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What Is Tableau? How To Use Tableau?

What is Tableau?

Tableau has come to rule the world of Business Intelligence due to the robust and fast-paced growth of its data visualization tool. The tool is instrumental in converting raw data into a simple format which can be easily understood. All the visualizations which are created in Tableau are generally as worksheets and dashboards. Also, the data which is created by Tableau is easy to understand for professionals at every level of the organization. Even a non-technical user creates a customized dashboard. It is seen as both a secured and flexible end-to-end platform for data analytics. The best part of the platform is that it scales the whole organization even though it is designed for the individual. It can successfully convert your data into measurable insights which can drive action on your data.

Salient Features Tableau

  • Data Collaboration
  • Real-time analysis
  • Blending of Data

Another major edge it enjoys over its competitors is that it does not need any kind of technical or programming skills for its operations because of which it has invited huge interest from professionals from different sectors like research, business, etc.

Why Tableau?

Data visualization is considered as a vital part of data analysis. It is a skill which has to be mastered by various data scientists for better communication with the end-users. There are many tools which are in use for the same like Excel, Domo, Qlikview, Tableau, etc. Here are some reasons why Tableau is better than the rest:

Read: How to Create & Format Tableau Worksheet?
  • Accurate Visualisations: Tableau has proven that it can connect to many different and larger sources of data as compared to Power BI. Jumping between different visualizations is also easy in Tableau. It helps you to visualize the data from the beginning, thereby allowing you to see its importance correctly. It helps to differentiate between the correlations based on color, labels, size, and shapes.
  • In-depth Discovery: Tableau comes loaded with many features which show the users ways to answer the questions as data visualizations are investigated. Many basic trends like predictions make use of the ‘what if’ queries for hypothetical adjustment of data and visualization of data for comparison.
  • Ease of Implementation: There are many implementations and consulting services. There is a four-step process for implementation at the level of the organization while for small-scale deployments, many quick-start options are also available.
  • Data Source Connectors: Tableau provides access to many hundreds of native connectors for easily pulling, cleansing, and even correlation of data from basically any source without the need to create any custom code. Many large data sets are extracted from different sources for fast and ad-hoc analysis, making use of two methods namely-Live Connection and In-memory. Both can adapt to the local database depending on the size and capacity, thereby help in quick syncing of data by extraction of relevant data to the query.
  • Automation: Tableau is a highly intuitive platform in terms of process creation and calculations. The flexibility also allows the users to create formulas which are not available in most other tools. E.g., if you have to create a calculation in the form of a table, you have to type the formula once and there on it can be stored as a field and applied all across the rows referencing the source.

Products of Tableau

Data analytics in Tableau can be spread across two sections:

  • Developer: The tools of Tableau which are used for development are basically Tableau Desktop and Tableau Public. They help in the creation of dashboards, charts, visualization, and even generation of reports.
  • Sharing: The primary aim of this tool is the sharing of visualizations, reports, and even the dashboards which have been created using the tools of the developer. The products which comprise this category are Tableau Online, Tableau Reader, and even Tableau Server.

Tableau enjoys a premium product suite comprising the following:

1). Tableau Desktop:

It is the place where the action sets in. It is also known as the ‘gold standard’ in visual analytics. The ease of use has helped it integrate into various aspects of business intelligence. It is rich in features as it helps in coding and customization of reports. Some of the major uses of Desktop are as follows:

  • Actionable Insights: The Tableau platform is aimed at working on the natural ability of people to have an eye for visual data patterns quickly and showing opportunities in everyday opportunities and some special moments of discovery. The live analytics in the form of visualizations help stir limitless data exploration. Many latent insights can also be easily uncovered with the help of interactive dashboards.
  • Connection with more Data: Data is connected via a cloud whether in the form of big data, SQL database, or other apps like Google Analytics, etc. All this data can be both accessed and combined without the need for writing any kind of code. The metadata can be optimized for different data sources by accessing, splitting, and managing the same. The analysis actually starts with data.
  • Answering Deeper Questions: Many insights or deeper questions can be addressed by using a pretty dashboard. The desktop can be used to create strong calculations from the already existing data, reference lines which can be both dragged and dropped along with various forecasts. Also, many statistical summaries can be reviewed. Further, you can make strong and valid arguments with tools like regressions, correlations, trend analysis, etc. for true statistical understanding. Looking at the data, you are in a better position to ask more questions, identify trends, and opportunities. One can also make decisions based on data with enhanced confidence.
  • Putting Data on Map: This is used to answer the where and why of the data. Many interactive maps can be created automatically. Another endowment is the built-in postal codes which ensure lightning-fast speed for over 50 countries worldwide. Various geocodes and other territories are used for personalized regions like sales. Thus, data stands out with Tableau maps.
  • Big Data, Live or in-Memory: Tableau helps in extraction of huge data for unlimited exploration in seconds. It serves as a perfect combination of improvements in database and computer graphics technology for analysis of huge datasets.

Tableau desktop can be classified into two different sources of data based on their connectivity:

Read: Tableau Tutorial for Beginners: A Complete Guide
  • Tableau Desktop Personal: The Personal version of Tableau Desktop keeps the workbook private with limited access. It cannot, however, be published online. Hence, it has to be distributed either offline or in Tableau Public.
  • Tableau Desktop Professional: It is quite similar to Tableau Desktop. In the professional version, all data types are fully accessed and are best suited to the ones published in Tableau Server.

2). Tableau Server:

Tableau Server is the perfect business-level analytics which your business will cherish, enabling people to both share and handle data and other insights in the cloud. It is particularly used for sharing workbook and other kinds of visualizations which are created in the Desktop all across the organization. For sharing various dashboards on Server, you are required to publish your work on the Tableau Desktop. Once the work has been put up on the server, only then it will be accessible to the licensed users of Tableau. Also, it is not important that the licensed users need to have Tableau Server installed on their machines. All that is needed is the login details with which the reports can be checked on a web browser. Tableau server is endowed with high security and is highly suitable for fast and effective sharing of data. Only the admin will have complete control over the server. Some of the primary uses of the Tableau Server are:

  • Responsible Data to People: Server gives freedom to the business of data exploration in a closed and trustworthy environment without imposing any limits on any kind of pre-defined questions, wizards or any kind of charts. This gives assurance that your data and analytics are monitored, secured and accurate. Tableau is a hot favorite of IT organizations for easy deployment, strong integration and simple scalability in addition to perfect reliability. The choice of empowering the business and protection of data with Tableau is ruled out as one can handle both the aspects with ease.
  • Ask in Natural Language: You can push the business for asking questions from any kind of published source making use of the natural language. Any question can be asked making use of Ask Data to get answers in the form of a viz. Ask Data can make use of robust algorithms for automatic profiling, indexing, and optimization of data sources. Also, with the point-to-point authoring capabilities, it becomes easy to add additional sources of data for creation for fully interactive dashboards.
  • Data on Cloud: You can connect to any source of data in a secure environment. You can also publish and share the data sources in the form of live connections or extracts for use by all. You can further work with many well-known data sources like Cloudera, Hadoop, AWS Redshift, Microsoft SQL Server, Teradata, etc. Many web data connectors and APIs are used for accessing hundreds of additional data sources.
  • Empowerment by Governance: It allows strong and secure governance without any compromise. You can handle all your metadata and rules of security. Further, many shared and curated sources of data are given to the users. It thus allows the right combination of user flexibility and control.

3). Tableau Public:

This is particularly built for cost-conscious users. The word ‘Public’ stands for the fact that workbooks which have been made cannot be saved on locally but have to be saved on the public cloud of Tableau which can both be viewed and also accessed by anybody. Files, do not have any kind of privacy as anyone on the cloud can view them. This version is best suited for the people who want to learn Tableau and the ones who do not mind sharing their data with the public.

4). Tableau Online:

It is the perfect answer to the self-service analytics of the cloud. Its functions are similar to Tableau Server although the data is kept on the servers which are hosted in the cloud and kept by the Tableau. There is no upper storage limit. A direct link is created to over 40 sources of data which are hosted in the cloud-like MySQL, Amazon Aurora, Hive, etc. Some of the notable features of the same are:

Read: What is Group and How to Implement Grouping in Tableau?
  • Sharing and Collaboration: Tableau Online is the platform for analytics, which is completely hosted in the cloud. It allows you to both publish your dashboards and share your discoveries with anybody. You can also invite your colleagues and customers for exploring latent opportunities with various interactive visualizations and accuracy of data.
  • Skipping the Setup Time: Being a completely hosted solution, Tableau can run in minutes and can add users endlessly as the needs increase. You do not have to configure your servers or manage the software updates or even scale the capacity of your hardware.
  • Web Interaction: Tableau online allows you to explore interactive dashboards from anywhere. You can scale down or enumerate and even filter your data while on the run. All the views can be customized with the sound editing of web and authoring of new workbooks from the published data.
  • Anywhere Connection and Embedding: There is no requirement of private networks, and you can give your external teams, clients or partners simple and easy access to analytics. You can embed interactive dashboards easily on the web and also in the apps such as Salesforce in very less number of clicks.

5). Tableau Reader:

It is a free tool by which you can view various workbooks and other visualizations which are created using the Tableau Desktop and Tableau Public. Although the data can be filtered, there are restrictions on editing and modifications. The level of security is zero as anybody who can get the workbook can see it making use of the Tableau Reader.

Working of Tableau

Many tools for coding, testing, productivity, and cloud-management are used as part of the design, development, testing, deployment, and the developers use management of applications. Many of these offer various capabilities related to reporting and analysis, but the teams involved in technology have a sound reason to develop their own capabilities of reporting for better analysis, prediction and even management aspects of their work. Tableau helps to connect and extract data, which is present in many places. Data can be pulled from any kind of platform which you can possibly imagine. E.g., ranging from simple databases as an excel, pdf, to various complex databases like Oracle, Microsoft Azure SQL database, Google Cloud SQL, etc. can be extracted by Tableau.

  • Connect to Data: When Tableau is launched, many ready data connectors are there, which let you connect to any database. The number of data connectors which are supported by Tableau usually vary depending on the version of Tableau.
  • Play with User Interface: The data which is pulled can either be connected live or even extracted to the data engine of Tableau. It is the data engine where the data analyst or the data engineer actually work on pulled on previously for developing visualizations. The dashboards which are created are often shared with the users using a static file. The users who finally get the dashboards see the file as Tableau Reader.
  • Create Visualisation: The data which is from the Tableau Desktop has to be published on the Tableau server. This is a platform on the business level where the collaboration, distribution, model of security, governance, and even the features of automation are supported. Tableau server gives the end-users a wonderful experience in accessing files from all the locations like a desktop, mobile, or an email.


Tableau has thus come of age as the best tool for Business Intelligence. It has a rich feature set which allows for coding and customization of reports. It has a typical product suite comprising Tableau Desktop, Public, Online, Server, and Reader. Each product has specific endowments, which make it the best data analytics tool. For more insights and updates, you may refer to

Read: Top 25 Tableau Interview Questions and Answers for Fresher & Experienced

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