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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I participated in an hour and a half technical presentation of the Tableau Software visualization system. I had seen a demonstration last year, but had never seen the details of the package. Formerly had been a Spotfire user, also a package which emphasises interaction and iterative work with the visualization. Overall, Tableau is very nicely done. It seems it would take some time to get used to the details, there are lots of them. Yet it is very easy to get started. Once you understand how their drag-and-drop fundamentals work you can construct simple visualizations. I then imported a small Excel spreadsheet and within minutes got used to the basics. This is my typical approach to learning a new application, though it does not usually give you as broad a view of what is possible. That makes good training useful.

What is impressive is that Tableau covers a lot of publishing details that other packages do not. A good example is the ability to do annotation of visualizations to make them ready for sharing. A free reader that consumers of your visualizations can download allows you to readily distribute your work. A server version connects you to live databases. I also like the way they handle dates, frequently problematic. Like all packages like this, it takes time to get up to full speed. Will take working on a more realistic problem. Like what I have seen so far.

1 comment:

DGM885 said...

Tableau is an excellent tool. I'm an experienced spreadsheet user who's also building a data warehouse. With one Tableau Desktop license you can being distributing very nice graphical or tabular analysis very quickly.

Check out there user conference July in Seattle.