What is Tableau?

Tableau is a powerful and fastest growing data visualization tool used in the Business Intelligence Industry. It helps in simplifying raw data into the very easily understandable format.

Data analysis is very fast with Tableau and the visualizations created are in the form of dashboards and worksheets. The data that is created using Tableau can be understood by professional at any level in an organization. It even allows a non-technical user to create a customized dashboard.

The best feature Tableau are

  • Data Blending
  • Real time analysis
  • Collaboration of data

The great thing about Tableau software is that it doesn't require any technical or any kind of programming skills to operate. The tool has garnered interest among the people from all sectors such as business, researchers, different industries, etc.

In this tutorial, you will learn-

Tableau Product Suite

The Tableau Product Suite consists of

  • Tableau Desktop
  • Tableau Public
  • Tableau Online
  • Tableau Server
  • Tableau Reader

For clear understanding, data analytics in tableau can be classified into two section

  1. Developer Tools: The Tableau tools that are used for development such as the creation of dashboards, charts, report generation, visualization fall into this category. The Tableau products, under this category, are the Tableau Desktop and the Tableau Public.
  2. Sharing Tools: As the name suggests, the purpose of the tool is sharing the visualizations, reports, dashboards that were created using the developer tools. Products that fall into this category are Tableau Online, Server, and Reader.

Let's study all the products one by one.

Tableau Desktop

Tableau Desktop has a rich feature set and allows you to code and customize reports. Right from creating the charts, reports, to blending them all together to form a dashboard, all the necessary work is created in Tableau Desktop.

For live data analysis, Tableau Desktop provides connectivity to Data Warehouse, as well as other various types of files. The workbooks and the dashboards created here can be either shared locally or publicly.

Based on the connectivity to the data sources and publishing option, Tableau Desktop is classified into

  • Tableau Desktop Personal: The development features are similar to Tableau Desktop. Personal version keeps the workbook private, and the access is limited. The workbooks cannot be published online. Therefore, it should be distributed either Offline or in Tableau Public.
  • Tableau Desktop Professional: It is pretty much similar to Tableau Desktop. The difference is that the work created in the Tableau Desktop can be published online or in Tableau Server. Also, in Professional version, there is full access to all sorts of the datatype. It is best suitable for those who wish to publish their work in Tableau Server.

Tableau Public

It is Tableau version specially build for the cost-effective users. By the word "Public," it means that the workbooks created cannot be saved locally, in turn, it should be saved to the Tableau's public cloud which can be viewed and accessed by anyone.

There is no privacy to the files saved to the cloud since anyone can download and access the same. This version is the best for the individuals who want to learn Tableau and for the ones who want to share their data with the general public.

Tableau Server

The software is specifically used to share the workbooks, visualizations that are created in the Tableau Desktop application across the organization. To share dashboards in the Tableau Server, you must first publish your work in the Tableau Desktop. Once the work has been uploaded to the server, it will be accessible only to the licensed users.

However, It's not necessary that the licensed users need to have the Tableau Server installed on their machine. They just require the login credentials with which they can check reports via a web browser. The security is high in Tableau server, and it is much suited for quick and effective sharing of data in an organization.

The admin of the organization will always have full control over the server. The hardware and the software are maintained by the organization.

Tableau Online

As the name suggests, it is an online sharing tool of Tableau. Its functionalities are similar to Tableau Server, but the data is stored on servers hosted in the cloud which are maintained by the Tableau group.

There is no storage limit on the data that can be published in the Tableau Online. Tableau Online creates a direct link to over 40 data sources that are hosted in the cloud such as the MySQL, Hive, Amazon Aurora, Spark SQL and many more.

To publish, both Tableau Online and Server require the workbooks created by Tableau Desktop. Data that is streamed from the web applications say Google Analytics, Salesforce.com are also supported by Tableau Server and Tableau Online.

Tableau Reader

Tableau Reader is a free tool which allows you to view the workbooks and visualizations created using Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public. The data can be filtered but editing and modifications are restricted. The security level is zero in Tableau Reader as anyone who gets the workbook can view it using Tableau Reader.

If you want to share the dashboards that you have created, the receiver should have Tableau Reader to view the document.

How does Tableau work?

Tableau connects and extracts the data stored in various places. It can pull data from any platform imaginable. A simple database such as an excel, pdf, to a complex database like Oracle, a database in the cloud such as Amazon webs services, Microsoft Azure SQL database, Google Cloud SQL and various other data sources can be extracted by Tableau.

When Tableau is launched, ready data connectors are available which allows you to connect to any database. Depending on the version of Tableau that you have purchased the number of data connectors supported by Tableau will vary.

The pulled data can be either connected live or extracted to the Tableau's data engine, Tableau Desktop. This is where the Data analyst, data engineer work with the data that was pulled up and develop visualizations. The created dashboards are shared with the users as a static file. The users who receive the dashboards views the file using Tableau Reader.

The data from the Tableau Desktop can be published to the Tableau server. This is an enterprise platform where collaboration, distribution, governance, security model, automation features are supported. With the Tableau server, the end users have a better experience in accessing the files from all locations be it a desktop, mobile or email.

Excel Vs. Tableau

Both Excel and Tableau are data analysis tools, but each tool has its unique approach to data exploration. However, the analysis in Tableau is more potent than excel.

Excel works with rows and columns in spreadsheets whereas Tableau enables in exploring excel data using its drag and drop feature. Tableau formats the data in Graphs, pictures that are easily understandable.

Parameters Excel Tableau
Purpose Spreadsheet application used for manipulating the data. Perfect visualization tool used for analysis.
Usage Most suitable for statistical analysis of structured data. Most suitable for quick and easy representation of big data which helps in resolving the big data issues.
Performance Moderate speed with no option to quicken. Moderate speed with options to optimize and enhance the progress of an operation.
Security The inbuilt security feature is weak when compared to Tableau. The security update needs to be installed on a regular basis. Extensive options to secure data without scripting. Security features like row level security and permission are inbuilt.
User Interface To utilize excel to full potential, macro and visual basic scripting knowledge is required The tool can be used without any coding knowledge.
Business need Best for preparing on-off reports with small data Best while working with big data.
Products Bundled with MS Office tools Comes with different versions such as the Tableau server, cloud, and desktop.
Integration Excel integrates with around 60 applications Tableaus integrated with over 250 applications
Real time data exploration When you are working in excel, you need have an idea of where your data takes you to get to know the insights In Tableaus, you are free to explore data without even knowing the answer that you want. With the in-built features like data blending and drill-down, you will be able to determine the variations and data patterns.
Easy Visualizations When working in excel, we first manipulate the data that is present and then the visualization such as the different charts, graphs are created manually. To make the visualizations easily understandable, you should understand the features of excel well. Whereas in Tableau, the data is visualized from the beginning.

To conclude, Tableau beats Excel in major areas like the interactive dashboards, visualizations, capabilities to work with large-scale data and many more.

Summary

  • Tableau is a powerful and fastest growing data visualization tool used in the Business Intelligence Industry
  • The Tableau Product Suite consists of 1) Tableau Desktop 2) Tableau Public 3) Tableau Online 4) Tableau Server and Tableau Reader
  • Tableau Desktop has a rich feature set and allows you to code and customize reports
  • In Tableau public, workbooks created cannot be saved locally, in turn, it should be saved to the Tableau's public cloud which can be viewed and accessed by anyone
  • Tableau server is specifically used to share the workbooks, visualizations that are created in the Tableau Desktop application across the organization
  • Tableau online has all the similar functionalities of the Tableau Server, but the data is stored on servers hosted in the cloud which are maintained by the Tableau group.
  • Tableau Reader is a free tool which allows you to view the workbooks and visualizations created using Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public.
  • Tableau connects and extracts the data stored in various places. It can pull data from any platform imaginable.
  • The spreadsheet application used for manipulating the data while Tableau is a perfect visualization tool used for analysis

 

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