1 2 Previous Next 20 Replies Latest reply on Jan 8, 2013 1:14 AM by Andrew Marritt

    Minor Rant...

    Shawn Wallwork

      Tableau is a tool.

      Tableau does interactivity really well.

      Tableau does data visualization extremely well.


      Interactivity doesn't print well.

      Cross-tabs don't visualize well.


      Please stop trying to make a data viz hammer,

      into an all-purpose screw-driver.


      Thank you.



        • 1. Re: Minor Rant...

          I have a sneaking suspicion that this rant was triggered by some attempt or attempts to get Tableau to do a massive table with lots and lots of numbers all over the place. I have seen quite a few of those in Excel, some people call them "reports" and think they are useful. I am still waiting to discover how people can extract any interesting insights from those giant matrices.

          • 2. Re: Minor Rant...
            Jonathan Drummey

            Dimitri: I first read that as "giant mattresses", I'm imagining piles and heaps of lumpy numbers.


            Shawn: I have to say I'm one of the people on the "make Tableau better at crosstabs and traditional reporting" bandwagon; I want Tableau's UX design skills applied to reporting functions because I'm a fan of how Tableau approaches displaying data (as compared to Microsoft), and I want Tableau's fully integrated sparklines and other graphs so I can create output like this http://community.tableau.com/ideas/1181. And that means being better about pagination, "batch" output, and email delivery. My organization is in its infancy with self-service BI, there's still a lot of handholding (like output to PDF and PowerPoint) that we have to do and I'd rather do that from Tableau than Excel/Access.



            • 3. Re: Minor Rant...



              I have to agree with Shawn on "Interactivity does not print well". The look and feel of a dashboard once converted to pdf is pretty bad.

              The whole "data discovery" process is great but 90% of our users don't have time for it and just prefer to get the information they need delivered to their email every morning.


              Which brings me to Jonathan's post: we indeed need better handling of pdf and report scheduling.

              I have updated my post on this idea with an example from the competition. I would LOVE to see this in Tableau.

              (link here: http://community.tableau.com/ideas/1279 )


              For a solution that promotes "Self Service BI", do not ask me to use the tabcmd tool and windows scheduler to send my reports!


              PS: I can't seem to make the hyperlink work even by using the dedicated toolbar! Sorry... Please copy and paste it into your browser instead.

              • 4. Re: Minor Rant...
                Eron Lloyd

                While I generally agree, it would be nice, for example, to at least be able to properly paginate PDFs. That shouldn't be too much to ask and is a long-missing feature.

                • 5. Re: Minor Rant...
                  Steve Martin

                  I agree with everything, [and like Jonathan, I too saw mattresses which boggled me for a moment]; like Jonathan, I too have had to prepare this for pdf which is especially annoying when I have quite a large vertically scrolling cross-tab; I have had to unhide all the sheets rename them to "Print: xxx" then tell the guys on the ground that if they want to print properly to select the sheets then choose print > selected sheets.


                  As Joe M will tell you, my company is also in its infancy and we are running huge and complex "reports" from sheets of Excel data - I swear that Excel should be removed the MS Office arsenal and be placed totally within the realms of Microsoft's BI offering as end users really cannot use it to do anything remotely useful using calcs then expect Tableau with all its usefulness [and some of its limitations] to be able to replicate what they did in the time being given by BI architects such as us. *full stop here to take air*


                  ...then they get rather annoyed when some inexperienced junior in sales can knock this out in a couple of hours in Excel but why can't this all encompassing tool [Tableau (or Qlikview/Spotfire et al)] do it in the time YOU SAID it would - "that's because Jimmy didn't so much as build it but forced numbers into cells then referred to them later...!"


                  Yes, I know where you are coming from and I think it shall be quite sometime for most companies to truly accept the changeable methods of self-service BI over Excel.

                  • 6. Re: Minor Rant...
                    Ryan Robitaille

                    Agree with all of you.


                    BUT, we also desperately need a huge "Paradigm Shift in Managerial Expectations in terms of *Reporting*" (whew, now THAT'S a mouthful).

                    { Imagine that I'm using air-quotes every time I say 'Reporting', I think that term is WAAAYY too ambiguous and generic these days }


                    Like Shawn, I use all kinds of tools to produce many stodgy, ****-y formatted, or inappropriate (paginated) reports that I'd rather use Tableau for (for one-stop self-service, etc) - and in other cases (in Tableau) I have to use an interactive viz and a separate printer-friendly version, often having very little in common usability-wise. Funny thing is, usually once users get the hang of the interactive one, they almost never use the PDF-based one that was initially "required".


                    Then again, I could just be bitter, coming from an organization where the "report definitions" were created by (data challenged) analysts via free-form, heavily formatted Excel files.


                    My apologies for appending a slightly different rant. : )

                    • 7. Re: Minor Rant...
                      Shawn Wallwork

                      No apology necessary Ryan. I'm with you on your rant version. Also glad to see you stop by the forums. Better than staring at the walls in an airport



                      • 8. Re: Minor Rant...

                        Hi Shawn and gathered mob! 


                        Having said all of this, what automation in Desktop would be most useful?


                        Best regards,

                        Stephen McDaniel

                        Director of Analytic Product Management

                        Tableau Software

                        • 9. Re: Minor Rant...
                          Michael Mixon

                          I encounter this fairly regularly...I put together a nice interactive viz, and then the users come to me and say that all they really want is a screen-shot for a slide.  That really cuts Tableau off at the knees, as so much of the great functionality that Tableau offers doesn't translate to a static slide.  The main excuses I hear from people for why they don't use Tableau live in their meetings (something I encourage them to do all the time), are the following:


                          • It's too slow.  Not all users have fast machines, and some vizes are complex and can't refresh in 1-2 seconds.  The worst thing is to have to wait for Tableau to refresh while you're conveying a thought..."As you'll see, once Tableau finishes refreshing..."
                          • They want to be able to add comments to specific charts.  Unfortunately, unless they have Desktop, they can't do that.  Version 8, with the browser edit feature, may help here, but only if performance is also improved.


                          So what I find myself doing is creating multiple versions of the same analysis, one optimized for slide use (which often means either a more aggregated view, often just tabular, or specific cuts based on what a user wants to focus on that week), and another optimized for interactivity.  Somewhat frustrating, but at the end of the day, getting people meaningful and usable info is the primary objective.


                          Let's hope that v8, with the in-browser editing and improved overall performance, gets us closer to the goal of replacing PowerPoint as the dominant tool for meetings. :-)



                          • 10. Re: Minor Rant...

                            Stephen, are you asking about something like macros/VBA in Excel?

                            • 11. Re: Minor Rant...

                              Hear, hear.

                              Forget presentations, I consider something that takes more than 5 seconds to refresh generally unacceptable, even if no-one is presenting anything to a bunch of bored people.

                              Unfortunately, the only ways to avoid this are trimming and culling of data, throwing more hardware at the server, doing some Jedi performance tuning (Richard Leeke is a (Zen?)master of those), or any combination of the above.

                              And to add insult to injury - a viz can be quite zippy on the Desktop but, once published, it gets frustratingly slow. I suspect that has a lot to do with the rendering engine. If only server could render as fast as desktop...

                              • 12. Re: Minor Rant...

                                I post a question a while back regarding the refresh speed in Tableau Vs Qlikview:


                                I have used Qlikview for a while before getting under the charms of Tableau. While I have no intention of returning back to Qlikview (even more so after hearing the great stuff Tableau 8.0 will bring) Tableau should strive to offer the same refresh speed.


                                But this issue aside, I would still love to see Tableau doing a much better job (paging, layout etc...) when exporting to the good old pdf. Especially now that Tableau 8 offers the ability to subscribe to views.



                                • 13. Re: Minor Rant...
                                  Jonathan Drummey

                                  Hi Stephen,


                                  I'm not sure what you mean by "automation", here's my attempt to answer with regards to "reporting". There are Ideas that exist for most of these, if you want I can dig up the references.


                                  - Something like the Pages Shelf but different in that it doesn't draw every possible header, but just the header(s) of interest.

                                  - Access to this updated/different Pages Shelf within calculated fields. Right now, the Pages Shelf seems to be one of the last things to be rendered and there's no way within a calculated field to identify the current value(s) of the discrete field(s) on the Pages Shelf. A use case here is a Hans Rosling-style explosion of a bubble into a drilled-down set of elements within a motion chart. (Alternatively, some sort of "drill-down just this mark within the chart" feature could meet this use case).

                                  - Control over breaks between headers, including pagination. For example, I might want to have a header not be in a tabular format w/borders, but be just a text heading with white space between that and the next table.

                                  - Control over page headers & footers - I'm thinking something like what we already have with Titles here, with some extra bits that would let us access the dimension & measure values within the specific output "page". That way I could put "Bob Smith's Ongoing Professional Performance Evaluation" in the footer.

                                  - Absolute control over legend layouts (size, line breaks, etc.) for exported and printed worksheets & dashboards. Right now Tableau makes some decisions about sizing that lead to legend text being cut off, legends being in a different order than I'd like, etc.

                                  - Ability to export & print every page of a paginated report.

                                  - Ability to email each page of a paginated report to individual user(s) determined by details from that page.

                                  - Track opened/read receipts on emails

                                  - Support ability to click on the report in the email to go to a view on Tableau Server.

                                  - Ability to do all of the above, but for a dashboard that is combining different worksheets.


                                  Those are the basics I can think of, now along with that come some other requirements to make the reports have as much detail as I'd like:


                                  - More control over conditional formatting of cells. Measure Names/Measure Values only has one Marks Card, I'd be looking for something like a Marks Card for each column of a tabular report. A multiple axis crosstab can get there, but it has fixed sizes for each column and starts getting slow to render.

                                  - In cell charting (i.e. sparklines, time series within a cell of a larger table, etc.)


                                  I'd frame all of this as "do just enough of what Crystal & Access reports do so I don't have to use them."


                                  Now, for the presentation part:


                                  - "Projector mode" where the type sizes have a minimum size and labels, etc. are dynamically adjusted and resized. I've found that I often have to create two views, one with 12-14 pt fonts at a minimum so they can be read from 40 feet away, and that means rearranging labels and suchlike, and then one for analysis and/or printing.



                                  • 14. Re: Minor Rant...
                                    Allan Walker

                                    Command line/scripting features like opening up files in a folder, refreshing the connection or extract would be good. Rationale: If I have say 20 or 30 departmental level dashboards that have a change - why do I need to open up all of these files, do the same job 20-30 times, and then re-publish?


                                    In Excel, I'd just a VBA macro to do exactly that with one click. I understand from a business model perspective that publishing can't be automated (or I'd be told "just buy server") but other mundane tasks could/should be automated.

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