5 posts tagged

tableau

Comparing Tableau and PowerBI training programs Not published

Estimated read time – 7 min

This year I succeeded in becoming a Tableau Desktop Certified Associate. When I was thinking about how to prepare for the exam, I came across e-learning courses from Tableau that turned out to be free for 90 days.

I decided not to waste such an opportunity and complete all the 3 modules in Fundamentals at a fast pace. When I got certified, I was wondering which programs are offered by other producers of BI tools. First things first, I decided to study training materials on PowerBI. In this small article, I would like to compare Tableau and PowerBI training programs.

Disclaimer: in the end, I have formed an unfairly prejudiced and positive attitude towards Tableau, so PowerBI supporters may not like this article and find it biased (in all fairness, there are also words of praise for PowerBI).

After having studied the training materials, I can finally state the reasons why I am definitely in favor of Tableau as a tool for data analysis and visualization.

First of all, there is a huge gap in the approach to materials and the assessment of their understanding. Although Tableau training materials are more technical and pay less attention to design, by studying through their videos you can do excellent visualization. After completing all three steps of Tableau training, a strong desire to create new stunning reports with the use of LOD Expressions, Filter Actions, and make convenient interfaces arises. However, after watching all the materials on Power BI the only question that remains is why did I waste my time?

Emotions aside, there are several key points that turned out to be important after having studied the material.

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This is a good dashboard according to Microsoft

The quality of content and training examples

If you consider the way training videos are presented in Tableau and the questions in a quiz format that are posed at the end of the covered material, you start understanding the idea of the software. But in the case of Power BI, you will be totally disappointed. Have a look for instance at the material for identifying outliers, here Microsoft suggests building a scatter plot and visually identifying all the outliers.

Design of reports and dashboards

There is some objective criticism towards Tableau training materials on the topic of graph design and control elements, but they are still neatly and beautifully made. Now have a look at the dreadful thing that Microsoft suggests as the result of the analyst’s work. And this is a well-built dashboard according to Microsoft.

Assessment of the knowledge gained during the training

During the training at Tableau, immediately after a small lecture, you learn by applying the part of the studied material in practice. You need to click certain buttons in the interface to solve a problem. Power BI offers “labs” that are supposed to be launched from a remote machine. I didn’t manage to start a single lab; I wrote to the support 3 times and the support couldn’t solve my problem so I didn’t manage to experiment over the PowerBI tasks.

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The results of the analyst’s work according to Microsoft.

Other points are mostly related to the software rather than the training program.

Cross-platform support

I have been working with Tableau for a long time and 4 years ago I switched to Mac. After the transition from Windows, my experience of using Tableau did not change. In fact, Tableau was developing and I was developing with it, but the team did not change the key elements of the interface. I have been experimenting with building reports in PowerBI, but I was uncomfortable with different Microsoft archaisms like publications through some share-portal where you need to have an MS account and configure something through the administrator. All of this was a terrible headache.

However, what struck me so much was that I could not use PowerBI on a Mac. There is absolutely no way and this is a principled stance of Microsoft which is not expected to change in the future. From my point of view, such software belongs to a B2B segment in the field of analytics, assumes the connection to all kinds of DBMS, but denies the existence of an alternative operating system which could be used by a number of potential consultants that could use and promote PowerBI as an analytical tool.

Most certainly, there are some rational reasons why any software from Microsoft doesn’t work very well on Mac, but the simple truth is that for me the software remains inaccessible. Nevertheless, I wasn’t looking for an easy way out and installed PowerBI through Parallels in order to honestly consider the tools again taking into account the training materials.

Visualization options

Both Tableau and PowerBI offer stunning visualization options. In fact, in this regard, PowerBI offers a video with a little more information than usual. So, on this matter, the tools are presented equally well.

Functionality

Here I want to give credits to the functionality of PowerBI. In fact, the variety of tools is extremely wide even without connecting third party libraries. For example, automatic clustering, decomposition tree, data profiler and setting filters on a graph.

Internal language syntax

To work with PowerBI you need to learn DAX. It is not a programming language, but a functional language. You won’t be able to write your own code, however, you won’t even need it – all the functions are already implemented, so you should only learn how to use them. Microsoft tells about DAX quite well in the manual. Definition of a new measure in DAX looks like this:

Revenue YoY % =
DIVIDE(
	[Revenue]
		- CALCULATE(
			[Revenue],
			SAMEPERIODLASTYEAR('Date'[Date])
	),
	CALCULATE(
		[Revenue],
		SAMEPERIODLASTYEAR('Date'[Date])
	)
)

Preparing data for the analysis

Inside PowerBI there is a Unpivot feature that allows bringing the data in columns with time periods into the form that is convenient to use in pivot tables.

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02-unpivot-ss.png

However, an ETL tool for data cleaning and wrangling in Tableau Prep also has this feature implemented.

Conclusions:

1) The training programs are built in completely different ways, the methodology of immersion into Tableau tools is more elaborate and efficient. There is an opportunity to get practical experience of solving problems and get feedback (albeit automatic).
2) Reports and dashboards design in training materials from Microsoft hardly look professional while Tableau’s implementation is much better.
3) Knowledge assessment at Microsoft is implemented at the abysmal level (absolutely perfunctory tests like in a bad school) while at Tableau it’s much better implemented, you dive into the problem, think about the answer and solve it.
4) Cross-platform support is not PowerBI’s strongest point, however in the case of Tableau it’s an excellent competitive advantage.
5) The functionality and capabilities of the tools are certainly at the highest level, and in some points, PowerBI wins.

Have a look at our dashboard reviews in Tableau and other BI tools.

 No comments    16   1 mon  

Tableau Dashboard Overview

Estimated read time – 6 min

In the previous article, we focused on the problem statement, designed a layout, shared our goal to build a Tableau Dashboard for Superstore dataset. The dashboard should provide insights on most profitable regions, products, customer segments and estimate key performance indicators (KPIs) over the past time.

The data in SuperStore Sales reflect sales and profit of the retail chain in Canada. It includes information about customer orders, refunds, sales and geodata. But we’re mostly interested in sales data, as our main goal is to create an executive dashboard to understand company’s operating margin, find most and least lucrative product categories, and customer segments.

So here’s how the dashboard looks like:

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All dashboard elements are placed into containers, we can easily resize or change their hierarchy, this enables to optimize the dashboard and make it more mobile/tablet friendly. We can also filter the data by time periods and choose a specific month and year in the top right corner, and all the charts will be redrawn automatically.

The next field shows key factoids on the company performance: profit, sales, orders count, average discount, customers and sales per customer. Each of the indicators displays YOY, a statistical measure to evaluate a company’s financial progress over time. If the indicator shows positive change, a green arrow will be added, if negative – red.

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Below are two core charts, displaying regions (colored based on profit) and profit dynamics. We can click on a specific one to view its stats in-depth.

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The green dot on the right chart represents data for a selected month this year, while the blue dot displays the same month last year. When hovering these points you can see a trend line, that facilitates assessing how the company’s doing today.

Let’s move to the second part, here we placed company’s products and customers onto 3 charts. The first one, starting from the left, called bar in bar chart, where you can easily explore product efficiency. For instance, Tables is one of the most inefficient categories, with Breford CR4500 that resulted in significant losses.

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Bar in bar chart implementation

Then goes the chart with company’s customers, by default they are sorted in descending order by profitability. The chart is linked with Top Performing Provinces, so if we want to discover best or worst customers for the selected province, the data will be redrawn automatically.

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Dashboard Evaluation

We evaluated this dashboard according to the criteria below. On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the highest, it gets the following scores from our team :

  1. Meets the tasks – 10,0

  2. Learning curve  – 5,5

  3. Tool functionality – 9,0

  4. Ease of use – 8,5

  5. Compliance of the result – 10,0

  6. Visual evaluation – 9,7

This Tableau Dashboard scored 8.8 out of 10 from the team! In our perspective, the dashboard fully meets the requirements and facilitates understanding of business performance over a reporting period. We can assess profit dynamics in general or for the selected region, and effectively leverage products and customers data in measuring monetary results. The final version is available through this link.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments down below, how would you rate this dashboard?

 No comments    372   7 mon   BI   BI-tools   guide   tableau

Animating sports data in Tableau

Estimated read time – 3 min

Previously we shared how to visualize your sports data from the SwingVision app in Tableau , using custom background and shapes. This time we are going to animate our dashboard to watch how landing locations of tennis shots changed over the match. Such an animation can be exported into a video file for later use. That’s what our result looked like in Tableau earlier:

The chart shows landing coordinates of tennis shots on the court. Forehand shots are marked in red, backhands are in orange, the x marks for shots went into the net. We can also use filtering and get expanded tooltip info on hover.
Tableau enables us to create pages to flip through members of a field, changing and animating the analysis. In this case, all we need to is simply drag-and-drop the Shots table to the Pages shelf and click on the Play button.
1.gif

Let’s switch to the dashboard and try adding the Pages shelf, just click on Worksheet -> Show cards and apply to the current page.
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Next, create a new vertical container, drag the panel and minimize the view:
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Now after clicking on the Play button, the first part is done:
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If you’re a macOS user, it won’t be a problem to make a video from this animation by pressing ⌘ + Shift + 5 and choosing a specific part of your screen. In other cases, you may need to download third-party software for screen recording.

 No comments    80   7 mon   animation   BI-tools   dashboard   tableau

Custom visualization of sports data in Tableau

Estimated read time – 6 min

Being a tennis fan, I recently discovered a new app created to help players to assess their game skills – SwingVision. The app can recognize tennis shots in real-time and display its landing coordinates. The author of this app is Swupnil Sahai, currently he is a Lecturer at UC Berkley.

1@2x.jpg
My tennis stats, shown by the app

SwingVision also allows you to view your “rallies” and specific shots, assess the average shot speed and error rate. Moreover one can easily export its stats as an Excel Table.

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Example of exported table

In today’s material, we are going to create a custom Tableau chart that would reproduce stats from SwingVision and display the landing location of my shots on the court. First, we need to find a suitable tennis court image (top view), like this one.

Next, we need to import the data stored as an Excel Table into Tableau, set values for both coordinates using the Shot Placement (x), and Shot Placement (y) columns, and remove the aggregation of measures to get something like this:

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After filtering shots by player the chart somewhat resembles the upside-down version of the actual image:

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To reverse the image, we need to change the values of current x and y from positive to negative by creating new measures, add some color and everything will start to line up:

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The X marks on the chart represent all shots that hit the net, we can hide them from view and set a constant value for Y =- 11,89, which corresponds to the length of a half-court.
Then when we try adding the background image, however, this will cause a warning, because the image is not scaled properly:

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This means that we need to calculate the ratio of our image to the real-size court. In our case, for instance, the image is 913px in width, while the court itself is 10.97 meters wide, so by calculating 913 over 10.97, the ratio for x will be 83.227.

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The middle of the court will be considered as the origin (0, 0), and will divide the court vertically into halves of 456.5px.
Remember that the image itself has margins, both to the right and left that are equal to 143.3px each. Just create new measures for x and y, substituting with the following values:

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After these steps, our image should be as follows:
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As finishing touches, we set a custom icon for each point on the chart and add filtering options.

To sum up, the dashboard displays everything we need: landing location of shots, their speed, types of strokes and expanded tooltip info on hover:

 No comments    99   8 mon   BI-tools   dashboard   tableau

Guide to modern Business Intelligence Tools

Estimated read time – 2 min

In our new series, we will try to give a detailed representation of  several BI tools using the SuperStore Sales dataset. The data in SuperStore Sales reflect sales and profit of the retail chain in US dollars.

In the upcoming blog post, we will discuss a real problem statement that could arise when creating a dashboard based on the SuperStore Sales data and design a functional layout to provide clear answers. Throughout this task, we’ll stick with a predefined set of colors to make the comparison more unbiased.

Next, we’re going to create a dashboard that would assist in data-based decision-making with each of the BI tools. We also plan to involve industry experts to learn from their experience.

A complete list of BI systems and tools to be tested in our experiment is provided below. I want to welcome everyone who is willing to help us in solving this challenge to message me on Telegram  – @valiotti. I will be glad to hear from you. Although it’s a non-profit project, it’ll be really useful for the open-source community.

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We plan to cover the following list of tools:

Free Open Source:

  • Metabase
  • Redash
  • Apache Superset
  • Dash / Plotly

Free Cloud-Based:

  • Google Studio
  • Yandex Datalens

Paid Cloud-Based:

  • Mode
  • Cluvio
  • Holistic
  • Chartio
  • Periscope
  • DeltaDNA
  • Klipfolio
  • Count.co

Paid:

  • PowerBI
  • Tableau
  • Looker
  • Excel
  • Alteryx
  • Qlik Sense
  • Qlik View

The final goal is to evaluate the BI tools against the following criteria:

  • learning curve of BI tool (1 — too hard to learn, 10 — easy)
  • tool functionality (1 — very poor functionality, 10 — multifunctional)
  • ease of use (1 — very inconvenient, 10 — super convenient)
  • compliance of the result (1 — far from the designed layout, 10 — too close to the designed layout and objective)
  • visual evaluation (1 — poor appearance, 10 — great visual appearance)

An integral weighted score for each tool will be calculated based on the internal estimates.

The results will be posted to our Telegram channel @leftjoin_en and followers will also be able to share their thoughts on the experiment.
By the end, each tool will be represented as a point in the plane, which will be divided into 4 parts.

This article will be updated with links and ratings as we new posts come out.

 No comments    112   8 mon   BI-tools   excel   looker   powerbi   redash   tableau