With every new year comes new challenges, new opportunities and, more importantly, a chance of exploring new directions. Here is my twelve-step programme to kick-starting your Tableau journey 2020.
1. Download and install Tableau Public
Tableau Public is a freely available service for creating, publishing, and sharing data visualizations; Tableau Public consists of a desktop tool for connecting to data sources and creating data visualizations in Tableau, and a Cloud-based hosting service for your data visualizations.
Tableau Public is a near fully functional version of Tableau Desktop, and while there are some limitations i.e. not being able to connect to enterprise databases, or being able to use Extensions, but for the purpose of learning, is perfect.
You can download Tableau Public: https://public.tableau.com
2. Go through the Tableau Training Videos
Tableau provides hours of training videos that you can explore in your own time. If you are getting started with Tableau, I would recommend starting with the following:
- Getting Started (34 minutes / 3 videos)
- Connecting to Data (62 minutes / 11 videos)
- Visual Analytics (142 minutes / 25 videos)
- Dashboards and Stories (40 minutes / 8 videos)
- Mapping (44 minutes / 11 videos)
- Calculations (65 minutes / 16 videos)
- Why is Tableau doing That? (28 minutes / 5 videos)
- How To (39 minutes / 10 videos)
This is 7.5 hours worth of high-quality training videos that would be a great starting point; you can find the Tableau Official training videos on the official website: https://www.tableau.com/learn/training
Tableau Public also has some additional training videos for you; you can find the videos under the How-to videos as well as Sample Data: https://public.tableau.com/en-us/s/resources
3. Join Tableau Public and Follow
Once you have downloaded and installed Tableau Public and progressed through the training videos, you will want to get some inspiration, and what could be better than creating your own Tableau Public Profile and following members of the community.
With that said, go to the Tableau Public website, sign up and then complete your profile; you can start publishing your work here and building your online portfolio. As a side note, when I am hiring Tableau Developers, having a strong Tableau Public profile will help you stand out.
Once your profile is created, here is a list of people you can start following:
- Toan Hoang / Tableau Magic: https://public.tableau.com/profile/toan.hoang
- Kevin Flerlage: https://public.tableau.com/profile/kevin.flerlage
- Ken Flerlage: https://public.tableau.com/profile/ken.flerlage
- Mike Cisneros: https://public.tableau.com/profile/mikevizneros
- Alex Jones: https://public.tableau.com/profile/jusdespommes
- Ivett Alexa: https://public.tableau.com/profile/yvette
- Lindsay Betzendahl: https://public.tableau.com/profile/lindsay.betzendahl
- Joshua Smith: https://public.tableau.com/profile/datajackalope
- Jacob Olsufka: https://public.tableau.com/profile/datavizard
- Alexander Varlamov: https://public.tableau.com/profile/alexandervar
This is just a small selection of authors, but as you explore more, you will discover so much inspiration here.
4. Join the Tableau Forums
The Tableau Community Forums is a great place to ask questions and to support others; you can also search the forum for questions you may have to make it a great resource for your learning
There are various forums for you to join and engage with:
- Forum (Browse topics, ask questions, and share your insights): https://community.tableau.com/community/forums
- Server Administration (Connect with other Tableau Server and Tableau Online Admins to learn best practices for upgrades, scaling, permissions, and more): https://community.tableau.com/community/forums/server-administration
- Tableau Online (Questions and Resources for Tableau Online) https://community.tableau.com/community/forums/tableau-online
- Tableau Prep (Connect with others to learn how to combine, shape, and clean your data for analysis with Tableau Prep) https://community.tableau.com/community/forums/prep
- Developer Forum (This is your central hub for information on building for the Tableau Platform) https://community.tableau.com/community/developers
- Tableau External Services (Connect with others to learn how to utilize External Services such as R, Python and Matlab with Tableau) https://community.tableau.com/community/forums/externalservices
- Tableau Ideas (Vote of the Tableau Community’s best product ideas and add your own to the mix) https://community.tableau.com/community/ideas
- Tableau User Group (Connect with Tableau users who are in your area or share your interests and expertise) https://community.tableau.com/community/groups
I would suggest creating an account and to spend some time browsing through the various forums, based on your interests.
5. Connect to Social Media
Social Media is a great way for you to connect to others, build your personal network, and keeping up to date with various initiatives and developments. Tableau has a huge presence on Twitter but also other platforms as well.
Note: while I would encourage you to engage immediately, it is perfectly fine to just be a passive participant, read through the various discussions, and wait until you feel ready to contribute and engage. Connecting is the first step.
I would recommend you to create these accounts and connect to the various networks.
Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Tweets were originally restricted to 140 characters, but on November 7, 2017, this limit was doubled to 280 for all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
Sign up and check out the following Hashtags:
and do not forget to follow people.
LinkedIn is an American business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps. Founded on December 28, 2002, and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CV.
If you sign up, you can follow various members of the Tableau community and also the following Groups and Companies:
- Tableau Software
- Tableau Magic
- Tableau Software Fans and Friends
- Tableau Developers Groups
- Tableau Enthusiasts
Personally speaking, LinkedIn is a great platform for building your professional network and brand.
Facebook, Inc. is an American social media and technology company based in Menlo Park, California. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, originally as TheFacebook.com—today’s Facebook, popular global social networking website. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies along with Amazon, Apple, and Google. Facebook is one of the world’s most valuable companies.
Tableau is not as prolific on Facebook, but there is a presence and we have been developing our community of developers and enthusiasts:
You can also find Tableau on a host of other platforms as well, but these are the top three in my opinion.
6. Engage with the Tableau Community
As mentioned, the biggest asset at your disposal to learn Tableau is the Tableau community. While I truly understand that Social Media is not everyone’s cup of tea, I would suggest that you ease in with some basic steps:
- Follow People of Interests to you
- Like posts that you enjoy
- Retweeting or sharing posts that you enjoy
- Comment on what you see or like (it could be as simple as “Love It”)
- Send a direct message to those who you follow, even to thank the person, as I find this a lot easier than having a publically visible discussion.
I am sure that if you follow these steps, have patience, you will find that the community is one that you would love to be a part of.
7. Download and Explore Tableau Dashboards
A lot of Tableau dashboards are available for you to download, open up, and work through. I would suggest that you try downloading the dashboards that you enjoy and checking out the inner workings.
- Tableau Viz of the Day Gallary
- 6 real-world examples of business intelligence dashboards
- Tableau Public Featured Author Profiles
I highly recommend that you visit the profiles of the Tableau Public Featured Authors and checking out and downloading their data visualizations.
8. Participate in Social Data Challenges
One of the highlights is the Tableau community is the number of data initiatives available to help you practice, develop your skills, and connect you with others. Here is a selection for you to check out:
Makeover Monday is a weekly learning and development appointment with yourself and hundreds of passionate data people. Each week, a new data set is released, so you can explore your creative side by making over the data sets and creating data visualisations, seeking feedback and supporting others growth.
Every Wednesday a data set and data visualisation is presented with the aim to recreate this data visualisation. While Makeover Monday tests your creative side, Workout Wednesday challenges your understanding of Tableau by recreating some very cool looking dashboards.
Note: I would recommend definitely participating in both Makeover Monday and Workout Wednesday.
Other fantastic data initiatives are:
- Iron Quest: https://sarahlovesdata.co.uk/tag/ironquest
- Viz for Social Good: https://www.vizforsocialgood.com
- Project Health Viz: https://vizzendata.com/projecthealthviz
- Throwback Data Thursday: https://throwback-thursday.com
- Iron Viz: https://www.tableau.com/iron-viz
9. Join Tableau User Group and Meetup
The Tableau community has a mixture of both Online and Local User Groups. I would highly suggest that you attend a local event if you can, however, if there are no local events, you can always join a virtual meetup where you can listen to talks from members of the community covering a wide range of topics.
You can find a list of User Groups here: https://usergroups.tableau.com
Note: most of these events a free and are created by passionate members of the community as a labour of love. It would be a great experience for you to join one of these.
10. Tableau on YouTube
Tableau has a YouTube Channel with a wide range of videos; I would recommend going through the various videos, and especially those from the Tableau Conference, yes, Tableau has made hundreds of conference videos free for you to watch.
You can find the Tableau YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/tableausoftware
Towards the end of 2019, we started building a presence on YouTube, you can find our channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYe8BUmuIuSDLdojgExdxkA
11. Follow Websites
Tableau also has an army of prolific expert bloggers for you to follow; these bloggers will teach you about a range of topics from beginners to super-advanced Tableau. To get you started, here is a list of ten websites to follow:
- Tableau Blog
- InterWorks Blog
- Information Lab Blog
- Flerlage Twins Blog
- VizWiz BI
- Ryan Sleeper
- Visualising Data
- Adam Mico
- Data Plus Science
This a short list of my favourite go-to places, however, there are some great listings available for you to check out.
- Mike Sandberg’s Blog: https://datavizblog.com/my-favorite-data-visualization-blogs-beta
- Best of Tableau Web: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1L1NATVBQQy_zTI-WHO3LvGd3gexPpgjxjleQRtBv2Qw
Note: I use an RSS application on my phone to keep up to date with new blog posts and articles.
12. Support others
As a life long teacher, I can tell you that the best way of refining your knowledge is to teach others, and to teach responsibly. If you learn something new, go deep and truly understand it fully, and then by explaining to others, you will hopefully refine your own framing of the subject.
You do not need to blog, create your own website, or commit endless amounts of time, however, give as much as you can. If you are on Social Media, the Tableau Forums, and you see a question, why not provide a quick answer and help those that are on an earlier stage of their journey.
Another fantastic way of supporting others is to collaborate on projects. This is massively rewarding and can yield some interesting results and growth.
With all of this said, I hope that if you are looking to get into Tableau, these twelve steps provide a good entry point for you.