Learn Tableau: something new every day!
Years ago, one of my colleagues asked if Tableau was something that you could eventually learn everything there was to ever know. Naively, I said, “Yes.” But I was wrong! I learn Tableau every day.
Consider all the areas Tableau touches:
- Data Structure
- Set theory
- Server architecture
- Thinking in aggregate
- SQL (and maybe even MDX)
- Data integration
- Business Intelligence
- and more!
Even if you were an expert in one or two of those areas you couldn’t be an expert in all of them. And even if you were an expert in one, you wouldn’t know everything. (In fact, as an expert, you would know what you didn’t know!)
So, two quick points and an example:
First, don’t despair! You don’t have to know everything! In fact, that’s why I love Tableau. It makes it so I can produce a lot of value without having to understand everything. Do I have to understand SQL to get Tableau to talk to an underlying data source? No. Does it help? Sure. But I could use Tableau even if I never learned how to write a SQL script. Do I have to have a degree in statistics to use trends and forecasts? No. Does it help? Sure. And it can keep me from making some bad assumptions, so I won’t shy away from learning and I won’t shy away from admitting what I don’t know. But Tableau opens the door to me as an every day person to effectively leverage tools that I may never fully understand. (and if you want to learn Tableau, here’s a shameless plug for my book: Learning Tableau & second edition coming soon!)
Second, it’s actually exciting! The fact that I don’t know everything is great! It means that I can continue to grow and expand. And that’s exciting! That’s one thing that I love about consulting ( shameless plug for my employer Teknion Data Solutions) – there’s never a dull moment! Every new client has a new domain of knowledge to learn, new challenges, new questions, new ways to solve those challenges.
And not only do I grow in knowledge of various industries, data sets, visualization techniques, and ways of communicating; I continue to learn Tableau itself, every day! Here’s an example:
The way I used to select Layout Containers
Whenever I wanted to select an object’s parent layout container, I used to use the drop down menu from the little down arrow that appears on each dashboard object when you click it. Then I’d select Select Layout Container…
It works, but it’s a bit tedious and very easy to accidentally click the wrong place and have to start over.
The little Tableau trick I learned:
I was recently technically reviewing a forthcoming Tableau video series by Tim Messar (shameless plug for the video series – it is outstanding! and also follow Tim on Twitter). In the section on dashboards, Tim casually mentioned the way he selects the parent layout containers of objects on the dashboard. Just double click the border or grip of the object:
Really!? I never saw that in any documentation! I could have saved hours of time as I designed dashboards… And I will save hours of time in the months and years to come! And so will you! Or maybe you already knew this Tableau trick. Maybe you know other Tableau tips and tricks. Feel free to share them in the comments below and help all of us as we continue to learn Tableau!