Tableau Public dataviz software updates to version 8

Tableau Software has updated its data visualization software suite to version 8 with a host of new features, including a JavaScript API and, in the case of the paid version, connections to Google Analytics, and Google BigQuery.

Alas I don't have the budget for the paid version but have used its free counterpart, Tableau Public. In general, I find Tableau Public robust but non-intuitive; if I'm away from it for even a few weeks, I find it difficult to do all but basic work without spending a fair amount of time looking up how to do things. However, for free drag-and-drop software with external hosting for visualizations, it's still a useful alternative for a number of users who want to post complex visualizations on the Web.

Tableau Public redesigned Marks panel

The interface has been partially redesigned, and it's a step forward in usability. I particularly like the new "Marks" card that allows you to drag a field onto a "color" button if you want to change color based on that field's value, a "size" button to change marker sizes by that field's value and so on. There's a tooltip button for easier stying of rollover windows; and a "floating" option makes it easy to position items just so onto a visualization dashboard.

Keep in mind that free Tableau Public requires all your data -- and your workbook structures -- to be downloadable and re-used by others once you publish a visualization online.

Tableau has posted a series of training videos on Public, including what's new in version 8, and a sample of interactivity with the JavaScript API.

I did a quick map created in Tableau Public 8 below. Note that Tableau Public was warning of "intermittent performance delays" today -- perhaps due to heavy usage with the launch of version 8 -- so it may be slow to load.

There's a lot more you can do with Tableau Public, though, including dashboards with multiple visualizations that can be filtered at the same time. Want more affordable data tools? See my slide presentation Data visualization on a shoestring and chart of 30+ free tools for data visualization and analysis.


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