3 Replies Latest reply on Mar 27, 2012 12:49 PM by Daniel Hom

    Data Visualization: Does Tableau strike the right balance?

    Shawn Wallwork

      'Data Visualization' this is what Tableau does (and does quite well, or you probably wouldn't be reading this).

       

      Two words: 'Data' & 'Visualization'.

       

      My question for you is this: Has Tableau gotten the balance between these two words (concepts) right?

       

      Let me get the ball rolling with a few observations of my own...

       

      It seems to me the original driving force at Tableau was 'data'. The founders came at the problem from a data standpoint; actually 'the problem' was: How can we make data more visually understandable? Great question! Great quest! And Tableau's answer so far has been quite compelling. But I believe the 'visualization' side of the equation/goal has suffered from the 'data-bias' built-in to the roots of the company. My users are looking at 'finished' visualizations and asking why can't you just bold/color/highlight our client, so they will stand out from the rest? Why can't you drop in a logo on the map? Why can't you slide that over a bit and insert that ... like you can in Power Point?

       

      And that's the problem. Tableau doesn't function like other 'graphics' (visualization) programs that we have all become accustom to. Before I learned some pretty serious if/then/else/case/when/end statements I couldn't produce anything close to what my clients expected their visualizations to look like. And really is that making 'Data Visualization' easier? Should you need to be able to understand programmer-type language to produce a visualization? I wonder if Tableau is spending too much of their time and resources trying to innovate the wheel (think 'containers') when there are perfectly serviceable examples of GUIs out there that work just fine (think Power Point, Word, Excel, Adobe)? 

       

      What do you think, is the visualization side getting short-changed?

       

      --Shawn

        • 1. Re: Data Visualization: Does Tableau strike the right balance?
          Daniel Hom

          Hi Shawn,

           

          Interesting question. I tend to work with Tableau Public a lot, whose users seemingly at times care much more about the actual presentation of their vizzes (unsurprisingly since they're publishing these to the web to share publicly). So on a personal note, I don't know if Tableau has missed the balance between data and visualization as you've defined them, but I do wish there were more "visualization" to it. Everything you mentioned is something I've struggled with many, many times (layout containers crush me on a near-daily basis).

           

          The good news is we know about these concerns and we're actively working to improve them. If you'd be willing to share an example of some of the if/then/case statements you've written to produce your vizzes, and how you'd like to see it implemented, our teams to do read the forums, and what you'd like may just make it in (if it's not already being worked on).

           

          Cheers,

          Dan

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Data Visualization: Does Tableau strike the right balance?
            Shawn Wallwork

            Daniel, one of the really cool aspects of the Tableau culture is you folks don't have that 'fortress' mentality (think Microsoft).

            Everything you mentioned is something I've struggled with many, many times (layout containers crush me on a near-daily basis).

            Thanks for sharing this. I obviously share your pain . As to your question about field calculations, I have just finished a viz with a simple example. I'll start with what I wanted to write:

             

            IIF([Parameter].[Primary Segment] = [Measure Names], [Measure Values], NULL)

             

            Instead, I had to write this (with a big assist from Alex!):

            Daniel-1.PNG

            It goes on for 72 lines. I am currently revising this so the results will be filtered to > user-defined index number. That statement looks like this:

            Daniel-2.PNG

            And then on the Differential page I (the client) wants a filter that to show only attitudes above and below a user-defined index. That statement will look something like this:

             

            Daniel-3.PNG

            This one has more measures, and goes on for 102 lines. It also executes slowly. Each time a different parameter is chosen, I get the 'calculating' warning box. Again all of these calculated fields would be much easier to generate/read/test if we had access to the Measure Values/Names variables.

             

            I attached a workbook for you (or anyone) to look at and see if I am torturing myself needlessly! Is there an easier way to do this? Any suggestions?

             

            --Shawn

            • 3. Re: Data Visualization: Does Tableau strike the right balance?
              Daniel Hom

              Hey Shawn,

               

              Unfortunately I think what you have is the only way to do what you want (though I'd love to be proven wrong). And you touched on why--you currently can't use 'Measure Names' or 'Measure Values' in calculated fields.

               

              I'll forward this along as an idea for us to change. Thanks for sharing!

               

              Cheers,

              Dan