Category Archives: Visual Analytics–Best Practices

Webcast: “Big Data” on your laptop, fast, informative and at your command

NOTE: This fun review of "big data" was inspired by a recent presentation I gave on behalf of Tableau Software at the Big Data Conference in Chicago. You can find the 1st part of this 3 part webcast here, "Performance to Cost Index & my personal history with “Big Data” and Part 2 here, "Big Data" in US History, Exploring the 1790 US Census. This part of the big data series is free, just subscribe or sign in below.

In this presentation, I share an example of working with big data stored on my laptop and the entire analysis happens without any type of connection to remote servers or databases. My analysis uses two tables of interest, the first has 216 million records, over ten years of airline ticket pricing in the US while the second table has 72 million records of US airlines performance data extracted from Hadoop. In the demonstration, which uses currently available technologies, we will quickly explore and analyze this data for interesting trends and patterns. Continue reading

Avoid flatline charts—visual analytics best practices

Balancing analysis of multiple years by filtering through the same month/day as today
Topics in this example
1) With a line chart, by placing Year(Order Date) on the Color shelf and Month(Date) on the columns, you can easily compare multiple years on the same pane of the graph. Just use Running Totals from the Quick Table Calculation dialog.
2) If this were real-world data, you would likely want to keep data through today; otherwise, prior years would likely be much higher since they are based on a full month while this year's latest month is partially complete, unless it is the last day of the month!
3) By creating a calculated field that can check if the month/day is before today's month/day and placing it on the filter shelf and selecting True, you can keep year-to-date data Continue reading

Freakalytics Newsletter, May 2012

Thank you for your interest in our newsletter. Please share it with your colleagues and friends that you think can benefit from it.

We are happy to share some great news, Eileen is close to the final release of our upcoming book, "The Accidental Analyst"! Look for training opportunities around the Accidental Analysts soon! Also, if you pre-ordered this book, you will need to reorder it on Amazon in the coming weeks due to changes in the publication channel.

Click to read about it and order

Even more great news, in addition to continuing to teach our in-person Tableau training seminars, Stephen has recently joined Tableau Software as Director of Analytic Product Management. In his role at Tableau, he will help shape the future direction of their products over the coming years.

We always enjoy hearing your thoughts, feedback and ideas- please drop us a line sometime.

Best regards,
Stephen McDaniel and Eileen McDaniel, PhD
Freakalytics, LLC

Complete Tableau Training in Palo Alto California, June 2012
   Rapid Graphs and Data Analysis with Tableau- Days 1 & 2
   Dashboard Design and Advanced Mapping with Tableau- Day 3
   Data Preparation and Management for Tableau- Day 4

Rapid Graphs with Tableau Software 7 on Amazon, Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook

Top Freakalytics articles of 2012

In case you have been too busy to keep up with us on the web site, here are the top 5 articles of early 2012. Enjoy!

   1) Bullet charts and simple enhancements to maximize value
   2) Quick and dirty analysis with Tableau 6 (in thirteen lucky steps)
   3) Quick tutorial on reference lines, bands and distributions
   4) A dashboard to select high-quality stocks with high yield and low volatility
   5) The growth of the US Deficit relative to GDP since President Nixon. Which Presidents managed it best?

Our quick reference for building better graphs and dashboards

   Preview it here, available on Android and iPhone, or buy the laminated version at Amazon (out of stock, but more on the way!)
Image for Amazon Quick Reference Card 240 300

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Why choose Complete Tableau Training by Freakalytics?
A recent attendee’s perspective

Freakalytics Enhanced bullet chart

This review of our 4 day training series was written on LinkedIn by a recent public training attendee, Danyelle.  She works at the US Department of Health and Human Services as a Senior Data Advisor.  I had the great pleasure of speaking with her  outside of the class and was fascinated to hear how she is a change agent for her organization's use of data. They are undergoing significant changes in how their studies are analyzed, presented and shared- all with the goal of increasing the return on their investment in research.  You can read her original post in the Tableau Software Group on LinkedIn, it was written in response to our upcoming training in Frankfurt.

"I went to Stephen and Eileen's 4-day Complete Tableau Training in Washington DC a couple weeks ago and it was WELL worth the time and money.

I was most impressed by their case study approach to teaching Tableau. The class ranges from people using Tableau every day at work to people like me who had only read about Tableau.

Reflecting back on the class, I am even more impressed by the quality of instruction and how well it worked for all in attendance. I was immediately able to go back to work and apply the skills I gained in the training to solve a problem that some thought couldn't be done in-house."

Thanks Danyelle for sharing your thoughts!  Read all about our training at

Quick tutorial on reference lines, bands and distributions – visual analytics best practices

The following article features Tableau 6

Reference lines, bands or distributions may be added to your views to emphasize particular values or areas that may be useful in interpreting your data. In particular, when comparing multiple groups or categories of data, reference lines and bands provide immediate feedback on the overall differences between the groups.

Reference lines

Reference lines are vertical or horizontal lines displayed on your view that mark requested values such as average, median, minimum, maximum, sum, total and constants (such as a line that separates the data points as being above or below a target). They can be added on any continuous axis.

1) Open the Sample - Coffee Chain (Access) data source included by default with Tableau 6

2) Place Sales on the Columns shelf and change the aggregate to Average.

3) Place Product on the Rows shelf,
     State and Date on the Level of Detail shelf
     and format
Date to ‘MMMM YYYY’.

Continue reading

State of Washington government salaries from 2010, search all 160,000 employees

State of Washington government salary information is now available at The dashboard is fully searchable by agency, job title and employee using a dashboard developed by Freakalytics and hosted by Tableau Public. Both companies are based in Seattle, Washington. Freakalytics specializes in expert, in-person analytics training and popular books on analytics. Tableau is a world-leading software company specializing in fast-analytics software.

Wimbledon winners longevity, by years since 1st win
small form-factor

Freakalytics is the exclusive source of the original
Complete Tableau Training (4 days) and our new course,
Data Management and Visual Analytics with Tableau (2-days).
For a detailed review of Tableau features, pricing and capabilities, visit PowerTrip Analytics.
For the Tableau Online pricing calculator, click here.

Wimbledon winners by ranking (seed) and gender, small form-factor

Freakalytics is the exclusive source of the original
Complete Tableau Training (4 days) and our new course,
Data Management and Visual Analytics with Tableau (2-days).
For a detailed review of Tableau features, pricing and capabilities, visit PowerTrip Analytics.
For the Tableau Online pricing calculator, click here.