I recently blogged about my favorite Tableau 9.0 feature: LOD Calculations. This feature really blows open the possibilities for analysis and answering complex questions. But there are dozens of little features, enhancements and tweaks that might initially go un-noticed. And they make a huge difference in the look, feel, and overall experience. These are some of my favorites:
Go ahead and sing it (to the tune of “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…”) The guy in the next cubical won’t mind…
Responsive Tooltips: I remember seeing this feature proposed by Tim Wahl (http://community.tableausoftware.com/ideas/2643) and thinking it would be impressive. Well, the Tableau developers implemented the idea and it’s even more impressive in action. And they kept the option for using the old wait for hover. I love it when developers don’t assume new ways are always best in all circumstances. The Tableau engineers are the best!
Speed: Everything seems faster. The UI is more responsive, the startup time is shorter, parallel query processing dramatically speed up dashboards, and quite a few behind the scenes engine enhancements make for an overall pleasant experience. It feels like I’ve upgraded my computer hardware just by upgrading to Tableau 9.0.
Speed: Not only speed of the platform, but the speed of design is faster too. Need a reference line? You used to have to right-click an axis, select Add Reference Line, and then select your options. Now: switch to the Analytics Tab and you have drag and drop analytics! Need a quick calculation? You used to have to right click in the data window and select Create Calculation, write some code, click OK, find the new calculated field in the data window and then drop it into the view. Now: double click a blank space in Rows, Columns, or Marks and type some code to create an Ad-hoc calculation.
The new 9.0 calculation editor, which can stay open while you edit the view is an incredible feature too!
Home Screen: It looks sharp and polished. It is also slick and responsive. Thumbnails change sizes and you see more or less depending on the size of the window. It’s easy to quickly connect to data or open workbooks.
Data Connection: The new data connection menu is polished and sports a new search box (important when new types of connections are added with each new release! I remember when the Google Analytics connection was new…)
Data Preparation: We’ll soon be saying, “Remember when you had to use the Excel ad-in to reshape your data? (Oh, and sorry, Mac didn’t have it.)” No longer. Now the ability to pivot and reshape data from Excel is built-in. Throw in the new Data Interpreter which figures out excessive headers, footers, and merged cells, along with the ability to split fields and data structure issues become a lot more manageable.
Color Picker: Love the new design and especially the ability to pick a color on screen. Ever want to easily and exactly match your website colors for embedding a view? Now you can!
Sheet Preview: Ever forget whether you wanted to insert Sheet 18 or Sheet 19 in the dashboard? Hover over a sheet tab at the bottom or on the left side-bar when designing a dashboard or story and see a thumbnail preview.
Tableau Server: This one deserves its own blog post. I work with Desktop day by day it’s easy to overlook Tableau Server except when I want to share my work. But the developers have shown Server the respect it deserves. The interface is completely redesigned and the experience is very pleasant. You’ll especially love the update if you have to administer users, groups and permissions.
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Joshua Milligan is a three-time Tableau Zen Master. His passion is training, mentoring, and helping people gain insights and make decisions based on their data through data visualization using Tableau. He is a principal consultant at Teknion Data Solutions, where he has served clients in numerous industries since 2004.
Joshua served as technical reviewer on several Tableau titles and is the author of the book Learning Tableau.