Getting Started with Tableau 2019.2 - Second Edition

By Tristan Guillevin
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    1. Catching Up with Tableau 2019

About this book

Tableau is one of the leading data visualization tools and is regularly updated with new functionalities and features. The latest release, Tableau 2019.2, promises new and advanced features related to visual analytics, reporting, dashboarding, and a host of other data visualization aspects. Getting Started with Tableau 2019.2 will get you up to speed with these additional functionalities.

The book starts by highlighting the new functionalities of Tableau 2019.2, providing concrete examples of how to use them. However, if you're new to Tableau, you won't have to worry as the book also covers the major aspects of Tableau with relevant examples. You'll learn how to connect to data, build a data source, visualize your data, build a dashboard, and even share data online. In the concluding chapters, you'll delve into advanced techniques such as creating a cross-database join and data blending.

By the end of this book, you will be able to use Tableau effectively to create quick, cost-effective, and business-efficient Business Intelligence (BI) solutions.

Publication date:
June 2019


Thank you for purchasing Getting Started with Tableau 2019.2. As its title suggests, this book aims to provide you with explanations, advice, tips, and the best practices to start (or continue) your journey through Tableau using the most recent features. You'll always find clear descriptions, reproducible examples, and tutorials. Whether you already know how to use Tableau and want to get familiar with its latest features, or you've never used the tool and want to learn from the beginning, this book is for you, and I hope you enjoy it.

If you are a Tableau user looking for information about its new features and how to use them, you are in the right place. If you are new to Tableau, start with Chapter 2, The Tableau Core, to learn about the basics and advanced features of Tableau. Throughout this book, many new features will be explained. Having finished all of the chapters, you can come back here to learn about the newest features in detail.

In this first chapter, we'll cover the new features in Tableau's 2019 releases (2019.1 and 2019.2). This chapter will be divided into two parts, as follows:

  • Connector improvements
  • Worksheet enhancement
  • New actions
  • Empowered Dashboard
  • Tableau Server

For each part, each major feature has its own section. Next to the name of the feature, between brackets, the version that introduced the new feature will be specified.

Let's start with Tableau Desktop; get ready to discover many great new features!

To understand and reproduce the examples provided in this chapter, you need to know how to connect to data, build a data source, and create Worksheets and Dashboards.


Mapping is the star of the newest Tableau version. We'll cover the new MakePoint and MakeLine functions, as well as the new vector map. These two new features will allow you to enjoy building maps even more than before.

Since Tableau 10.2, you have been able to connect to a spatial file to create maps using the Geometry field (a Point, a Line, or a Polygon). Each new release brought new capabilities, such as using a spatial field directly from a database or the recent spatial join: Intersect. Tableau Desktop 2019.2 brings two new functionalities: MakePoint and MakeLine.

MakePoint and MakeLine are two new functions. MakePoint converts Latitude and Longitude into a spatial point. MakeLine takes two Points and creates a spatial Line. This allows you to create a path between two places on Earth by taking into account the curvature of the earth and joining spatial and nonspatial files with Latitude and Longitude.

Let's visualize the top 100 busiest air routes.

This file contains one hundred lines and provides information on the departure and arrival to airports, as well as the number of passengers.

Let's start:

  1. Open Tableau Desktop and select Microsoft Excel.
  2. Connect to the Flights.xlsx file you've just downloaded.
  3. On Sheet1, create a new calculated field. Name it Departure Point and write the following formula: MAKEPOINT([Departure Latitude],[Departure Longitude]).
  4. Create a second calculated field for the arrivals. Name it Arrival Point and write the following formula: MAKEPOINT([Arrival Latitude],[Arrival Longitude]).
  5. You have created two calculated fields that contain spatial points that are mapping the departure and arrival airports. You can test your fields by simply double-clicking on them.
  6. Create a final calculated field for the routes. Name it Air Routes and write the following formula: MAKELINE([Departure Point],[Arrival Point]).
  7. On a blank Worksheet, double-click on Air Routes; this will automatically generate all the paths on a map.
  8. To finalize the visualization, add the Route Dimension in Detail to separate each path, and add the Passengers Measure in Size and Color to visually spot the busiest routes. The following screenshot shows the final results:
    MakePoint and MakeLine (2019.2)

If, like me, you aren't new to Tableau, you will be impressed by how fast and easy it is to achieve this now. That's what we love about each new Tableau release: it always makes our analysis faster and easier to do.

As I said, mapping is the star, so let's continue with this new mapping style.


Tableau's power resides in the ability to build simple and powerful visualizations and dashboards in minutes, but also to create interactivity with only a few clicks thanks to Actions. Tableau 2018.3 already introduced two new actions: Go To Sheet and Change Set Values. Tableau 2019.1 and 2019.2 continue to improve on these actions with a great enhancement for Go to URL actions and a revolutionary way of working with parameters: Change Parameter.

The Change Parameter... is the newest action to be introduced in Tableau 2019.2. It allows you to change the value of a Parameter based on the value on a Worksheet. It was already possible to achieve this thanks to Extensions, but now Tableau has made it official!

Previously, modifying the value of a Parameter was only possible using the Parameter Control card. Now, you can use any action triggers (Hover, Select, or Menu) to modify the current value of a Parameter. As for the highlight action, the value you want to pass to the Parameter has to be in the View.

Let's create an example together. We want to compare the sales value of a state to a parameter and see if the sales are above or below the Parameter's value. The value of the Parameter will be automatically set when you hover over a state, allowing you to easily compare a state with others. For this example, you can use the Sample – Superstore saved data source. Perform the following steps:

This new action will unlock many new opportunities so that you can create awesome interactions for your users. I can't wait to see what the Tableau Community will create!

Let's continue with all the new features of the Dashboard.


Building Dashboards is definitely one of the most important aspects of using Tableau Desktop. Fortunately, building a simple Dashboard is also something very easy and enjoyable to do. In the process of always making our life easier, Tableau has developed a few very nice new features.

The first important new feature is the ability to show or hide a container with a totally new button.

If you are not new to Tableau, I'm sure you've already made (or had to make) a Dashboard with lots of filters and legends. You know, something that looks like this:

Show/Hide containers (2019.2)

Rejoice, because this is over! You can now add a toggle button to containers, allowing you and your user to show or hide it at will. There's only one condition at the moment, which is that the container needs to be floating.

Adding a toggle button is quite easy: select the containers (with the Select Container option when you click on an item, or use the Item hierarchy in the Layout pane), then select Add toggle button from the container options. A default toggle button is automatically added to your Dashboard. Among the button options, you'll find the ability to Show or Hide the container and edit it with the Edit Button… option.

If you click on Edit Button… a new window will open. Here, you can choose what Dashboard element will be impacted by the button, the Button Style (image or text), and the Button Appearance. The Button Appearance part lets you choose the Image (or Title and Font), Border, Background, and Tooltip when the item is currently shown or hidden.

Let's create an example together. We will use this new feature to enhance the example that was provided at the beginning of this section.

Unzip the file and you'll find a Tableau Packaged Workbook that is the start of the example:

  1. Open the ToggleButtonStart.twbx workbook.
  2. Select the filters and legend container, either by double-clicking on the grip part or using the Select Containers option of the items, or by using the Item hierarchy in the Layout pane. You should see the entire horizontal container with a blue outline, like this:
    Show/Hide containers (2019.2)
  3. Go to the option using the descending arrow and select Floating.
  4. Using the grip part, move the containers at the top left. Then, by selecting the left border, increase its width, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Show/Hide containers (2019.2)
  5. Click on the arrow to option the container options and select Add Show/Hide button.
  6. You can now use this button to show and hide the container with the filters and legends. To finalize the Dashboard, you can move the button next to the title, increase its size, and add a tooltip among the button options. Here's the final result:
Show/Hide containers (2019.2)

This new feature allows everyone to build clearer and more efficient Dashboards. The next feature is really simple to understand and use, but will definitely help you save a lot of time.


Ask Data is the first view that opens when you click on a data source. It's a new tool to query any data sources using the English language. With this new feature, Tableau Server becomes more and more easy to use for everyone. But how does it work, exactly?

On the left, you'll find something similar to the Data pane in Tableau Desktop, and in the middle, a simple search bar with some suggestions. The following is an example of Ask Data when using the Sample – Superstore data source:

Ask Data (2019.1)

All you have to do is ask. Write something in the search bar and a new browser tab will automatically open with the result of what you asked for. For example, if you write sum of profit by state, Ask Data automatically creates a map with the sales in color:

Ask Data (2019.1)

Without any knowledge of how to use Tableau to create a visualization, Ask Data was able to convert some text into a visualization.

On the Data pane on the left, when you hover over a field, a nice tooltip gives you some quick insights about the number of values, their distribution, and even the formula (if it's a calculated field). But wait—there's more! If you click on the small arrow next to a field, you can use the Edit synonyms option. When you add a synonym to a field, you are able to use that synonym in your sentence to create the visualization.

On the top, you can see that the search bar has expanded and suggested that you can adjust the question or use the Clear All button to start over. Here are some examples of what you can add:

If you are satisfied with the visualization but you want to quickly change a Measure or Dimension, you can click on different fields in the query box to open a menu that allows you to choose a different field and its aggregation. For example, if you click on sum of Profit, you can quickly change it to display the discount instead, as you can see in the following screenshot:

Ask Data (2019.1)

Of course, Ask Data doesn't have the flexibility of Tableau Desktop, and you don't have much control over what the result will be. However, it can easily supply a feature users have long demanded: Can you just build a big table where I can search what I want?. With Ask Data, you don't need that anymore.

Next, we'll look at a nice evolution for the alerts.


We are in the middle of the year, and with only two new releases, Tableau has already considerably improved its products.

Your Tableau life is now easier than ever before. You can add buttons to show and hide containers, automatically replace a Worksheet in a Dashboard, customize the reference line tooltip, show the sorts control, name your Dashboard zone, control the URL action targets, and sort without having to think twice.

You can also do more than ever. With the new Parameter actions, you will be able to create new types of interactivity between data and users. With the awesome vector maps and new spatial calculations, working with maps has never felt so good.

Ask Data is also a breaking change of Tableau Server for those of you who are already building worksheets and dashboards with Tableau Desktop, but also to all the potential users within your company. They don't need to learn Tableau to build insights. They don't have to understand what a dimension is, nor a measure or how to filter. All they have to do is ask.

2019 is already a great year for Tableau users and the Tableau community. This first chapter, which described its new features, is now over. If you learned how to use Tableau with this book, I hope that this chapter has provided you with a greater desire to use Tableau. If you already know Tableau, I hope this chapter gives you a clear idea and the motivation to use the new versions that are available.. Also, I'm sure this book has more to teach you (and that's surely why you purchased it), so don't hesitate to continue reading: read the tips, try the tutorials, and learn more about Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, and the Tableau community.

About the Author

  • Tristan Guillevin

    Tristan Guillevin is a Business Analyst at Ogury. In 2017, he won the Iron Viz - the ultimate data visualization battle, organized by Tableau every year in Las Vegas. His passion for data visualization and for Tableau has taken him around the world. He enjoys helping people with Tableau by making webinars, conferences, and writing blog articles.

    Browse publications by this author
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