The Tableau Workshop

By Sumit Gupta , Sylvester Pinto , Shweta Sankhe-Savale and 2 more
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    2. Data Preparation: Using Tableau Desktop
About this book

Learning Tableau has never been easier, thanks to this practical introduction to storytelling with data. The Tableau Workshop breaks down the analytical process into five steps: data preparation, data exploration, data analysis, interactivity, and distribution of dashboards. Each stage is addressed with a clear walkthrough of the key tools and techniques you'll need, as well as engaging real-world examples, meaningful data, and practical exercises to give you valuable hands-on experience.

As you work through the book, you'll learn Tableau step by step, studying how to clean, shape, and combine data, as well as how to choose the most suitable charts for any given scenario. You'll load data from various sources and formats, perform data engineering to create new data that delivers deeper insights, and create interactive dashboards that engage end-users.

All concepts are introduced with clear, simple explanations and demonstrated through realistic example scenarios. You'll simulate real-world data science projects with use cases such as traffic violations, urban populations, coffee store sales, and air travel delays.

By the end of this Tableau book, you'll have the skills and knowledge to confidently present analytical results and make data-driven decisions.

Publication date:
April 2022


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:

Figure 1.6: A screenshot showing the Tableau product suite

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:

Figure 1.7: A screenshot of the Tableau Desktop landing page

Review the following list for explanations of the highlighted sections in the screenshot:

  1. Connect: The list of data sources you can connect to. You can connect to data residing on Tableau Server (the Search for Data option); to flat files, such as Excel and CSVs (the To a File option); or to databases (the To a Server option). 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.

About the Authors
  • Sumit Gupta

    Sumit Gupta is an analytics professional with more than 7 years' experience spanning across marketing, sales, and product analytics. As a consultant and trainer, he has utilized Tableau to build better data-driven teams for his organization. Sumit specializes in translating vast amounts of data into easy-to-understand dashboards which provide actionable intelligence. He is a Tableau Certified Associate and enjoys training data enthusiasts to become better Tableau developers and certified Tableau associates. This book is one such effort to reach masses.

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  • Sylvester Pinto

    Sylvester Pinto has been using Tableau for almost a decade now for improving business performance for different industries. Sylvester has designed various business solutions using Tableau for different organizations leading to a huge impact to improve their businesses. He has a Tableau certification and as a consultant designs solutions for various organizations.

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  • Shweta Sankhe-Savale

    Shweta Sankhe-Savale is the Co-founder and Head of Client Engagements at Syvylyze Analytics (pronounced as "civilize"), a boutique business analytics firm specializing in visual analytics. Shweta is a Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate and a Tableau Accredited Trainer. Being one of the leading experts on Tableau in India, Shweta has translated her experience and expertise into successfully rendering analytics and data visualization services for numerous clients across a wide range of industry verticals. She has taken up numerous training as well as consulting assignments for customers across various sectors like BFSI, FMCG, Retail, E-commerce, Consulting & Professional Services, Manufacturing, Healthcare & Pharma, ITeS etc. She even had the privilege of working with some of the renowned Government and UN agencies as well. Combining her ability to breakdown complex concepts, with her expertise on Tableau's visual analytics platforms, Shweta has successfully trained over a 1300+ participants from 85+ companies.

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  • JC Gillet

    Jean-Charles (JC) Gillet is a seasoned business analyst with over 7 years of experience with SQL at both a large-scale multinational company in the United Kingdom and a smaller firm in the United States, and 5 years of Tableau experience. He has been working with Tableau and SQL for multiple years to share his expertise with his colleagues, as well as delivering SQL training. A French national, JC holds a master's degree in executive engineering from Mines ParisTech and is a Tableau Desktop Certified Associate.

    In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter (to whom he dedicates his work on this book) and playing team handball, having competed in national championships.

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  • Kenneth Michael Cherven

    Kenneth Michael Cherven is a Data Analyst and Visualizer based in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He has worked with Tableau for more than 15 years with a focus on making complex data easily understood through the of interactive dashboards and creative displays. Beyond his work in the automotive sector, Kenneth analyzes data and creates visualizations using open data sources from the baseball, government, music, and craft beer domains. Ken has previously published two titles for Packt – Network Graph Analysis and Visualization with Gephi and Mastering Gephi Network Visualization.

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