Workflow and Analytics Game-Changes in the Road Map for Tableau 8.1 and 8.2


Workflow and Analytics Game-Changes in the Road Map for Tableau 8.1 and 8.2

by Tom McCullough

Attendees at the 2013 Tableau Customer Conference in National Harbor were delivered an electrifying experience in the keynote address Monday morning. After an inspiring introduction from Tableau CEO, Christian Chabot, the development team, led by Chris Stolte, unwrapped a collection of improved workflow and analytics features to be released with Tableau version 8.1 and 8.2.

What do the new features and improvements mean to us, the Tableau user?  

Many of the changes indicate huge shifts in efficiency, security and ease of use. The biggest power from 8.1 and 8.2 is the addition of predictive analysis and improved forecasting features. The integration of the R Statistics Language alone breaks boundaries for the Tableau data analyst.

Workflow and Analytic Improvements 

Most of the new features I view as workflow improvements. Better handling of graphics, more power over legend and filter formatting, and one-click calculations will greatly reduce development and styling time. The more Tableau moves into the enterprise application space (or should I say takes over?), the more the ability to quickly create beautiful visualizations and dashboards becomes top priority.

Seamless access to data

The new data connection dialogue will allow even novice users to more quickly organize and structure data as it is brought into Tableau. This is also a very effective improvement that will help users better understand the structure of their data in Tableau and how it might be streamlined or otherwise improved overall. Better connection to data equals greater power for your analytics.

Visual analytics for everyone

The addition of the box-plot to the ‘Show Me’ dialogue is a bigger deal than it may appear. Distribution analysis is requested in 100% of the work that I develop. Sure, this is completely possible with the current build of Tableau. However, the new Show Me option and the accompanying dialogue make this a much quicker and more flexible task. 

Percentile aggregation, ranking and forecasting are also features in the current build. The improvement lies not only in improved workflow, but also in power. I’m specifically interested in the new percentile aggregation and its dialogue. With about three clicks, a single line graph became an intuitive distribution analysis.

While reserving what should be a full-featured discussion on R Statistical Language for another lengthy discussion, I will say that the integration of R into Tableau will be, in my opinion, the one feature that is a major shift in Tableau’s power and dominance in the market.

Fast, easy beautiful

Data window organization, new powerful theming tools, better user controls and dashboard copying … thank goodness! These will be the biggest time-savers for me as a developer. 

But Wait! Storytelling pages too!? This is the heart of data analysis for all. The Story in the Data is what we are all here for; what makes us wake up in the morning.  

Tableau is giving us more power in understanding why we analyze, helping us to share history and possibility through our data.


Wholesale switch to 64bit, external load balancers and SAML single-sign-on integration were revealed in the keynote. Hardware and security improvements and streamlining … need I say more?

Visual analytics everywhere

The improvements to web authoring are extreme and amazing. To be honest, during the iPad demonstration, it occurred to me that Tableau’s very essence is a touch and play experience. Data visualization with a swipe of a finger. The user space for ad hoc analysis is now truly mobile and easy.

Native application for the Mac user!

My colleague was visibly ecstatic seeing the Apple logo on the big screen yesterday. 

Wait, everyone was.   

No real detail needed here. We have been waiting for a Mac application for years and now we’ll have it!

Other items on the Road Map

Though not mentioned in the Keynote, the Tableau developers are making some much-needed improvements to the Javascript API including cross-dashboard filtering, more intuitive event listeners and access to underlying data via JS hooks.  I’m specifically interested in these improvements as I see a huge need for integration with Tableau in web applications, content management systems Sharepoint, etc.

Power Tools for Tableau

Tableau gives you a powerful tool for getting insight into your data. At the TCC, InterWorks announced the upcoming Power Tools for Tableau, a powerful set of tools for getting insight and control over Tableau workbooks. As our clients have used Tableau, they’ve created thousands of Tableau workbooks, and they frequently ask us to help them manage those workbooks in a batch and/or automated way: merging workbooks, auditing workbooks, comparing workbooks, styling workbooks and more. The Power Tools for Tableau will support Tableau 8.0 and 8.1 and is planned to release in Q4 2013.

My Overall Response

It is clear that the Tableau Software team listens to its family of users and partners. By the end of the address, the already excited crowd of nearly 4,000 crescendoed to a roar with the ultimate unveiling of what many Tableau users have long awaited: Native Macintosh client. The large collection of upcoming features and improvements to Tableau in 8.1 and 8.2 are powerful, creative, effective and, in a lot of cases, simply game-changing.

Did you miss the live TCC13 keynote? No worries, you can watch it here

More About the Author

Tom McCullough

Solutions Architect
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