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The Concept of Tableau


Why do we use Tableau? We use Tableau to show data which is in a way much more comprehensive and comprehensible; comprehensive in the sense you can show multiple things together and comprehensible because it is easier to understand graphically. Tableau helps to induce thinking about the substance; since when a graph is made it will be possible to tell about the trend, highs and lows of the data point, cross-sectional, sub-sectional things, relationship between a couple of things which isn’t visible to the human eye at one go. One can present different numbers in a small space so different parameters, different variable and the combination of different variables can be presented. By small space, we mean a single dashboard.


Using Tableau one can make large data sets coherent, encourage the eye to make a comparison and reveal data at several levels of detail. In simple terms, we will be able to drill down, dig the data, break the data, slice the data and dwell into as much depth as you want graphically. So you will be able to see a larger picture and also the final details. So, these are the key principles of visualization, by which we mean this is what visualization is based on or we can say these are the salient features of visualization:

  1. We do not perceive absolutes; what we mean by absolutes is that if we have only one single component we don’t have the perception. To understand a perception we compare two or more different things.
  2. Our eyes are drawn to familiar patterns; we will not try to make our dashboard colorful and unique, but we should try to keep it general, which is comfortable and with which one is able to relate to the graphs being presented.
  3. Memory plays a role in cognition, but our working memory is limited. If we have the lot of things in our dashboards like graphs, charts and numbers people will not be able to remember what they see and neither will they be able to comprehend. So, it is better to keep it simple and always only provide appropriate and required information.


Thus, the good analytical design allows humans to process higher quantity of information, more dimensions of information and multiple perspectives. To understand this better, consider a case where a table with information about the sales of a product for the past one year is given. In this case, one will not even be able to remember the sales of the last five or six years, leave alone a year and neither will it be possible for one to see a pattern. But when the same thing is represented graphically, we will have a better perception and we can obviously take smaller parts on the timeline and make the comparison for various different factors.


In regards to more dimension of information, not only two dimension x-y can be represented but 3-d can be brought in by using colors, 4-d can be brought in by using shapes and 5-d by using sizes, etc. Hence, in one single graph one can see multiple dimensions, multiple features, multiple attributes and multiple parameters that make the graph much more comprehensive.