Express With Tableau: Useful Built-in Features to Know

This post originally appeared on the Atrium blog. Authored by Amitesh Patara

We are all well aware that it is difficult to extract information by looking at thousands of rows on a spreadsheet, but data visualization makes it very easy to identify patterns and trends. It helps give us a clear idea of what the information means by providing a visual summary through maps or graphs.

Tableau has truly proved that when it comes to data analysis, it is more about asking questions, not about learning software. Tableau is providing limitless data exploration without interrupting your flow of analysis with its built-in features. That’s why people love using Tableau. Tableau is one of the most effective tools to create interactive data visualization. We can perform complex tasks with simple drag-and-drop functionalities.

In this article, we explore some of the many ways in which we can express with Tableau.

Wildcard Union and Cross-Database Joins

After the table is combined using a cross-database join, tables, and columns in the data grid are colored in the canvas so that we can see which connection the data comes from. In some cases, we may need to combine our data using data blending.

We can use the wildcard character (*) to match a sequence or pattern of characters in the Google Sheets workbook and worksheet names, and Excel workbook and worksheet. Instead of being limited to a single data source, we can now join cross-departmental data and work across multiple Excel workbooks as well. In Tableau, the data analyzed by us is generally made up of collections of tables that are related by specific fields. Joining combines that data on the basis of those common fields.

Suppose we enter *2019 in the Include Text box to unite tables in Excel worksheets with names that end in “2019.” Search criteria will give the result in the union of April 2019, May 2019, and Nov 2019 tables (Excel worksheets), from the selected connection.

Watch the Tableau 10 feature video.

Cross-Data Source Filtering

After we have identified the common fields, we can create relationships between them or map one field to another. The Edit Relationships option is not new to Tableau but we leverage it to provide great defaults and configurability. By default, any field in Tableau with the same name is treated as related. If we have common fields in different data sources with different names, then we can define a custom relationship (mapping the field names together), or we can simply rename the fields so that they match.

Watch the Tableau 10 feature video.

Data Highlighter

Interestingly, our selection is always saved with the workbook and when publishing it can be included in dashboards and stories.

Watch the Tableau 10 feature video.

Custom Territories

To make this simpler, Tableau has created a tool with which we can easily aggregate geographies to build our own custom territories. Now there are several ways to create territories such as select and group locations on a map, create a territory from a geographic field, and geocode a territory field using another geographic field. If our data source doesn’t contain a territory field at all, we can blend a territory field with another geographic field in our data source.

Watch the Tableau 10 feature video.

Workbook Formatting

We may also want to remove grid lines from our view or make them more noticeable by increasing their pixel size or color. We can also change the workbook theme. New fonts are introduced which are legible even in small sizes. We can specify the style, size, font, and color for either the header text or/and pane text or both.

Watch the Tableau 10 feature video.

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