Date: 06 Jan 2021

Recently, I am preparing the launch of Tableau in my company. I have, therefore, collected some useful resources and want to share with my readers.

General Learning Path

  1. Understand the terminology used in Tableau
    1. You may refer to this link.
  2. Understand the Tableau environment, meaning the functions of buttons and cards in the environment.
  3. Learn by doing
    1. Connecting to different data sources
    2. Plotting different charts
    3. Building dashboards and some fancy dashboards
    4. Using calculated fields
    5. Using parameters
    6. Using sets and groups
    7. Using table calculations
  4. Sharing your results through Tableau Online/ Server

Resources

I found the following video a good resource to learn the basic of Tableau in which she explains the Tableau environment clearly and show you how to plot different charts and create dashboards. This video, however, just go through the advance topics, like calculated fields, sets and groups, etc, briefly.

But, with good foundations, you can refer to other resources to learn those advance topics.

For a self-learner, asking questions when needed is always a challenge. The good news is Tableau has a very active and helpful community. You will get fast and quality response from here: https://community.tableau.com/s/.

Personal Experience

To be honest, I am also new to Tableau. But, I can still share some learning experience for people who are just started.

The Tableau environment is a bit overwhelming at first. When I first open my Tableau desktop, I just drag and drop different fields to “Columns”, “Rows”, and “Marks”. Very often, I don’t get the result I want. While this is a normal first step, I found understanding what those buttons mean really helps.

I also found that many users do not have the concept of dimensions and measures. Measures are data fields that are generally numeric and can be aggregated. Dimensions are generally quantitative data fields which give context to what we are measuring. For example, if we want to ask the question: what is the sales by product type? Sales is the measure and product type is the dimension. This is important to know because what is (measure) by/for/… (dimensions) is a common pattern of asking question. And in Tableau, measures are in green while dimensions are in blue.

I think before you drag any fields to your Tableau environment, you better have a question in mind first. Stop awhile and construct your question in your head. Since Tableau is very “easy” to use, unlike writing codes in which you need to work out the logic in your head first, users tend not to think too much and just start drag and drop. I found that this is inefficient. You turned out using a lot of “undo” and got lost.

My steps to answering question in Tableau is:

  1. Formulate the question I want to ask in my head
  2. Classify the question in to measures and dimensions
  3. Drag the measures to the right place
  4. Drag the dimensions to the right place
  5. Choose the visualizations I want

It sounds like a complicated process. But if you get some practice, this becomes your second nature.

Hope it helps!

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