Thursday, 18 August 2016 10:25

Tableau 10: more data sources, even easier visualisations

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Tableau 10, released this week, brings an extensive list of new and improved features to the end-user-oriented visualisation software.

Building on the success of Tableau 9, Tableau 10 features design improvements, data handling enhancements, and advances in usability and analytics.

New connectors for Google Sheets, QuickBooks Online and various big data platforms have been added, and the automatic cleaning of data from Google Sheets, Excel and text files has been improved. "That's really important for helping people stay in the flow," said ANZ pre-sales manager Alan Eldridge.

Data from multiple sources can be combined with a database-style join to deliver what can then be treated within Tableau as a single source, a process that Eldridge described as "agile data mashups on the fly".

New visualisation capabilities include the ability to create clusters (eg, to colour-code countries on a map according to data values in one or more fields), the data highlighter (emphasises parts of the visualisation while still showing the others, eg, to draw attention to a particular line on a chart), and to combine territories on a map (eg, so that Australia and New Zealand are treated as a region, or treat a particular set of postcodes as a unit).

"We can't wait to integrate Tableau 10 into our everyday analytic processes. Being able to bring together data from different sources will open up a whole new set of opportunities for us. Viewing multiple data sets quickly and easily will help us get most out of the real-time data we are continually collecting," said NRMA data analyst Dimitri Blyumin.

"The updated calculations dialog will instantly eliminate hours of configuring complex table calculations allowing us to focus our time on providing the insights needed to provide great customer services."

Apart from the addition of an Android phone client — Android support was previously tablet-only the new version includes a device designer feature for creating dashboard variations to suit a range of display sizes. The most appropriate version is then automatically delivered to the device.

Tableau 10 also includes support for the Airwatch and MobileIron mobile device management systems to help protect data.

Improvements aimed at large-scale users include the ability to push updated dashboard to users according to a schedule, version control for data sources, usage statistics to reveal which data is used the most, and APIs that can be used, for example, to add interactivity to visualisations embedded in Web pages or to build Tableau's capabilities into custom applications.

The new version of Tableau can be deployed on-premises or on Google Cloud, as an alternative to the previously supported AWS and Azure. And Tableau Online (the SaaS version of the software) incorporates all the new capabilities plus improvements to creating and editing new dashboards.

"Tableau 10 includes a number of exciting new capabilities that deliver even greater analytical power to business users," said Tableau's ANZ country manager Nigel Mendonca.

"The new design further drives our commitment to make data the hero and have the application fade into the background. We have enabled better data-mashup capabilities, cross-database filtering and drag-and-drop clustering.

"The new responsive mobile design capability lets users customise and publish a single dashboard with optimised views for any mobile device, and version control and mobile device management features give administrators and IT even more control over Tableau deployments, further fostering engagement between IT and the business."

A free trial of Tableau Server, Desktop or Online is available.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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