In 2018, I did it in (Tableau) Public

2018 Goals in Review

Posted by David Velleca on December 28, 2018

2018 Was a Good Year

In 2018, I made a concerted focus on pushing myself to be more active in the Tableau Community. In all honesty, this ‘resolution’ was a holdover from attending my first Tableau Conference in October 2017. I set some very modest goals, and am pretty pleased with the results.

Goal 1: Publish Vizzes!

The first of my goals was to publish at least one viz to Tableau Public per week. Knowing that there would be weeks that I couldn’t do this, either due to work, travel or family, I settled for an average of one per week. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve got 3 full days left in the year, and I’m sitting on 80 published vizzes. I’ll call this one successful.

One thing that kept me on track for this goal was the Tableau Community Initiatives, like MakeoverMonday and WorkoutWednesday. I liked that the data prep was already done for me, and that there was a community around the initiatives. However, while I initially liked that I didn’t have to do the data prep, I also wanted to start using Tableau Prep (more on that in a minute). Also, I found that I wasn’t always in love with the datasets that MakeoverMonday put out, and no offense Tableau, but I can only play with Superstore data so many times.

So I struck out and started ThrowbackDataThursday, something I had been thinking about since #TC17, but hadn’t really worked out the logistics. Fortunately, I have some pretty talented colleagues who helped me get the website started. Anyways, back to how this ties in to my goals… The visibility that ThrowbackDataThursday has provided a bit of accountability, and was a huge driver for putting out both a weekly data source and its corresponding viz. If I could participate in my own community initiative, I should be able to hit my weekly viz goal.

I’m looking forward to being more on top of ThrowbackDataThursday in 2019, and starting the year out right, while also hoping to grow participation. If you’re interested in a new challenge, check out the site and get vizzing. Apologies for the ad – that’s the only one.

Goal 2: Go beyond “Show Me”

My second goal was to continue to push my boundaries within Tableau, especially when it came to my viz types. In my professional life, I’m typically bound by what my users will be able (or willing) to read and take action on. This means that I’m pumping out loads of bars, lines and crosstabs. Note that I draw the line at pie charts and gauges, though I have done a couple donuts. With these being part of my daily life, I wanted to go beyond these simple visualizations and push myself to create and understand different chart types. A caveat here, however: I focused on creating different chart types when it made sense for the data that I was visualizing; I made every attempt to avoid forcing data into a viz only for the novelty or presentation.

Fortunately, I found a LOT of inspiration from the Tableau community and was able to explore different chart types. I had fun creating Sankeys, curvy timelines, waterfall charts, and more. Even more fun was being able to share some of the visualizations that I created in Tableau Public with people who are typically my “customers” while explaining how the viz types work, and how some may be suitable for use in their reports. Even before I was able to get people thinking about viewing their reports differently, I was calling this goal accomplished. If I can help to make corporate reporting a little more effective and interesting along the way, that’s icing on the cake.

Goal 3: Do it in Public…and Prep…and Desktop and Server

The last goal was to become well rounded in all of the Tableau products. Not 100% tied to Tableau Public, but to the suite as a whole, I wanted to have a good understanding of the different offerings – from the free Tableau Public tool to Desktop to Server and Prep, I wanted to get more into all of it.

Even before #TC17, I’d heard about Project Maestro, the product that would eventually become Tableau Prep. As I mentioned before, ThrowbackDataThursday provided a great opportunity for me to explore the tool. I really like the ability to have a quick look at an entire dataset before taking it into Desktop. Also, the ability to clean data has been really important for some of the data I’ve found. Interestingly, I’ve even found that I’m getting better at simple prep and cleaning in Prep than Excel. This part of my goal is a success.

My professional life provides the opportunity to develop in Desktop and administer sites and servers, and because of this, I’d actually never used the free Tableau Public app. While not incredibly different from the paid Desktop version, there are a few key features that are different – primarily no locally saved workbooks, fewer data connectors and a couple others. For the average non-corporate purpose the tool is perfect, and I’ve been recommending it to colleagues and others who want a copy of Tableau outside of work. Pair my use of Tableau Public with continued use of Desktop and Server and I’m also considering this goal a success.

Look out 2019, Here I Come!

I was strategic when initially creating my goals at the end of last year, picking things that were definitely achievable without upending my normal routine or adding hours of work that I didn’t have to give. For 2019, I’m sticking with that strategy, and have an overarching goal focusing on education and sharing my knowledge with the Tableau community. I’ll be taking steps to be active on the Tableau Community Forums, and will be focusing a blog post each month on a “how to”. Additionally, my big goal is to speak at #TC19.

I’m extremely pleased with where 2018 took me, and am really looking forward to 2019. Wishing everyone a happy New Year!