Welcome to Vizalyst – START HERE

Why Tableau?

We have entered a period in human history where the increase in data has far outpaced our ability to understand what the data means.  This is a fundamental challenge to all who seek to drive change in their work.  What is demanded by this data tsunami is much greater “data literacy” by citizens and information workers.

Learning a tool like Tableau will not only help you drive more change, it is a sure way to increase your value to the job market.  Tableau is an increasingly sought after skill by employers.

This Tableau Introduction is meant to help you get started asking better questions from your data and to start better sharing the answers you find.

Step 1. Downloading and installing Tableau

If you have an .edu email address and want to learn Tableau as a student, you are in luck.  Tableau offers a free one-year license to Tableau Desktop  that can be obtained by going to https://www.tableau.com/academic/students.

Step 2. Register With Tableau Public

After you’ve completed Step 1, go to https://public.tableau.com/s/ to sign up for a Tableau Public account.  Click “Sign In” in the upper right and create an account.  This account will allow you to share the visualizations you create over the web and allow me and your classmates to view your work.

Note, do not proceed to Step 2 until you’ve downloaded the software in Step 1.  The Tableau Public registration process prompts you to download a free, limited version, of Tableau Desktop software.  You do not want this version, you want the version found in Step 1.

Step 3. Start Learning

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

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 data sets you can use to learn Tableau.

If you are coming to Tableau with a strong background in Excel, I highly recommend these two videos here and here to help with the transition.  Heavy Excel users coming to Tableau often make the mistake of trying to repeat the way that Excel works in Tableau.  Tableau offers a much different way of interacting with data than Excel.  Rather than recreate the way you approach data in Excel inside Tableau, focus on the questions you want to ask and learn to use Tableau the way it was designed to be used.

Step 4. Datasets to Practice With

Every week, the good folks at Make Over Monday publish a new data set to practice your data chops with.  Up to a hundred data enthusiasts will 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 data sets 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 bottom of page) and send the URL to paul (at) vizalyst dot com.

Step 5: Online resources

Tableau Viz of the Day: Every day, Tableau publishes a viz of the day from user submissions to Tableau Public.  To continue your data literacy journey, please subscribe here for free.

Presenting your Findings: This is a fantastic talk from Professor Simon Peyton Jones on how to write a great research paper.  This is a great foundational resource for thinking about data storytelling and can be found here.

See the General Resources listed under the Power Start Workshop postings for more suggestions!

Power Start Workshop 2021 Materials

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)

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

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 Lines
    • 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 figuring out how to use Tableau to make a chart, but what the names for the different chart types. 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 below!

 General Resources: