Book Image

Learning Tableau

By : Joshua N. Milligan
Book Image

Learning Tableau

By: Joshua N. Milligan

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (18 chapters)
Learning Tableau
About the Author
About the Reviewers
Adding Value to Analysis – Trends, Distributions, and Forecasting


The Tableau community is full of individuals passionate about the software. We use software every day—web browsers, word processors, e-mail applications, instant messaging, and numerous other apps. What is it about Tableau that inspires people to write books and blogs and spend hours volunteering to help others visualize their data?

Tableau is unique in several ways. It is easy and transparent. You can immediately connect to nearly any data source and start asking and answering questions about your data in a visual way. It's also intuitive. Its interface allows hands-on interaction with data, it's easy to get into a flow, and every action uncovers new insights. It's fun! It allows creativity and gives freedom. You're not locked into chart types and wizards that give only one path to a solution. Tableau designers feel like artists, with data as paint and Tableau as a blank canvas.

At the same time, Tableau introduces a paradigm vastly different from traditional BI tools. This book presents the fundamentals for understanding and working within that paradigm. It will equip you with the foundational concepts that will help you use Tableau to explore, analyze, visualize, and share the stories contained in your data.

What this book covers

Chapter 1, Creating Your First Visualizations and Dashboard, introduces the basic concepts of data visualization and multiple examples of individual visualizations, which are ultimately put together in an interactive dashboard.

Chapter 2, Working with Data in Tableau, shows that Tableau has a very distinctive paradigm for working with data. This chapter explores that paradigm and gives examples of connecting to and working with various data sources.

Chapter 3, Moving from Foundational to Advanced Visualizations, expands upon the basic concepts of data visualization to show you how standard visualization types can be extended.

Chapter 4, Using Row-level and Aggregate Calculations, introduces the concepts of calculated fields and the practical use of calculations, and walks through the foundational concepts for creating row-level and aggregate calculations.

Chapter 5, Table Calculations, proves that table calculations are one of the most complex and powerful features in Tableau. This chapter breaks down the basics of scope, direction, partitioning, and addressing to help you understand and use these to solve practical problems.

Chapter 6, Formatting a Visualization to Look Great and Work Well, shows how formatting can make a standard visualization look great, have appeal, and communicate well. This chapter introduces and explains the concept of formatting in Tableau.

Chapter 7, Telling a Data Story with Dashboards, dives into the details of building dashboards and telling stories with data. It covers the types of dashboards, objectives of dashboards, and concepts such as actions and filters. All of this is done in the context of practical examples.

Chapter 8, Adding Value to Analysis – Trends, Distributions, and Forecasting, explores the analytical capabilities of Tableau and demonstrates how to use trend lines, distributions, and forecasting to dive deeper into the analysis of your data.

Chapter 9, Making Data Work for You, explains that data in the real world isn't always structured well. This chapter examines the structures that work best and the techniques that can be used to address data that can't be fixed.

Chapter 10, Advanced Techniques, Tips, and Tricks, builds upon the concepts covered in the previous chapters. This chapter expands your horizons by introducing numerous advanced techniques while giving practical advice and tips.

Chapter 11, Sharing Your Data Story, throws light on the fact that that, once you've built your visualizations and dashboards, you'll want to share them. This chapter explores numerous ways of sharing your stories with others.

What you need for this book

You will need a licensed or trial version of Tableau Desktop to follow the examples contained in this book. You may download Tableau Desktop from Tableau Software at Tableau Public is also available as a free download from Tableau and may be used with many of the examples. The examples in this book use the interface and features of Tableau 9.0.

The concepts will apply to other versions, though some interface steps and terminology may vary. The provided workbooks may be opened in Tableau 9.0 or later versions, though you can use any version to connect to the provided data files to work through the examples.

Who this book is for

Anyone seeking to understand their data and enhance their skills to visually explore, analyze, and present their data story to others will greatly benefit from this book. While it is assumed that you have some knowledge of data, you do not need to have in-depth knowledge of databases, SQL scripts, or coding.

This book starts with the foundational principles and builds upon them to acclimate you to advanced concepts. The goal is to give not a series of steps to memorize but a solid understanding of working in the Tableau paradigm. Whether you are just a beginner or have years of experience, this book will further you in the journey of learning—and even mastering—Tableau.


In this book, you will find a number of styles of text that distinguish between different kinds of information. Here are some examples of these styles, and an explanation of their meaning.

Code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, and user input are shown as follows: "We'll create a calculated field named Floor to determine whether an apartment is upstairs or downstairs."

A block of code is set as follows:

IF [Apartment] >= 1 AND [Apartment] <= 3 
 THEN "Downstairs" 
ELSEIF [Apartment] > 3 AND [Apartment] <= 6
 THEN "Upstairs" 
ELSE "Unknown"

New terms and important words are shown in bold. Words that you see on the screen, for example, in menus or dialog boxes, appear in the text like this: "Drag and drop the Customer field onto the Rows shelf."


Warnings or important notes appear in a box like this.


Tips and tricks appear like this.

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