN 'Wyoming' THEN 3

WHEN 'Yukon' THEN 1.5

WHEN 'Northwest Territories' THEN 2.5

WHEN 'Nanavut' THEN 3.5

WHEN 'Newfoundland & Labrador' THEN 9.5

WHEN 'British Columbia' THEN 2

WHEN 'Alberta' THEN 3

WHEN 'Saskatchewan' THEN 4

WHEN 'Manitoba' THEN 5

WHEN 'Ontario' THEN 7

WHEN 'Prince Edward Island' THEN 11.5

WHEN 'Quebec' THEN 9

WHEN 'New Brunswick' THEN 10.5

WHEN 'Nova Scotia' THEN 12.5

WHEN 'Unknown' THEN 12

END

*Optional* Step 4: If you want abbreviations for the labels but only have the long names, create the following "State/Province Abbr." calculated field:

CASE [Your Long State/Province Field]

WHEN 'Alabama' THEN 'AL'

WHEN 'Alaska' THEN 'AK'

WHEN 'Arizona' THEN 'AZ'

WHEN 'Arkansas' THEN 'AR'

WHEN 'American Samoa' THEN 'AS'

WHEN 'California' THEN 'CA'

WHEN 'Colorado' THEN 'CO'

WHEN 'Connecticut' THEN 'CT'

WHEN 'Delaware' THEN 'DE'

WHEN 'District of Columbia' THEN 'DC'

WHEN 'Florida' THEN 'FL'

WHEN 'Georgia' THEN 'GA'

WHEN 'Guam' THEN 'GU'

WHEN 'Hawaii' THEN 'HI'

WHEN 'Idaho' THEN 'ID'

WHEN 'Illinois' THEN 'IL'

WHEN 'Indiana' THEN 'IN'

WHEN 'Iowa' THEN 'IA'

WHEN 'Kansas' THEN 'KS'

WHEN 'Kentucky' THEN 'KY'

WHEN 'Louisiana' THEN 'LA'

WHEN 'Maine' THEN 'ME'

WHEN 'Maryland' THEN 'MD'

WHEN 'Massachusetts' THEN 'MA'

WHEN 'Michigan' THEN 'MI'

WHEN 'Minnesota' THEN 'MN'

WHEN 'Mississippi' THEN 'MS'

WHEN 'Missouri' THEN 'MO'

WHEN 'Montana' THEN 'MT'

WHEN 'Nebraska' THEN 'NE'

WHEN 'Nevada' THEN 'NV'

WHEN 'New Hampshire' THEN 'NH'

WHEN 'New Jersey' THEN 'NJ'

WHEN 'New Mexico' THEN 'NM'

WHEN 'New York' THEN 'NY'

WHEN 'North Carolina' THEN 'NC'

WHEN 'North Dakota' THEN 'ND'

WHEN 'Ohio' THEN 'OH'

WHEN 'Oklahoma' THEN 'OK'

WHEN 'Oregon' THEN 'OR'

WHEN 'Pennsylvania' THEN 'PA'

WHEN 'Puerto Rico' THEN 'PR'

WHEN 'Rhode Island' THEN 'RI'

WHEN 'South Carolina' THEN 'SC'

WHEN 'South Dakota' THEN 'SD'

WHEN 'Tennessee' THEN 'TN'

WHEN 'Texas' THEN 'TX'

WHEN 'Utah' THEN 'UT'

WHEN 'Vermont' THEN 'VT'

WHEN 'Virginia' THEN 'VA'

WHEN 'Washington' THEN 'WA'

WHEN 'West Virginia' THEN 'WV'

WHEN 'Wisconsin' THEN 'WI'

WHEN 'Wyoming' THEN 'WY'

WHEN 'Yukon' THEN 'YT'

WHEN 'Northwest Territories' THEN 'NT'

WHEN 'Nanavut' THEN 'NU'

WHEN 'Newfoundland & Labrador' THEN 'NL'

WHEN 'British Columbia' THEN 'BC'

WHEN 'Alberta' THEN 'AB'

WHEN 'Saskatchewan' THEN 'SK'

WHEN 'Manitoba' THEN 'MB'

WHEN 'Ontario' THEN 'ON'

WHEN 'Quebec' THEN 'QC'

WHEN 'New Brunswick' THEN 'NB'

WHEN 'Nova Scotia' THEN 'NS'

WHEN 'Prince Edward Island' THEN 'PEI'

WHEN 'Unknown' THEN 'Unkn.'

END

Step 5: Prepare the hexagon shape:

My Tableau Repository select custom shape folder

Download a hexagon image file to your pc. Move that file to your Tableau Repository in Documents > My Tableau Repository > Shapes > Custom as a Custom shape.

Now, make the map:

In a new Tableau worksheet…

  • Put "Row" onto the Rows shelf
  • Put "Column" onto the Columns shelf
  • Make your viz a “Shape”, and select your new Hexagon as the shape
  • Add the State/Province Abbreviations field to your Label
  • Format the worksheet: Remove the axis labels, grid lines, zero lines, and axis rulers
  • Voila, a beautiful hex map of the US and Canada :)

Hex map of the US and Canada, including surrounding territories

My hex map - I colored the states and provinces by country! You’ll probably put a measure on the Color shelf, though.

Now you can add any Measure to the color shelf to allow the user to see your key facts in EVERY state and province, while still maintaining regional fidelity and the beauty of a map :)

Good luck!

 


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