The journey is the destination

Data

The journey is the destination

by Andy Cotgreave

Unlike any other tool I’ve used before, Tableau invites exploration. One can start with a blank canvas and end up who knows where. That’s what makes Tableau fun to use. However strange that word looks when used in a work context, it’s true.

I had a challenge. I needed to produce a handout that compared survey data on two suppliers. We had twenty questions that were asked across 17 different functional areas by a bunch of people. That’s a lot of info.

Back in the old days, I’d have ended up with a gloriously dull pivot table made in Excel. It would have either summarised the data to death, ending up with a one page table that aggregated away any meaning. Or maybe I’d have produced pages and pages of charts that showed the trees but not the forest.

Instead, I connect the data to Tableau and go on a trip.The end results is the trellis above (click it to see the full size version). So why did this particular chart get me excited enough to write a post about it?

Was it because 2,194 marks are being displayed on one page? Partly.

Was it because every single question and answer can be viewed on one page? Sure.

Was it because you can look down a whole row or across a whole column and see exactly where one supplier outperformed another? Kinda.

Was it because it is very quickly clear that the supplier with the black line largely outperforms the grey supplier? Definitely.

Or was it because my client took one look at it and almost fell over because it was exactly what they wanted? For sure.

Actually, the main reason was more than just the above. It was the fact that when I connected to the data, I had no idea what my end result was going to be. I knew it was going to printed out, so had to find a way to keep the page count down. How did I design the trellis? I didn’t – I just had an inkling of what might work, dropped Dimensions and Measures around as seemed relevant, and the end result emerged almost on its own.

And that’s why Tableau works: you don’t need to know where you’re going, just set off and you’ll end up somewhere pretty damn cool.

More About the Author

Andy Cotgreave

Croydon Cyclone 2011 This weekend saw the Croydon Cyclone disc golf tournament. It was the biggest UK tour event for a long time, and the Croydon club ...
Panel Charts in Tableau Over on the forum, Jeremy asked about making trellis charts. For more info on trellis/panel charts, John Peltier has a great article ...

See more from this author →

Subscribe to our newsletter

  • I understand that InterWorks will use the data provided for the purpose of communication and the administration my request. InterWorks will never disclose or sell any personal data except where required to do so by law. Finally, I understand that future communications related topics and events may be sent from InterWorks, but I can opt-out at any time.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

InterWorks uses cookies to allow us to better understand how the site is used. By continuing to use this site, you consent to this policy. Review Policy OK

×

Interworks GmbH
Ratinger Straße 9
40213 Düsseldorf
Germany
Geschäftsführer: Mel Stephenson

Kontaktaufnahme: markus@interworks.eu
Telefon: +49 (0)211 5408 5301

Amtsgericht Düsseldorf HRB 79752
UstldNr: DE 313 353 072