Tableau Power Start Workshop

Chart showing the increase of available data has gone beyond our ability to understand data available

Why Tableau? (click to expand)
Whether we are ready or not, we are in a period in human history where the volume, variety and velocity of data have far outpaced our innate abilities to make sense of this data. This is where Tableau can help.

Learning Tableau will not only help you increase your value in the job market and have a greater professional impact, it will also help make you a better citizen of the world.

This Tableau Power Start Workshop is meant to help you get started in asking better questions of your data.

How To Download Your Free License of Tableau And Get Started (click to expand)

Step 1. Downloading and Installing A Tableau Desktop Academic License (requires an .edu email)

If you have a .edu email address, download and install the free 1-year academic license for Tableau, by completing the process here

Step 2. Register With Tableau Public (and option for a free, limited, non-academic Tableau Desktop license)

Tableau Public is a platform that allows you to share your visualizations with others (e.g., your professors, colleagues and me). I encourage you to sign up for it now by going to to sign up for a Tableau Public account. Click “Sign In” in the upper right and create an account.

Note, while registering for Tableau Public, you will be offered the chance to download a Tableau Public Desktop license. If you do not qualify for a Tableau Academic License, go ahead and download this version which offers sufficient capabilities to fully participate in this workshop. If you were able to download the full-featured license in Step 1, above, you do not want this version. You want to use the version you already have downloaded.

Step 3. Start Learning

Once you have installed Tableau, follow along with the Tableau Starter Kit here to begin your journey.

Note: As of May 2021, Tableau also offers free access to the Tableau E-Learning platform for one year to academic license holders. This is a fantastic resource; be on the lookout for an email from Tableau with credentials for this platform after you register!

In addition to the videos and resources highlighted in the Tableau Starter Kit, Tableau offers free instructor-led interactive web seminars to take you to the next level. See here

The resource pages for Tableau Public, here, offer an additional learning path and provide links to many datasets you can use to learn Tableau.

Step 4. Datasets to Practice With

Every week, the good folks at Make Over Monday publish a new dataset to practice your data chops with. Up to 500 data enthusiasts then work on creating visualizations based on the dataset and share them via Twitter. At the end of the week, a moderator will highlight lessons to be learned and spotlight a few of the best submissions.

Below is a sample of some of the datasets and the comments offered.

Topic Download Dataset Original Article Best Vizs
Employment Growth in G7 Countries XLS Article Makeovers
Factors people report lead to success XLS Article Makeovers
Job demand for data skills XLS Article Makeovers
Alcohol consumption trends in Briton XLS Article Makeovers
American national park visits XLS Article Makeovers

I invite you to try your hand with a few of these. If you want feedback, please upload your work to Tableau Public (instructions here at the bottom of the page) and send the URL to me (paul (at) vizalyst dot com).

Tableau Resources (click to expand)

  • Learning Resources for Students
  • Guides to Different Types of Charts
  • Community/Learning Resources (Tableau is not just a great product; it is a great community!)
    • Makeover Monday – My top recommendation for learning Tableau! Each Sunday a new dataset is released, and hundreds of people build and share visualizations using this dataset over the week. On Mondays, one of the coordinators gives an hour + YouTube streaming session analyzing the week’s dataset in Tableau (here is a great example focused on comparing two quantities). On Wednesdays, an hour-long “viz review” session is held examining some of the visualizations that were made. On Friday, the coordinators pick their Top 5 favorite visualizations for the week. On Sundays, it begins all over again. Most of this is done over Twitter (#MakeoverMonday, @VizWizBI, @TriMyData).
    • Best of the Tableau Web – Nowadays, it seems everyone is a blogger. To get introduced to the wide world of Tableau Blogs, go here, pull down the Category filter and choose Community.
    • DC Tableau User Group – monthly meetings; network and find a job
  • Where to Find Data to Analyze
    • Tableau’s Post on Finding Data – Gives a nice overview on how to get started on finding and cleaning data.  Good resource list at the end.
    • Data.Gov – This is a website of pointers to U.S. Government data. In my opinion, it is a little lame. Some of the pointers lead to nonexistent or poorly-formatted data.  The site has very lofty goals even if it does not fully meet them.  Nevertheless, it is an important first stop for anyone seeking data about a specific topic.
    • – – A popular data sharing site.  Some datasets are well suited for Tableau analysis; others are better suited to different tools/techniques (e.g., machine learning, sentiment analysis, network analysis, etc.).  I like this site because it gives a “usability” rating for each dataset and has better search capabilities than other sites (I’m looking at you, Data.World).
    • Data.World – Another popular data sharing site.  Content is posted by users and has varying levels of coverage and quality. 
    • Data is Plural – This is a highly addictive weekly email providing links to a wide-ranging and idiosyncratic list of datasets. A spreadsheet of past datasets listed can be found here.  Take a second and look at the different types of datasets that are out there in the wild (start at the bottom for most recent)!
    • ACLED – International Public Policy students, take note of this! Curated dataset on Armed Conflict Locations and Events. For even more international public policy datasets, see those listed on the bottom of this page
  • Tableau Sponsored Learning

Workshop Week 1

  1. Welcome to the workshop. In Week 1 we will start with an overview of Tableau and learn how to do some basic chart types. Mostly we will be following the Week 1 Workbook linked to below. You might want to have it available for reference, but mostly you will be following along with the instructor. For sure, you will want to download and have available the Week 1 Dataset on your computer.
  2. More on pie charts (do they really “subtract from knowledge in the world?”)
  3. Assignment: Download this Makeover Monday dataset and create 1) your choice of visualization and 2) Likert bars showing results. Upload visualizations to your Tableau Public Account.
    (Google “Likert Chart Tableau,” Good Post, Good Video, Another Good Video)
    (Original Visualization, Makeovers, Top 5, Viz Review Webinar)

Workshop Week 2

  1. This week we are going to primarily use a dataset that ships with Tableau (the World Indicators dataset under the Welcome Page’s “Saved Data Sources” header on the left). We will begin by building on the basic chart types we learned in Week 1 and then extend. Our focus will include:
    • Mapping
    • Data Table analysis
    • Filters (static and interactive)
    • Calculations
    • Grouping
  2. Assignment: Let’s look at the Makeover Monday 2/8/21 challenge dataset here. To get inspired, here is an hour-long YouTube Stream working with this data and here is the VizReview session of submissions for the week.
  3. Optional: Itching to grow your Tableau muscles a bit more? Try your hand with this dataset while following this workshop workbook.

Workshop Week 3

  1. This week we will continue to build on the chart types and techniques learned in the first two weeks. Additional topics to be covered include:
    • Messy Data (data cleaning and pivoting)
    • Building and sharing dashboards (for best results, make sure you have a Tableau Public account in order to publish your dashboard)
    • Story Points
    • A brief look at Tableau Prep (included with your Tableau Academic License)
    • Best practices for keeping a project notebook and file naming conventions.
  2. Possible datasets that we might use this week include:
  3. One of the biggest challenges in learning Tableau is actually not learning how to make a particular chart in Tableau (lots of great instructional blog posts are merely a Google away). The big challenge is knowing the common name of the type of chart you want to create. To help with this challenge, we will look at two great resources: The Tableau Chart Catalog and The Tableau Financial Times Chart Catalog.
  4. Call to Action: Join the Tableau Community and continue your journey using the resources listed above!