Tableau has been doing amazing things in the field of analytics for quite some time now, and with the release of their new version 10, that trend continues.
Having had quite a bit of ‘hands on’ time with the new version, I wanted to take some time to highlight some of my favorite new features.
A whole new look and feel
The first thing you’ll notice when you launch Tableau 10 is the new look and feel. From the desktop’s designer interface to the visualizations themselves, there’s a whole lot of new stuff going on in here. Shiny new things are always fun, but this update goes beyond slick new packaging. Tableau says the simpler presentation style allows the visualizations to take center stage, and I have to say I’ve been enjoying the ‘less is more’ approach.
For starters, Tableau has removed extraneous items like borders and simplified gridlines by default. This is a welcome improvement in how data is presented. Additional improvements like new color palettes, fonts, and line weights give visualizations a fresh and modern look and feel.
New custom geographic areas
Sometimes existing geographic breakdowns don’t quite meet your needs. Tableau now lets you create custom regions by grouping lower-level regions together. For example, here in the Pacific Northwest, we consider our little corner of the world to be its own unique province, complete with its own flag. I can now create a custom region named “Cascadia” and use it to display the region’s population.
How many times have you published a viz only to later realize that you need to revert to a prior version? If you’ve been burned by this before, you’ve probably learned to create some type of manual versioning in your Tableau Repository to keep past versions of your work. Thankfully, Tableau now lets you roll back to an earlier version with just a click in Tableau Server.
Cross Data Set Filtering
As a data analyst at heart, I think these next couple of changes might be the most exciting of the lot. One of the things I always found overly complicated in Tableau was setting up global filters with multiple data sources. For example, say you have a dashboard with two different sources, each of which contains a time element. Previously, to create a filter that applies to visualizations from each data source, you needed to create a dashboard action or parameter. Tableau has now vastly simplified this process, allowing you to filter across multiple data sets with a single click.
Cross database joins
It’s hard to contain my excitement for this one! This is one of those things that seems so simple, but historically it’s been a real challenge in dashboard builds. You’ve got a zip code over here. You’ve got a zip code over there. Why can’t you just join on them like with other BI and data tools? Tableau now makes it easy, as it should be. If all Tableau included in version 10 was this update, I would be quite happy. This is a very welcome addition.
Another cool new feature in Tableau 10 is automated clustering. Tableau now makes it incredibly easy to accomplish analyses that used to require advanced statistical software. Through a simple drag and drop, Tableau automatically clusters your data according to patterns it finds and displays them in any visualization you’ve chosen—from scatter plots to text tables and even maps.
As computer, phone, and tablet technologies converge, the way in which we consume information is changing. Tableau’s Device Designer helps report builders optimize visualizations and dashboards for the mobile world. With the ability to specify a canvas size right down to the individual device model, we can now rest assured that no valuable screen real estate is going to waste.