Being the Tableau Expert in my current and previous roles I have provided Tableau training for hundreds of users; this includes understanding how data works, how to design dashboards, which visualisations to use under which scenario.
While the discussions around what is considered best practice is always fun the technical training does end up being a time consuming and repetitive; therefore I wrote a series of training sheet for all our Tableau Desktop Users to go through.
This article is a series of exercises that you follow to discover some of the features of Tableau and is designed to help get the up and running as fast as possible. These exercises are all built using the Tableau Sample Data Source.
NOTE: This is valid as of Tableau Desktop and Server 9.2, if you do not have Server you can always do the same exercises with the Sample Data Sources provided.
Exercise 1: Connecting to Tableau Server
- Open Tableau Desktop
- In the Menu click on Server → Sign In…
- In the prompt enter the following details:
- Server: <Insert your Tableau Server Here>
- Username: <Enter Your User Name>
- Password: <Enter Your Password>
- If you have access to more than one site you will see a dialogue box – if you have choices please choose Training
While you can use Tableau as a standalone tool to access flat files and spreadsheets the Tableau Server provides:
- A Web Portal – which will allow you to develop the Dashboards and enable others to see and interact with it
- Published Data Sources – which are IT managed Data Sources
- Enterprise Services – including access security, scheduling and high availability
Within the Tableau Server we have Sites which act as isolated hubs. As such a single server can have sites for Marketing, Finance, Operations and be completely isolated from each other. As a user you can belong to multiple sites.
Exercise 2: Connecting to a Data Source
With Tableau Desktop Open we will select our first Data Source.
- In the home screen you should see a of available Data Sources to the right. Click on Tableau Server.
- Select the EU Superstore Data Source.
- Click Update Now to see a sample of data within this Data Source.
- Have a look at what data is available.
- Click on Sheet 1 which is highlighted in Orange.
Tableau Published Data Sources can either be a Live Connection or a Extract. Live connections means that when you access the Data Source Tableau will query the data directly. However, this means that you may experience a slow experience. An Extract is refreshed on a periodic basis and stored on the Tableau Server in a highly compressed and rapidly accessible format.
Exercise 3: Building your first Worksheet
A Worksheet represents a single visualisation which can than be combined to form a comprehensive Dashboard. Dashboards and Worksheets can be combined with a narrative using Stories. All of these are saved in as a Workbook. With Tableau Desktop open and the EU Superstore Data Source selected:
- Under Dimensions click and drag Order Date into Columns.
- This will display Order Date (By Year).
- Under Dimensions click and drag Country into Rows.
- This will display a list of Countries.
- Under Measures click on Sales and drag onto the Text Button within the Marks Panel
- You will now see Sales by Country and by Year.
- Save the Tableau Workbook.
Congratulations! You have now Logged into Tableau, Connected to a Tableau Data Source, Built a Worksheet and Saved this for future use.
Exercise 4: Exploring Different Marks
Lets start by opening the Workbook saved in Exercise 3. Looking at this we have selected our dimensions put this into the columns and rows. We then decided to Mark our data by displaying the Sum(Sales) measure as text. Let us try a different type of mark.
- Drag Sales into the Color Mark.
- The colour of the Mark will change based on SUM(Sales).
- Change the Mark Type in the selector box to from Automatic to Text.
- Drag Sales onto Size.
- The size of the Text Marks will change based on SUM(Sales).
- Drag Profit, Profit Ratio and Quantity into the Tooltip.
- Hover over any of the items to see that Profit, Profit Ratio and Quantity now appear.
- Save the Workbook.
You should now be looking at a Data Visualisation where you can immediately see which Year and Country have the highest Sales. Tableau is not just about displaying data but producing rapid insights.
France 2014 has the highest Sales based on Order Date
Exercise 5: Extra Credit
- Click on the Colour Button in the Marks Panel and explore the various options.
- Click on Tooltip in the Marks Panel and modify the Tooltip Text.
- Click on the Size Button in the Marks Panel and explore the various options.
- Change the Marks Type and see what results you have.
- Right Click on the any item in the Tableau Canvas and select Format. Explore options.
- Right Click on the Year and explore Sorting options.
Exercise 6: Filtering
Filtering your data is essential to ensure you only see the information you require as well as easing the burden on the source systems. There is no valid reason to query the entire database when you only want values for the current week. Let us explore how you can filter data within Tableau.
- Open the Workbook that you saved in Exercise 4.
- In the Main Menu click on Worksheet → New Worksheet.
- At the bottom you should be able to see that a new sheet has been created for you – Sheet 2.
- Double Click on the tab (or right click) to change the name of the Worksheets:
- Sheet 1 → Total Sales Value by Year and Country.
- Sheet 2 → Product Sales by Month.
- In Product Sales by Month Worksheet drag
- Order Date into the Columns
- Product into Rows.
- Sales into the Text Mark.
- Right Click the YEAR(Order Date) in the columns and select Month
- Notice that month appears two times in the menu.
- Tableau allows you to either choose to display the actual values (Green) or the date parts (Blue). Try both options and check out the differences in results.
- In this exercise choose the date part option.
- Click and Drag the Order Date into the Filters Panel.
- In the prompt box select the Years (it will be blue for discrete).
- Select 2014 and click Ok.
- Save your Workbook
NOTE: We have some pretty large Data Sources within JUST EAT. Some of these sources have upwards of 500 million records. For performance reasons please always filter the data to get the minimum required Data Set.
Exercise 7: Quick Filters
You can always change your filter value by Right Clicking the item in the Filter Panel but we would like to make our Worksheets more dynamic.
- Open the Workbook Saved in Exercise 6.
- In the Product Sales by Month drag Country to the Filter Panel.
- When prompted select on Use all and click Ok.
- In the Filters Panel, right click on YEAR(Order Date) and select Show Quick Filter.
- Do the Same for Country.
- In the Country Quick Filter, hover around the top right of this box and click on the Down Caret and select Single Value (Dropdown).
- In the Country Quick Filter, hover around the top right of this box and click on the Down Caret, go down to Customise and uncheck the Show “All” Values.
- Explore the various options for the YEAR(Order Date) Quick Filter.
- Save your Workbook.
NOTE: Filtering your Dashboard to get a minimum valuable Data Set is great for performance reasons. Creating Quick Filters is essential for creating multi-purpose Dashboards.
- Right Click on the YEAR(Order Date) in the Filters box and select Filter and Explore the use of Relative Date.
- Remove and re-add the Order Date to the Filter. This time select Relative date and explore options.
- On the Category Pill in Rows click on the Plus Sign to drill down.
- Explore Drill Down for the Order Date Pill in Columns.
Exercise 8: Duplicating and Reusing Worksheets
Copy and Paste is one of the biggest time savers you can image. So let us do the same for Tableau.
- Open the Workbook you saved in Exercise 7.
- Right Click on the Product Sales by Month and select Duplicate
- Rename this new worksheet to Average Product Sales by Month.
- In this new Worksheet right click the SUM(Sales) in the Marks Panel and change the aggregation type from Sum to Average.
At this point we have explored the basics of Tableau. To recap you should now be able to:
- Log in Tableau
- Connect to a Data Source
- Use Items in the Data Source to:
- Show a Value
- Highlight by Colour
- Highlight by Size
- Add a Tooltip
- Selecting Different Measure Types
- Drill Down on Values
- Use Filters
- Use Quick Filters
- Duplicate Worksheets
- Save a Tableau Workbook
Our final section of the Day will be a D.I.Y Section where I would like you to build the following Dashboards.
D.I.Y Exercise 1:
Create the following:
This will show the Total Sales per Country for January and highlight the values in Green which are greater than £10,000.
D.I.Y Exercise 2:
Create the following:
D.I.Y Exercise 3:
Now that you have explored enough of Tableau. You are finally ready to click on the Show Me button on the Top Right. You will have a total of 24 Visualisation to choose from. Now use what you know and explore Building Tableau Data Visualisations.
Part 2 will be coming out next week but I hope you enjoyed the read and find this useful in your Tableau Journey.