Tableau Conference 2015 Keynote Thoughts


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I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Tableau Conference 2015 in Las Vegas along side 10,000 other excited Tableau addicts. I adore Keynote sessions where you are given a glimpse of what is to come and at the Tableau the Developers on Stage Keynote was fantastic. Here is my summary of the exciting things coming our way over the next 12 months.

Data

  • Improved Data interpreter for Excel – Tableau have improved their ability to read, understand and absorb data from Excel Data Sources. Removing blank lines, identifying multiple tables will save us from manually preparing Excel spreadsheets before importing. This feature is not too exciting for me as we rarely deal with spreadsheets and pull most of our data from our Enterprise Data Warehouse.
  • Date Formats Recognition – Playing around with Data has always been an annoyance for me.  Tableau has introduced a new intelligent Date features which allows you to more easily control and manage dates. I am sure I am not the only one who has converted a date to a string, extracted specific parts, merged these parts and then created a new Date object.
  • Union Features – Finally Tableau will now enable Unions in Query Builder. At the moment we use Custom SQL when we use Unions but it would make things a lot easier for our end users to have a visual way to do this.
  • Cross Database Joins – This one made me very happy although I am very pessimistic about it. Instead of having two Data Sources and Blending we will be able to write SQL statements that go across two Databases. This could be especially powerful when providing Published Data Sources. A lifetime ago I was an SAP Business Objects architect and we explored the use of federated (Cross Database) queries only to find the performance exponentially degrading when dealing with high volume data sources. This was because you lost the ability to optimize your query.

Visualisation

  • Table Totals Control – We will now have more control over how Table Totals are displayed and we will also have the ability to exclude them from Color or Size marks. All I can say is finally.
  • Data Highlighter – As well as Quick Filters for limiting data we will also have search highlighters. This feature will allow us to see find our data values but keep all other data points visible. I can see this working very well alongside quick filters as you will use filters to initially limit the field of view and then Search to highlight how a data point compares to the rest.
  • More Maps Postcode – Data will be provided for 70 more countries. As an ever expanding global business this is very useful and will reduce our needs to go to www.tableaumapping.bi.
  • Maps Define Custom Territories – Allows us to create custom areas on the fly. For us this is going to be a massive winner as we can easily define our Sales and Operations regions.
  • Maps Import Custom Shape Files – Finally. I have had to download so many different tools as well as writing my own scripts to flatten and parse geo files. This would definitely make my life easier and allow end users to import whatever maps they wish.
  • MapBox Integration Support – Until I saw this at the Keynote I have not heard of MapBox before. After exploring them I can see how they add a lot of value to what we are doing. Imagine being able to advise a Restaurant on peak delivery times and to be able to use a traffic map. behind our Data visualisations.
  • Viz within viz – Absolutely AMAZING. I think this will fundamentally change how Dashboards are built. Tooltips can now include Worksheets which means we can streamline our dashboards and remove all clutter.

Analytics

  • Automation for Outlier Detection – This allows us to include measures and dimensions and have Tableau automatically highlight Outliers. We are currently using R for this and although this is a nice feature, like forecasting I wonder if we would have enough control to make the feature useful.
  • Automatic Clustering (kmean) – Similar to the point above. I wonder if this would be rich enough for us to replace our usage of R.
  • Improved Reference Band Functionality – Improves the reference band functionality to make them more usable and customisable.

Self Service BI

  • User Home page – The users first point of contact on Tableau Server and will display most recently accessed dashboards as well as favourites. We were in the process of building a custom homepage to serve this very purpose.
  • Workbook Usage Visualisation – A very useful feature. We have over a thousand Dashboards within our Tableau installation and this will provide an additional insight for users when searching for Dashboards.
  • Visual Aspect to Searching – When searching you can see a snapshot of the Dashboard so you can pick the most appropriate Dashboard to use. This is a nice feature but I wonder how much of the Dashboard you would be able to see or make out.
  • Integrated Version Control – Finally we will be able to have version control of Dashboards that are stored on Tableau Server. You can browse and restore previous versions of Dashboards. This is a very nice feature although if the underlying Data Source has change I doubt that the dashboard will be restored correctly. It would be nice to have versioning on the Published Data Source Definitions as well.
  • Revamped Permissions and Controls. – I have had a chance to see this in action with Tableau 9.2 Beta 3. I have to admit that I really like this new feature and it will enable administrators to have a clearer view of permissions.
  • New Server Management Portal – I cannot wait for this as it will allow us to manage our servers without the need to remote onto a machine. This will also allow us to start up additional processes without having to restart the Tableau Server.

Dashboards

  • Dashboard Authoring Improvements – Improvements to Web Authoring which will give a better experience to our users. I have seen the new look interface with Tableau 9.2 Beta 3 and it is pretty good.
  • Quick Filter Across Data Source – This allows us to apply quick filter across multiple data sources. Currently we have been using parameters to perform this task but parameters are not dynamic. This will be very useful for all users.
  • Device Previews – I used to work for Salesforce Marketing cloud and user experience is key. I see no reason why Dashboard are any different and this feature will allow developers to layout dashboards different on different devices.

Mobile

  • Improved Mobile Editor for Tablets – Improved editor for Tableau on Tablet devices. I personally do not see end users editing Dashboards on this device. I think that the better use case would be to access Dashboards, select a chart, and then explore Data in Vizable.
  • Mobile for Phones – FINALLY. Tableau is now available for phones. This could be very useful and will increase adoption of Tableau. Now we just need Tableau for Android.
  • Geolocation Based Dashboards. Now this could be very cool. For our Sales and Field Consultants we limited Data based on geolocation.

Vizable Launch

A Free (seeding) Product by Tableau for iPads and allows you to slice and dice data. This product was formally project elastic and was released at the Keynote. I would love to have an Export to Vizable function within Tableau for the iPad.

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Toan Hoang

About Toan Hoang

Toan Hoang is a technology enthusiast with a broad understanding and appreciation of most aspects of technology but with a passion for Business Intelligence Solutions and Technologies, Data Management and Web Programming.

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