Tableau trouble? Recent resources to the rescue! [Videos by @sqlbelle and @TableauTim]

Map of China in TableauHere’s what you’ll find in this post:


The case for TableauScroll to Contents ↑

If you don’t yet use Tableau (or a similar data visualisation tool, such as Power BI), chances are high that you may well in future. As businesses become more data-driven, I’d say presenters will use tools like Tableau more and more.


“Author” and “viewer” explainedScroll to Contents ↑

As a presenter, your role when you use Tableau is likely to be as either:

  • an “author” – you build charts and other visualisations, then present them
  • a “viewer” – you purely present visualisations built by an author

Either way, Tableau can become a core part of your toolkit:

  • As an author, you can even use Tableau as your presentation software
  • As a viewer, you can easily export visualisations from Tableau to PowerPoint


The trouble with TableauScroll to Contents ↑

But if you use Tableau, I’m betting you’ve had trouble understanding some parts of it. (I certainly have!)

It’s a big program. And its terminology can seem “alien”

After all, it’s a big program. And its terminology can seem “alien” – especially if you use it as an author, rather than just as a viewer.

For instance, if you’re a Tableau author, I’m sure you’ve heard these terms a lot when learning about the software:

  • Pill
  • Shelf
  • Dimension
  • Measure

And if you’re a Tableau viewer, you’ve likely heard more about “workbooks” and “crosstabs” than you’d ever choose to!


Give me data – how big is Tableau?Scroll to Contents ↑

Just how big and complex is Tableau? Well, see if you can guess how many pages are in the user guide for Tableau Desktop. (That’s the part of Tableau that authors use to build visualisations.)

When you have a number in mind, check out the answer:

The Tableau Desktop user guide has
3,600 pages!

So I’m not exaggerating about Tableau’s size.


A newbie’s viewScroll to Contents ↑

Because of Tableau’s size and unique terminology – and its quirks – learning it can seem quite daunting.

Sure, there are heaps of free and paid resources online. In fact, even that presents some issues, like:

  • Which resources are worth your time?
  • How many 8-hour videos can you bear to watch? (Believe me, there are plenty!)

Also, to my mind, most of the learning resources about Tableau don’t explain its terminology and best practices well – if at all.

So, in the last 2 weeks, I’ve been delighted to find high-quality YouTube channels that I’ll share with you below


Help’s at hand!Scroll to Contents ↑

I’d say these newly-discovered videos have 2 benefits:

  • They’re split into far shorter clips than the day-long ones you can find online
  • They carefully explain (and often demonstrate) what new terms mean

You’ll find them on these YouTube channels:

To show you what they’re like, let’s look at a couple of samples below – one from each channel


Tableau authors: 2 short videos for youScroll to Contents ↑

How well do you understand dimensions and measures – and that both of them can be discrete (blue) or continuous (green)?

If you’re a Tableau author, you can’t be productive without clearly understanding all these concepts:

  • Dimensions
  • Measures
  • Discrete
  • Continuous

By far the best explanation I’ve seen for those 4 key terms is in this 10-minute video, from SQL Belle:

While the video’s playing, you might want to click the Full screen button (or just press F) so you can see the fields and other details.
To exit full screen, click the button (or press F) again. Or press Esc.

Just by watching that, I hope you’ve gained a deeper grasp of those concepts. (For me, the video was a huge help!)

What about the difference between discrete and continuous fields when you colour charts and maps? On that point, I found the 2½-minute clip below so helpful. It’s from an 8-minute video by Tutorials Point India:

In case you’d find it helpful, I’d also add one other point. Namely, this is how I remember that discrete fields are blue in Tableau and continuous ones are green:

  • Blue reminds me of IBM (sometimes called “Big Blue”). IBM’s a key player in the history of computers, which – at their core – work with discrete (binary) data.
  • Green reminds me of nature, where processes tend to be continuous.


Tableau viewers: A short video for youScroll to Contents ↑

When you choose several filter options, how can you stop Tableau from briefly “freezing” after each one?

If you’re a Tableau viewer, this 2-minute clip (from a 40-minute video) should help. In it, Tableau Tim shares a tip that should save you time (and perhaps frustration) when you view dashboards:

While the video’s playing, you might want to click the Full screen button (or just press F) so you can see the filters and other details.
To exit full screen, click the button (or press F) again. Or press Esc.

When you’ve time, I highly recommend you watch the whole video (40 mins), as it’s full of handy tips. Maybe you know other people who could benefit from it, too?


Over to youScroll to Contents ↑

So, I hope you found those videos helpful, and that the points about Tableau’s size and features were of interest.

What’s your journey with Tableau been like? By all means join the conversation in the comments. Your views are always welcome.

And if you found this post or the videos helpful, please tell people about Tableau Tim and SQL Belle. Or share links with your network using the buttons below – thanks!


Also check outScroll to Contents ↑


What’s YOUR view?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.