Category Archives: Tableau

Free Webinar—Visual Analytics Best Practices
Why Can’t You See My Point?!?


You can have brilliant ideas,
but if you can't get them across,
your ideas won't get you anywhere.

-Lee Iacocca


The webinar is past but you can watch the recording and view the slides below.
This post is currently being updated with the slides and videos.

Why do visual analytics best practices matter?

Why can’t people see your point when you present data-oriented presentations?

Whether you are using big data, small data or summarized data that has been prepared for you, this webinar will explore these vital questions. If you are concerned with getting the most from your data, this complimentary webinar is a great step in learning how to clearly communicate with people as they make better informed decisions in the hectic world of modern business.
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Grayscale versus Color—Visual Analytics Best Practices
and Rapid Graphs with Tableau 8

Get it right in black and white.

–Maureen Stone
  Leading expert on effective
  use of color in information visualization


A recent review on Amazon commented about our change in the Tableau 8 book to using grayscale images versus the prior versions using color images.   This post summarizes our thoughts on grayscale versus color usage in charts and graphs as well as the rationale for changing the book.

Thanks for taking the time to review our book.  Also, thanks for highlighting the high quality and thoroughness of the content --- we are passionate about helping people analyze their data, which motivated Stephen to approach Tableau in 2008 about writing the first book on the software.

While the past few versions were indeed in color, many people asked if we could lower the list price for the launch of the 8.0 edition. We also are surprised at the high price of printing in color, especially a time-sensitive book like this one about Tableau (the software updates every 14-18 months and most publishers take 4-6 months -AFTER- the author finishes to get the books to market).  Unlike most publishers (large or small), our books sold in the U.S. are printed in the U.S., so we can publish relatively quickly after release. Continue reading

Free Webinar—Better Dashboards in Tableau 8
Video and Slides Now Available

201306-Freakalytics-Nuclear-Power-602Attend this complimentary webinar for ideas and inspiration to design informative, dynamic and captivating dashboard experiences with Tableau 8.

The webinar is past but you can watch the recording, download the workbook and view the slides below.

In this complimentary webinar, Stephen will walk you through the steps to build one of the advanced dashboards that ships in Tableau 8. Stephen will be using the World Nuclear Power Plants example that he designed while Director of Analytics at Tableau. Stephen was inspired to create this example based on the work of Peter Aldhous at The New Scientist.

Click here for the rest of this post including webinar slides, video and example workbooks Continue reading

Exercises and videos for Rapid Graphs with Tableau 8

RGTS8_433If you are interested in buying the book, please follow this link.

There are three sample datasets used in the Tableau 8 book that are free for anyone to use, but you must be a registered user of our site to access these downloads. Registration connects us with you so we can keep in touch with you with course schedules, book updates and other topics of interest. You may unsubscribe from the e-mail list at any time by visiting our home page and clicking on the unsubscribe link. Please note that we will never share this registration information with another company.
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Joyful or informative charts? Best practices in visual analytics

Small_packed_bubble_chartStephen Few, noted visual analytics expert and the original inspiration for our work in the field, recently wrote about criticisms of best data visualizations practices. In particular, Amanda Cox of the New York Times said, "There’s a strand of the data viz world that argues that everything could be a bar chart. That’s possibly true but also possibly a world without joy." And Nathan Yau of Flowing Data wrote, "in visualization you eventually learn that there’s more to the process than efficient graphical perception and avoidance of all things round. Design matters, no doubt, but your understanding of the data matters much more." These are both people who have a body of work that I admire but I am also surprised at these comments.

This discussion reminds me of a similar problem in marketing and web analytics. Generating traffic that leads to sales is good. Eventually, someone finds a way to generate traffic that leads to not many new sales, but management is misled to think this must be good since traffic leads to sales. This is similar to "look, this chart is beautiful", but hard to interpret or understand. So, while we delivered fun graphs, minimal information is shared. This may be good for traffic, but not so much for higher sales.

I suspect that part of this recent criticism can be traced back to Stephen's recent criticism of Tableau, "Tableau Veers from the Path". In it, he mentions a new graph type in Tableau, packed bubble charts and contrasts them with bar charts. This is an example of the "avoidance of all things circular". Is Stephen truly anti-joy@f16 Will an example show him to be wrong@f17 Let's give it a try and you can judge for yourself.

Here's a packed bubble chart example Continue reading

Tableau Tips: Nested sorting not as expected- a simple fix

Many students have been confused about the Tableau data sort behavior.   A common question is how to sort the data at a lower level correctly within each higher level of data in a view.   One student recently came to us with this view and asked, “What’s up? I thought it would sort each state independently within each Product Type! In the first group, Herbal Tea, Nevada is clearly number one yet it is shown in the fourth position.”





I replied that Tableau was sorting State overall across every product type once for the entire table and then displaying this sort order for every Product Type.   She said this is “stupid, how can I fix it! I wasted hours trying to fix it already.”

Login to see the solution including a solution workbook! If you haven’t joined Freakalytics yet, it’s free and easy.   Just click signup.
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Alteryx Inspire 2013 Tableau Talk

0 Picture This

Download the presentation Picture This! Your Data in Tableau.

Watch my big data talk here and download the example workbooks here (requires Tableau 8 to open).

Attending this conference was a great experience. Based on multiple customer discussions at the conference, Alteryx is a great product for personal data integration, data enrichment and predictive analytics. Some amazing things we saw in Alteryx includes upcoming direct integration with the Tableau Data Engine, interactive location mapping to generate demographic profiles in Tableau, support of Revolution R 3.0 and integration with social data API's including Yelp, Google + and Facebook.

The presentation includes s a screenshot of one of the marketing performance dashboards built in Tableau. It was based on data built with Alteryx. Alteryx was used for data integration, data enrichment and predictive modelling of customer likelihood to respond to future coupon offers. Enrichment included fuzzy matching of customer demographics using Alteryx-bundled 3rd party data sources from Experian.

If you are looking for a great compliment to Tableau, I recommend that you consider Alteryx.

Rapid Graphs with Tableau 8 –
now on Amazon and on

Rapid Graphs with Tableau 8
The Original Guide for the Accidental Analyst

The 8 version of this book is published in grayscale in order to meet popular demand for a lower list price versus earlier versions (5, 6 and 7) of this book series.

Rapid_Graphs_Tableau_8_Freakalytics_Copyright_346_433+ Written by Tableau insider
& former product manager, teaching
Tableau to thousands since 2009

+ Real-world examples that you
can follow include tips
and tricks to save you time

+ High-def videos & solutions

+ The fourth edition—proven & trusted

+ Buy it on Amazon

Preview the table of contents and Chapter 1 here.

Exclusive to Freakalytics, we are granting free online access to Rapid Graphs with Tableau 8!

201307_Quick_Dirty_Tableau_8_Freakalytics_027Read Chapter 2 (pages 21-39)

Build the core—Tableau basics—21
Download, install and open Tableau—22
Connect to sample data and review the Tableau interface—25
“Show Me” Tableau in action—29
Categorically clear views—35

201307_Quick_Dirty_Tableau_8_Freakalytics_051Read Chapter 3 (pages 41-58)

Go with the flow—more Tableau basics-41
Save time with the Tableau toolbar-42
When tables trump graphs-44
Insightful maps-48
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Tableau tip- what’s smaller than a Tableau Data Extract?

tde_smaller_freakalyticsWhile working with a client, they asked if I would show them how to analyze payment history and futures with a Gantt chart. I asked them to make a Tableau Data Extract (TDE). They created a TDE and then e-mailed it to me, all 25 Megabytes (MB)! Fairly big for an e-mail attachment (at many companies there is a 10 MB limit, so it wouldn't have made it through).

After working with them on their project, I told them I would send it back later. When I saved the Gantt chart project as a packaged workbook, I was surprised to see that it was just 4.5 MB! Even though the TDE was much smaller than the original data source, the Packaged workbook which includes the TDE was even smaller, just 20% of the TDE size.

So, the next time you want to share a large TDE, I suggest that you first save it in an empty packaged workbook before sending it along.

Want to learn more about Tableau file types and why they exist@f14 Read this article.