Tableau 9.0 is coming!  The Beta testing program has been in full swing since early January, so we should be expecting the full production release very soon.  Acumen Analytics has been a Tableau Beta Testing partner since 2011, and we are proud to be participating in this program again for the version 9.0 Beta release cycle and production rollout.  New Beta releases have been arriving every week or so, and here at Acumen we’re very excited about many of the brand new features which will debut in 9.0, along with an impressive collection of enhancements and refinements to many of our Tableau favorites.   With the release of Beta 4 a few days ago, things seem to be really coming together, so I thought we’d take a moment to give you a sneak-peek at some of the goodies you can expect to find when the production release arrives.

Desktop:

  • Re-designed Home/Start screen: Right out of the gate you’ll see a new look and feel to the interface when you launch Tableau Desktop.  It’s not a dramatic change, but along with a more pleasant appearance, Tableau has added some subtle features and enhancements to make things a little more organized and allow quicker, more intuitive access to many of your most common selections.
    • Tableau logo button Quickly toggle from your most recent viz to the Home screen.
    • Connect Sidebar Quick links to common data connections
    • Discover panel Links to external Tableau resources
  • Updated ‘Connect to Data’ Interface: At first glance things will look very familiar here to users of version 8, but you will find a few nice additions which will make your data connection workflow quicker and easier to manage:
    • Navigator Tabs At the bottom left, you’ll find new ‘Data Source’ and ‘Sheet’ tabs which allow you to quickly toggle between your worksheets and the Data Source screens so you can make changes to your data source connections and immediately toggle between them and your worksheets without the need to delve into any drop-down menus.  There are also buttons to immediately add new Sheets, Dashboards, or Stories right from the Connect to Data interface.
    • Manage Metadata Tab One of my favorite new features. This tool allows you to view each Field’s metadata and compare it side-by-side as it appears in your original data source, and in Tableau.  You can also make edits directly on this screen – sweet!  Can’t remember what the original SQL column for that renamed field was called?  Not a problem, just pop this view open and all the information is right there.

 

  • New Features and Enhancements to Data Prep functionality We all know that getting your data prepped and formatted correctly is often 90% of the battle in terms of being able to deliver useful, functional, and reliable views and visualizations.  To that end, it looks like Tableau has spent some significant time trying to provide some advanced tools and functionality to make that part of the job a little faster and easier.
  • Statistics and Calculations The Calculated Field editor has been updated with some handy new features and enhancements
    • Auto Complete – Finally!! Yes, Tableau now joins most other mature data platforms by providing some auto-complete functionality which should make selecting calculation elements easier and should hopefully provide enough help to make syntax editing choices a LOT less frustrating
    • Type-In Pills – This is a clever little feature that allows you to type some simple/common calculation edits directly into the Field Pills right on the worksheet Row or Column shelves. For example, if you want that Customer ID field to be a count distinct, just type “COUNTD” right into the pill and you’re done.  No need to go to the add table calc dropdowns or open the Calc editor.  Cool!
    • Level of Detail Calculations – This one is a winner! It would take the better part of an entire blog post to get into this topic properly, but the short version of the story is that this feature allows you to create individual calculations at a specific level of detail for a particular field without affecting the way that field appears in the rest of your view.  This ability really opens up a whole new host of options for adding all sorts of comparisons within a single view or graph that were previously very complicated, behaved in unintended ways  or were just not feasible.  We’ll explore this one in depth in a future post.  For more info check out Bora Beran’s excellent summary here: https://boraberan.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/whats-new-in-tableau-9-0-part-2-level-of-detail-expressions/

Also have a look at Alan Eldridge’s 3-part in depth overview here: http://blog.databender.net/2015/01/22/understanding-level-of-detail-expressions-part-1/

  • Analytics Tab Tableau has added an ‘Analytics Tab’ right next to the Data sidebar in the main Worksheet view.  This allows you to quickly select a number of common analysis functions like  Reference Lines, Averages, Medians, Trend Lines and Forecast models.
    • Drag & Drop Analytics – select an analysis type, drop it on your view
    • Instant Analytics – select groups of data points within a view and instantly run comparisons against other data sets.

 

  • Map View Enhancements
    • Search – Yeah!! A very handy and powerful Search dialog has been added to Map views so that users can search within a map for specific data.  This includes auto-zoom and auto-locate so that selecting search results will navigate you directly to your selection’s geographic location.
    • Place prominence algorithms: Search results are weighted to reflect the most likely results first based on a location’s size, proximity, population, etc.
    • Existing Data preference: Places for which data points exist within your viz are also given more preference in search results.
  • Radial and Lasso selector tools: Some more flexible tools for selecting and grouping data within a viz…you’re not stuck using just the basic rectangle selector anymore if your data points don’t happen to all reside within a nice neat contiguous rectangular box.  Hmm…why didn’t we think of this before?
  • Thumbnail Previews Hovering over Tabs and View names will now show a detailed thumbnail of that element, so that mysterious ‘New View 3’ you forgot to re-name can be easily located and identified as you scroll through a Workbook or assemble a Dashboard or Story
    • Worksheets/Workbooks
    • Dashboards
    • Stories

Server:

  • New Admin Views Tableau has completely redesigned the Server Administrative views to give Server Admins much greater visibility and access to a variety of Server processes and functions.
  • Data Engine Query performance improvements:
  • REST API
    • Tableau 9.0 extends the REST API functionality introduced in 8.2 with additional features for managing Groups, publishing, permission management and Data Source updates.
    • Check out the Tableau Love post for this topic here: http://tableaulove.tumblr.com/search/REST+API
  • Tableau SDK The Extract API is now packaged with a new Server API in what is being called the “Tableau Software Development Kit”.
    • Works on Windows, Mac & Linux, with support for Java, C++ and Python.
  • High Availability
    • Per Tableau: “This is a redesign of our Tableau Server High Availability offering. Offers more robust failover detection, increased protection against split-brain scenarios, and a host of other improvements.”
  • New Permissions management interface Yeah!!  Visually responsive graphical interface which allows admins to immediately view and manage permission levels in a clear concise format.
  • Updated Tableau Server Connection Experience Per Tableau’s release literature:

“When you use Tableau Desktop to connect to a data source on Tableau Server, you can preview the data source in both the data and metadata grids for an easy way to explore and understand the data and columns in various sources. There are also new submenus for Tableau data server, so you can re-­‐target your server without leaving your view.”

 

Mobile:

  • Project Elastic: Tableau’s vision for the mobile app – visualizations optimized for touch-based interaction.  The release for this is as yet unannounced, but see below for Tableau’s Elastic project page, description and the video demonstration from TCC 2014.

“Project Elastic is a new way to explore data on your tablet. Take those giant tables of numbers and transform them into interactive graphs. Swipe, pinch and zoom to find insights in that spreadsheet email attachment. Bounce between different charts with that dataset in your cloud box/drive/storage thing.

You’ve got a tablet. You’ve got data. Now you’ve got answers too.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zJga9xumtc

 

OK – well, so much for a ‘quick’ summary of what’s coming in the Tableau 9.0 release! With so many additions and updated elements, we’ve barely scratched the surface.  We’re certainly having fun here at Acumen-Analytics exploring all these new tools and features, and imagining even more ways to turn data into Insights.  Check back often for deeper explorations of many of these new Tableau features as the production release nears, along with many other adventures from the world of data visualization.

We’ll talk to you soon!