Designing Efficient Workbooks


At Tableau, we seek to change how people view, interact with, and understand data. As a result, we do not attempt to deliver the same kind of experience as traditional enterprise BI platforms. Tableau is at its best when used to create workbooks that are:

Visual – there is a mountain of evidence that shows the most effective way for humans to understand large, complex sets of data is through visual representation. Tableau’s default behaviour is to present data using charts, diagrams and dashboards. Tables and crosstabs have their place (and are supported) and we will talk more on how to best use them later.
Interactive – Tableau documents are designed for interactive delivery to users, either on their desktops, over the web or on a mobile device. Unlike other BI tools that primarily produce print-focused output (either to actual paper or to a document such as a PDF), the focus is on creating rich, interactive experiences that allow users to explore data and be guided through business questions.
Iterative – discovery is an inherently cyclical process. Tableau is designed to speed the cycle from question to insight to question so that users can quickly develop a hypothesis, test it with available data, revise that hypothesis, test it again, and so on.
Fast – historically the BI process has been slow. Slow to install and configure software, slow to make data available for analysis and slow to design and implement documents, reports, dashboards, etc. Tableau allows users to install, connect and develop documents faster than ever before – in many cases reducing the time to produce an answer from months or weeks to hours or minutes.
Simple – traditional enterprise BI tools are often beyond the capability of most business users, either through cost or complexity. In many cases, users need the assistance of IT or a power user to help create the queries and documents they want. Tableau provides an intuitive interface for non-technical users to query and analyse complex data without needing them to become database or spreadsheet experts.
Beautiful – they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to visual communication there are best practices to be followed. Through features such as “Show Me”, Tableau guides non-technical users to create effective, understandable charts based on the data being used.
Ubiquitous – increasingly, users are no longer creating documents for a single delivery platform. Users need to view and interact with data on their desktops, over the web, on mobile devices, embedded in other applications and documents, and more. Tableau allows a single document to be published and then used across all these platforms without any porting or redesign.

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About the authors

Alan Eldridge

Director of Sales Engineering, APAC at Snowflake Computing