1. Introduction: Visual Analytics with Tableau
In this chapter, you will learn about Visual Analytics and why it is important to visualize your data. You will connect to data using Tableau Desktop and familiarize yourself with the Tableau workspace. By the end of this chapter, you will be well acquainted with the Tableau interface and some of the fundamental important concepts that will help you get started with Tableau. The topics that are covered in this chapter will mark the start of your Tableau journey.
At a very broad level, the whole data analytics process can be broken down into the following steps: data preparation, data exploration, data analysis, and distribution. This process typically starts with a question or a goal, which is followed by finding and getting the relevant data. Once the relevant data is available, you then need to prepare this data for your exploration and analysis stage. You might have to clean and restructure the data to get it in the right form, maybe combine it with some additional datasets, or enhance the data by creating some calculations. This stage is referred to as the data preparation stage. After this comes the data exploration stage. It is at this stage that you try to see the composition and distribution of your data, compare data, and identify relationships if any exist. This step gives an idea of what kind of analysis can be done with the given dataset.
Typically, people like to explore the data by looking at it in its raw form...
The Importance of Visual Analytics
As mentioned earlier, "Visual Analytics" can be defined as the process of exploring and analyzing data by visualizing it as charts and graphs. This enables end users to quickly consume the information and, in turn, empowers them to make quicker and better decisions.
In this section, you will learn why data visualization is a better tool for evaluation than looking at large volumes of data in numeric format.
All of us have at some point heard the expression "A picture is worth a thousand words." Indeed, it has been found that humans are great at identifying and recognizing patterns and trends in data when consumed as visuals as opposed to large volumes of data in tabular or spreadsheet formats.
To understand the importance and the power of data visualization/visual analytics, let's look at one of the classic examples: Anscombe's Quartet. Anscombe's quartet is comprised of four distinct datasets with nearly...
The Tableau Product Suite
There are a lot of tools available on the market offering various features and functionalities that you can use to visualize your data. When it comes to business analytics and data visualization, Tableau is one of the leading tools in this space because of its ease of use and drag and drop functionality, which makes it easier even for a business user to start making sense of their data. Tableau has different tools for different purposes, available in the Tableau product suite, which we'll explore in this section.
The entire suite can be divided into three parts: data preparation, data visualization, and consumption or distribution. Refer to the following figure:
As shown in the preceding figure, you have Tableau Prep in the Data Preparation layer, which is used for cleaning, combining, reshaping, and enhancing your data. This tool helps get your data ready for...
Introduction to Tableau Desktop
Now, that you have identified and chosen Tableau Desktop for the creation of your visuals and dashboards, let's dive deeper into the product, its interface, and its functionality. So, once you have downloaded and installed the product, you will be able to use the products to connect to your data and start building your visualizations.
The landing page of Tableau Desktop is shown in the following screenshot:
Review the following list for explanations of the highlighted sections in the screenshot:
- Connect: The list of data sources you can connect to. You can connect to data residing on Tableau Server (the
Search for Dataoption); to flat files, such as Excel and CSVs (the
To a Fileoption); or to databases (the
To a Serveroption). Tableau has native in-built connectors for a lot of the data sources, which makes the interaction with data from...
Data Visualization Using Tableau Desktop
In an earlier section, you familiarized yourself with the workspace of Tableau and learned how to create a visualization using the manual drag and drop method as well as the automated
Show Me button. During the course of this book and across various chapters, you will get into more details of this workspace and learn about some more of the options available in the toolbar as well as the other shelves.
Now that you have some fundamental knowledge of how to create a visualization using the aforementioned methods, you will now explore some concepts of data visualization and how to use these in Tableau Desktop.
Ideally, when you present your analysis and insights, you want your end user to be able to quickly consume the information that you have presented and make better decisions more quickly. One way to achieve this objective is to present the information in the right format. Each chart, graph, or visualization has a specific purpose, and...
Saving and Sharing Your Work
Another important point to discuss when working with Tableau is how to save your files and share them with others. As you know, Tableau is an interactive tool that allows users to filter, drill down, and slice and dice data using the features that are provided within the tool. Now, when it comes to saving and sharing your work with others, some people may want their end users to have the flexibility to play with the report and use the interactivity that is provided, while others may simply want end users to have a static snapshot of information that doesn't provide any sort of interactivity. Further, some may want to share the entire dashboard with their end users, while others may only want to share a single visualization.
All these scenarios can be handled in Tableau. The following list will go through these options in detail, breaking them into two parts: static snapshots and interactivity versions:
Static snapshots: The following is...
In this chapter, you learned the definition and importance of visual analytics and data visualization. You were presented with several points for evaluation when choosing a data visualization tool and explored Tableau's product suite. Having identified Tableau Desktop as the best choice of platform for analyzing and visualizing your data, you looked at how to utilize it to connect to data and familiarized yourself with the Tableau Desktop workspace. You also considered various scenarios for data visualization and identified which charts to use for the given task and learned how to save and share your work with others.
In the next chapter, you will see how to build the various charts that you identified earlier. You will also learn how to prepare your data for analysis using Tableau Prep as well as Tableau Desktop.