It’s already been a week since Tableau Conference 2018 wrapped, and I am still buzzing over it. Over the past week, more than 17,000 data enthusiasts including everyone from Tableau beginners to the legendary Zen Masters gathered in New Orleans to learn more about the data visualization platform’s new features and share their Tableau stories. I was lucky enough to attend the conference and was completely blown away by two things: new features in upcoming releases (Ask Data, Tableau Prep Conductor, and new data modeling capabilities) and the incredible support, diversity, and creativity of the Tableau Community.
In the Opening Keynote, Tableau announced their Innovation Roadmap along with a slew of new features coming in future releases. These features fill some significant gaps between Tableau and Power BI (natural language querying, scheduled data prep flows, streamlined data modeling) and fulfill frequent requests from business users (export to PDF, improved mobile app & design features).
Natural language querying allows users to ask questions of their data by simply typing questions into a search bar. It’s a feature that has been available for a while now in Power BI (under the moniker ‘Q&A’), so it was great to see that Tableau now entering this space with Ask Data. Ask Data is currently in beta, so be sure to visit Tableau’s Pre-Release Program if you’re interested in checking it out!
My biggest issue with Tableau Prep to date has been that there’s no way to schedule a prep flow. The newly announced Tableau Prep Conductor is an add-on for Tableau Server and Tableau Online that allows users to schedule these workflows and automate their data refreshes. Tableau Prep Conductor is also currently in beta.
Tableau also announced new data modeling capabilities that will be available directly within Tableau Desktop, including automatic recognition of data relationships in common data warehouses. These new features will allow users to leverage multiple levels of detail of their data with more ease. The demo included a user building a fairly extensive data model with a single click. These data modeling features aren’t in beta yet, so we still have to wait before we can take them for a test drive. As of right now, I’m cautiously optimistic. It would be incredible to be able to save on the dev time of testing data models, but this seems like it would only work on legacy tables with well-defined relationships. We’ll keep an eye on the release date and let you know!
Soon, users will be able to export a dashboard directly from Tableau Server or Tableau Online to a PowerPoint file. This will be a huge time-saver for users who have been exporting their dashboards into image files or PDFs just to put them into decks (though not as much of a time-saver as using Tableau Stories for their presentation in the first place, but that‘s for another post…)
Tableau is re-designing their mobile app to improve the user experience by providing interactive offline previews and making it easier to access your Favorites. The new Mobile App is currently in beta and you can check it out today.
Interacting with mobile dashboards is one thing, but designing them is another. Luckily, Tableau is adding phone dashboard layouts (including an auto-layout) in a future release, further building upon the Device Preview feature to offer an improved mobile development experience.
As incredible as these upcoming features are, what really left an impact on me were the people. The Tableau Community is a welcoming, supportive group that is looking to share both product knowledge and stories that they have discovered with data on Tableau Public. Tableau Public is a place for anyone to share their visualizations, tips, and data stories with the rest of the world, and the team who manages it is looking for ways in which they can make it more accessible so that everyone feels comfortable sharing their work with others. Any workbook that is published to Tableau Public can be downloaded, so you can see just how the author built a visual, wrote a calculation, or formatted a view. It is also a place for users to get feedback from Tableau Zen Masters and Jedis as to how to take their work to the next level, all free of charge. It was awesome to meet the members of this community, to hear their stories about how Tableau has allowed them to contribute to causes they are passionate about or even completely revolutionize their career, and to see the impact that their work is making. If you are looking for a resource for both learning and inspiration, look no further than Tableau Public and the amazing Community powering it.
Tableau Conference 2018 has me fired up and ready to take my vizes to the next level! There are a ton of powerful features that are coming in 2019, which means that we will be able to transform data into stories even more effectively. Even better, there is an expansive Tableau Community that wants to hear these stories and celebrate them! The more improvements there are to data tools like Tableau and the more people driving action with them, the closer we get to working in a data-driven culture, and that’s a win-win if I’ve ever heard one.
If you weren’t able to make it to Tableau Conference, you can view the sessions that were recorded! Check out my list of Most Anticipated Sessions (they lived up to the hype) if you’re looking for some suggestions. Be sure to reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter if you want to geek out on Tableau!