How do you analyze data in modern times? Are you still sticking to the old ways of managing large spreadsheets with bar graphs and pie charts? Does your data analysis tool help you collaborate with your team in real-time? Or are you looking for something fast and easy to understand? Tableau is the answer to these questions as it is a one-stop solution for all of your data management and visualization needs.
This article takes a look at what Tableau is, its important features, its use, and the resources available to learn it.
How to Learn Tableau
Tableau is a complex and powerful tool to visualize data, so it is important to understand its purpose and features before we dive into learning its dynamics.
What is Tableau?
Tableau is a data visualization tool that provides users with a pictorial and graphical representation of data. Founded initially as a computer science project at Stanford in 2003, Tableau has come a long way. It has grown to become the most widely used tools for data visualization across start-ups and corporations alike.
Tableau helps store and manipulate data in spreadsheets or compatible Database Management Systems (DBMS) solutions, and also helps create reports and charts on the same data. It is used by business teams around the world to create stunning reports and draw meaningful conclusions from data easily.
Features of Tableau
Tableau offers multiple features as a data visualization tool. Here are some of them:
- Great visualization of data. Tableau dominates the data visualization market due to its ability to produce excellent visualizations and dashboards. It supports more than 30 kinds of data and allows creating complex graphs and charts, similar to those used in Excel and Sheets. Sales pipeline, healthcare data, product availability, social media — you name it and Tableau has it.
- Supports multiple databases. Apart from supporting numerous data types, Tableau also supports connection to multiple data sources. This means that data for your Tableau reports and charts can come from sources like MySQL, Oracle, IBM, and MongoDB.
- Super simple to use. Using Tableau is easy as the platform has a simple user interface software. Tableau has an easy to learn drag and drop interface, which allows people from non-coding backgrounds to easily get started with the tool.
- Great community support. There are a lot of great professionals with tremendous knowledge working with Tableau, who are passionate to learn and work together. There are different types of user-groups, communities, and user-bases in Tableau’s community forums to help each other.
What is Tableau Used for?
Tableau has grown to become a popular choice when creating spreadsheets and charts. Before we set down to learn the tool, let’s explore some of its use cases:
- Building functional dashboards. Tableau is the go-to for business teams that are looking to build beautiful dashboards based on their datasets quickly. Tableau dashboards are quick to build and easy to use, which is how they make Tableau the best alternative as a data visualization tool.
- Interacting with data: A team needs to be able to interact with its data and reports. Tableau’s results — reports, dashboards, and charts — are highly interactive, and you can convert a chart into a graph for better visibility in seconds.
- Sharing reports and dashboards: One of the strengths of Tableau is collaboration. Teams located across various locations can collaborate easily, and share reports and dashboards seamlessly when using Tableau. This makes tableau the perfect fit for use-cases in which teams are distributed across the globe.
Tableau is a robust data visualization tool and it is important to know how to fully use it if you are planning to work with data analysis in the future. The following is a list of resources to help you get started:
The Best Tableau Resources
As Tableau is a popular tool, people have tried to create content that can help you easily get started. Let’s take a look at the free and paid video courses that are available for Tableau:
Free Training Videos by Tableau
- Platform: Tableau.com
- Duration: About 14 hours
- Price: Free
- Prerequisites: None
- Start Date: On-Demand
Offered by Tableau.com, this video course is the perfect course to use as a beginner. There is an ample number of videos on each topic in Tableau, and the best part is that everything is explained by the creators. This course has a perfect balance of difficulties, clearly separated by use-cases like creating, viewing, and admin.
- Platform: Coursera
- Duration: Six months at three hours per week
- Price: Free
- Prerequisites: None
- Start Date: On-demand
The UC Davis program houses five independent courses to help you get going with data visualization. It is a long series and can be taken slowly if needed. Dedicate three hours per week to complete the course within six months, and this pace is best-suited for people who already have a regular engagement and are looking to learn Tableau.
- Platform: Udemy
- Duration: Nine hours
- Price: About $10
- Prerequisites: None
- Start Date: On-Demand
This course, rated at 4.6-stars by over 60,000 learners, is the most popular one in the market. It begins right with the basics by helping you install and set up Tableau on your system and covers advanced topics like dashboard actions and advanced data preparation. If you’re looking for one course that fits your learning requirement all in one place, this is the way to go!
Apart from video courses, many books are available to help you get started with Tableau. Some top ones include:
‘Tableau for Dummies’ by Molly Monsey and Paul Sochan
Priced at about $18 on Amazon, Tableau for Dummies is one of the best Tableau introductory books. There is a dedicated section on the interface on Tableau, which makes it a great asset for absolute beginners who have a hard time finding their way around in complex tools. Apart from that, this book offers great insights into how to make the best use of the tool from the perspective of a beginner.
‘Visual Analytics with Tableau’ by Alexander Loth
Priced at about $36 at the moment (check the latest price here), Visual Analytics is one of the best options for non-technical people who are looking to learn Tableau. It offers a practical-first approach to learning the tool and begins with the basics. It is a great book for those who want to quickly learn Tableau from the beginning.
Priced at about $26 at the moment, this book is a great asset for those looking for advanced learning. It utilizes Tableau from the very beginning, so it’s good to have some prior knowledge of how things work before starting with this book.
Apart from the video courses and books, there are also a great number of tutorials available around the internet. Here are some great pieces to begin with:
Learn by Tableau
Offered by the Tableau organization themselves, Learn offers a series of beginner-friendly video tutorials to help you get started with the tool. This course is made keeping beginners in mind, so it does not take you to a very advanced level. It’s a good alternative, to begin with, but you are going to need to take another, more advanced course to take your learning journey forward.
Also, make sure you visit Tableau’s documentation page. It contains release notes on their latest version and sections to help you get started with Tableau. Certain sections are accompanied by in-depth video tutorials you can watch after signing up for an account.
Tableau Tutorial for Beginners: Learn Basics in 3 Days by Guru99.com
With ample content on introduction, installation, and advanced operation, this course offers the perfect roadmap to mastering Tableau. This course delivers what it promises — the content is compact enough to be covered in three days and wide enough to cover the most common use-cases of the tool. However, if you are looking for something more advanced, you may want to couple this together with one of the other courses on this list.
Tableau Tutorial by TutorialsPoint.com
This resource feels more like a glossary of subtopics of Tableau and less of a guided tutorial. However, the depth of content on each subtopic is great, and this can be an important asset once you are done with the basics.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Tableau?
Given that Tableau is a powerful and detailed tool, it usually takes three to four weeks to get a good start. Rigorous practice, aided with practice projects for a duration of another one to two weeks is sure to make the basics pretty clear in your mind, thereby allowing you to unleash the full potential of this tool.
Should You Study Tableau?
After compiling a great list of courses and content on Tableau, we are now faced with the most important question of all: should you learn Tableau?
The answer to this question is simple: if you are willing to dive into the world of data analysis, or if your day to day job involves sifting through huge spreadsheets and preparing reports, Tableau is the best skill to invest your time and resources into. Tableau offers great integration with top DBMS solutions, as well as helps in creating simpler data.
If you are looking to make a career as a data analyst, Tableau is one of the basic job requirements. There are some decent competitors like Excel and Google Sheets, but they can not match the flexibility and versatility offered by Tableau.
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