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Top 5 New Features in Tableau Desktop 2022.2

Woah, big Tableau release in mid-2022! I’m going to do a video walk-through for 2022.2 and a brief text summary below.

Walk-through video

Top 5 New Features in Tableau Desktop

1. Add Filters Object

User – “Hey could you just add this filter please”

You – “Sure, done!”

User – “Could you add another one actually”

You before 2022.2 release – “GRRRRRRRRR”

You after 2022.2 release – “I added in a button that lets you pick which filters you want from the entire data set!”

This feature is Tableau’s further move to empower users and reduce developer headache. It’s analytics on demand baby!

2. OneDrive and SharePoint Online Connector

For everyone in Big Corp®, this is a huge deal. With all the files floating around various shared OneDrive folders and SharePoint sites, you now can directly connect to these in Tableau without any extra licenses or headache.

3. Workbook Optimizer Improvements

This feature was a game changer when it was released. And it’s only getting better.

Tableau doesn’t list what was added. But they do have all of the Optimizer guidelines documented here:

4. Data Stories

It’s possible that we look back at this list in two years and we think Data Stories should have been the number one new feature. For right now, it feels like it could be big for data literacy purposes, but might be too much too soon.

5. In-product Exchange

Let’s be honest… it’s hard to keep up with all the Tableau releases and features. While Tableau Exchange was a great addition, how may people are going to separately seek it out when developing in Desktop?

Tableau read the minds of users (probably through product usage data), and now made Tableau Exchange in-product. No need to leave Tableau Desktop for access to Tableau Accelerators and Extensions.

Thanks for reading this far. Are you banging your head against a wall trying to build analytics solutions for your business? Never catching up on the backlog of projects that needed to be done yesterday? Are you struggling to assemble a full-stack data team with the resources you have available?

I run, where we provide you with a team of vetted data experts for the price of one full-time employee. Leverage our team of experts to get impactful data analytics for your business, without the headache of hiring, training, and managing a whole team yourself.

We like to say it’s like paying for a Swiss-army knife, but getting access to a shed full of tools instead. If any of what I’ve described sounds like where you’re at, book a call below.

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Top 3 New Features in Tableau Desktop 2022.1

New year, new Tableau release! I’m going to do a video walk-through for 2022.1 and a brief text summary below.

Walk-through video

Top 3 New Features in Tableau Desktop

1. Workbook Optimizer

Wondering why your workbooks aren’t performing as expected? Before this you would have to open up a PDF or web page with suggestions for designing more efficient workbooks. Then you guess at what you could do better.

For the really hardcore performance tuning, you might have even done performance recording to see what exactly is going on with hard data.

But gone are those days! Now Tableau will give you a quick breakdown of things you did well and things you can get better on.

P.S. If you’re doing performance recording, there can be significant differences between performance you see on Desktop and that same workbook’s performance when you publish to Server. If you’re experiencing this, reach out to me here.

2. Customize View Data

The old View Data window was stuck in the Windows 95 era. In 2022.1 you have much more control over that window and improved look and feel.

3. Swap with Root Table

If you’ve ever used complex data source models in Tableau with multiple relationships, you’ll know exactly why this is a big deal.

Instead of having to erase everything and start from scratch when you want to switch table position in your model, you now have the menu option to have Tableau swap that table position with root (or other tables).

Thanks for reading this far. Are you banging your head against a wall trying to build analytics solutions for your business? Are you struggling to assemble a full-stack data team with the resources you have available?

I run, where we provide you with Analytics as a Service. Leverage our team of experts to get impactful data analytics for your business, without the headache of hiring, training, and managing 3-5 people.

If your business makes between $10-50 million per year in revenue, you probably realize how critical data is to continuing your growth. Our services let you achieve that without all the associated overhead.

If any of what I’ve described sounds like where you’re at, book a call below.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for reading. Hopefully this post and video helped you understand the newer features in Tableau 2021.4. Feedback or questions? Post a comment or send me an email!

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Tableau 2021.4 top new features

Like the last time I walked through the top new features (for 2021.2), I’m going to do a video walk-through for 2021.4 and a brief text summary below.

Walk-through video

Summary of top features

Tableau Desktop and Web Editing

1. Copy and Paste in Dashboards

If you’ve been using Tableau, you’ve always scratched your head as to why this isn’t a feature. Copy and paste on Dashboards is now possible. It is only with objects that don’t contain any worksheets in them. But still, this is a huge productivity gain.

2. Edit Published Data Sources

In my opinion, one of the biggest discouragements from publishing a data source with standardized calculated fields was the difficulty in editing that data source. Well, now you can directly edit published data sources without downloading it and then republishing.

3. Tableau Exchange – Tableau Accelerators

Tableau… I mean Salesforce.. has bigger goals for Tableau. It’s clear they want to grow the marketplace of resources to make development and adoption easier.

Enter Tableau Exchange. Specifically Tableau Accelerators. These “Accelerators” are to give you basic templates to kick-start your development so you don’t have to start from zero.

It’s not a silver bullet since you still have to customize it to your data, but it’s a step in the right direction.

4. Multiple data sources in map layers

Break free from a few of the data prep complexities when building map visualizations! Now you can use multiple data source as map layers in a single worksheet.

5. New Metrics Improvements

  • You can now embed Metrics into apps, corporate portals, and webpages
  • You can now set things like the comparison period, date range, and color status indicators for each Metric

Tableau Online/Server (Specifically for Data Management Add-On)

1. Virtual Connections

In both Server and Online, you can now create and share access to tables, embed service account credentials, define data policies, and extract data centrally.

Bolded items are ones that really get me charged up.

2. Inherited Lineage Descriptions

This one feels like a further play to compete with 3rd party tools for data management. Now, everywhere a data source or workbook is used, the description will be consistent.

Tableau Prep

1. Parameters in Flows

This one is like a small seed that has the potential to sprout into a fruit-bearing, full-grown avocado tree.

You can now add some rudimentary parameters in Flows. This means you can run flows for specific inputs that are chosen at run-time.

If you’re familiar with Alteryx, this is a feature they have for both local and Alteryx Server apps. It allows users to run customized reports based on choices or data they enter before the flow is run.

While Tableau has a very basic implementation of parameters, I expect the functionality to converge with parameter features that exist in Desktop. So things like setting parameter options to the unique values of a field (like the data set’s date range).

Thanks for reading this far. I run, a consultancy that empowers businesses with automation and data.

If you’re frustrated or overwhelmed with your daily processes and feel like you’re not getting the most out of your analytics investment, reach out to us.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for reading. Hopefully this post and video helped you understand the newer features in Tableau 2021.4. Feedback or questions? Post a comment or send me an email!

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Game-changing features in Tableau Online 2021.2

I’m going to try a little different format for this post. Instead of mostly text, I did a walk-through video of the new features. There’s still a summary of the best new Tableau Online features in 2021.2 below, and some additional information I didn’t cover in the video.

Walk-through video

Summary of top features

1. Ask Data

There is a powerful new concept called a Lens for Ask Data now. It’s a configurable “view” of Ask Data that limits fields and permissions for the Ask Data Lens. You can also embed an Ask Data Lens into your dashboards now.

Last cool thing with Ask Data is that Viewers can now use it. That’s a big bonus.

Check out more info on Lenses here:

2. Explain Data

Explain Data is now available for Viewers (just like Ask Data). Don’t forget that Explain Data has to be enabled for each dashboard you publish so that Tableau Online users can utilize it.

3. Collections

Content navigation is always a challenge. There’s new content every day inside and outside of your company. It’s no different with Tableau content. Tableau has slowly added content curation abilities over the years. Now it’s gone full curation mode.

Collections allow you to add Tableau objects (workbooks, data sources, lenses, etc.) all in one place and control the audience. That means you can make private or public collections that hold content across any project on your site.

Before you were limited to favorites, projects, etc. This is a big step forward for personalized and targeted content.

4. Immediate transition button from Web Edit to Tableau Desktop

Ever want to make a quick fix in web authoring, only to realize that you need some of the additional features Tableau Desktop has in order to get it done? Well now, it’s as easy as a click of a button to open that workbook in Tableau Desktop.

No more downloading, going to your downloads folder, then opening the workbook.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for reading. Hopefully this post and video helped you understand the newer features in Tableau Online 2021.2. Feedback or questions? Post a comment or send me an email!

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The hardest part about making dashboards for Tableau Public

Tableau Public is great. It’s a free option for data visualization developers to publish their Tableau work for the world to see. No matter if you’re a fresh, new developer or a seasoned expert.

Publishing to Tableau Public is great because it does a few things:

  • Let’s you work on you Tableau skills at home without spending $$$ on licenses
  • Gives you a community to participate in
  • Is a great way to help share and learn best practices and tips & tricks
  • Helps build a portfolio for potential employers or customers

I publish to Tableau Public every so often. Oftentimes I’ll share my works to LinkedIn and/or Reddit to get feedback and hopefully give new insights to viewers across the world. Doing this has often reminded me of a very important fact.

Feedback is a critical part of development.

This doesn’t just apply to Tableau Public. It applies to nearly all work. You need your alone time to brainstorm, develop, tinker, and fail. But you also need some sort of collaboration and feedback in order to make the best version of your product.

That’s why the lack of feedback while developing for Tableau Public can make development difficult. In an ideal development world, you get a few rounds of feedback. Without these iterations of feedback, development can be like a brutal empathy exercise. Trying to figure out what the opinions and thoughts of the end users without actually ever talking to them! Let’s break this down.

Challenges of feedback

  1. Knowing how often and when to get feedback.
  2. Finding experienced, truthful and knowledgable people to provide feedback.
  3. Understanding which recommendations to ignore and which ones to take action on. Experience helps with this one, but so does finding a great person for point 2 above.

Some ideas on how to establish a feedback loop for Tableau Public projects

Getting some sort of feedback loop can bring your dashboards to the next level. A great part of Tableau Public is that you can always open a dashboard you’ve published, edit it, and republish with the changes. I do this all the time when I want to make changes or test how something renders on different devices (**cough** **cough** fonts). So how can we establish a feedback loop so we can take advantage of this editing capability?

  • Get your spouse/roommate/friend/coworker to review your dashboard. Find out what they found hard to understand, if it was easy to use, and what they liked/didn’t like about the visual aspect. In person is great, at lunch is great, over video chat is great, any time and place it great! Just make sure your dashboard is configured for mobile if you’re doing it on the go.
  • Have regular chats with a mentor. If that mentor has Tableau experience, that’s awesome. But they don’t have to! A thoughtful mentor can give valuable insights regardless of their background. If you’re looking for a mentor, reach out to me. If you’re looking to mentor someone, also reach out to me (we all need mentors)!
  • Post your work publicly and ask for critique. This one you have to be careful with! Random internet strangers can be hit or miss. Some will type out “criticisms” without much thought or understanding. These should be ignored. But smaller communities and communities of respected colleagues, feedback can be invaluable. Think of places like LinkedIn, Meetups, small Facebook groups, etc.

Here’s my ideal feedback cycle (when to get feedback)

The first round of feedback is before you even start. It’s talking and asking questions with your target audience in order to nail down the KPIs, metrics, or business questions you want to answer with your work.

The second round is ideally after you’ve completed several mockups/potential solutions. Your target audience tells you what they like, what isn’t clear enough or useful, and you can gauge whether the audience is actually seeking what they’re asking for. (or really something tangentially related instead).

The third round would be after building the narrowed-down solution from the second round of feedback. In short, this is a post-beta version feedback round.

In the final round, this is where the least amount of changes would be requested and honored. At this point things should be pretty close to the desired outcome. Small changes might be done, but nothing drastic. If drastic changes are requested, then this is truly a new project and should be treated as one. That’s when you start back at round 1!

That’s it, thanks for reading!

Meta Tableau

Some awesome new features announced at Tableau Conference-ish 2020

This post will be relatively short. There were a few announcements at Tableau Conference-ish over the first couple days that are a huge deal for Tableau Desktop developers. These new feature announcements are certainly not exhaustive but are in my opinion, the highest impact.

Big map changes

Unlimited map layers

This means you aren’t limited to a single analysis that depends on size and/or color of map marks. This really opens up the number of options developers have in creating impactful and insightful maps.

This new feature might raise the question; how can you have multiple layers and a good user experience due to Tableau’s standard interactivity on worksheet?

You can now disable selections on maps

No more inadvertent highlighting and unwanted interactivity. Turn off selections in maps in order to provide a better user experience. This will greatly improve mobile UX due to the tapping and scrolling nature of mobile devices. This will avoid some common frustrations associated with the maps UX.

Reorder layers

With multiple layers, you’ll want to be able to control which one appears on the top. Tableau will be providing an easy way to drag and reorder map layers so that the desired layer order can be achieved.

Not map related, but probably the biggest news for beginner and intermediate developers: Tableau Desktop will write your LoDs

You read that right! If you’ve had trouble building level of detail calculations, Tableau is going to help out with that. You’ll be able to select dimensions and measures by holding control, right click, and click on “Create Level of Detail Calculation”. For more complex LOD calculations, this won’t be too big of a deal. But for people struggling to build these calculations, this functionality might bridge the gap between knowing about LODs and understanding LODs.

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Top 5 Most Impactful Tableau Server 2020.3 Features

Recently I made a post on the 5 most impactful Tableau Desktop features released in 2020.3. Now it’s time for Tableau Server! Tableau released 20 new features for Tableau Server. Most of these features are also applicable to Tableau Online as well (if you were wondering). This post will go over the 5 features that will have the most impact on both developers and users interacting with Tableau Server. I’ve ranked them in the order of the biggest impact for users or developers based on the size of the problem the feature solves.

Keep in mind, Tableau categorizes some of its new features in multiple categories (like Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server for the IN operator). I’ve not included features I covered already in my Tableau Desktop 2020.3 post, so go take a look if you’re curious what those are. This makes sense because features aren’t made in a bubble usually, and will have an impact on other parts of the Tableau stack. It just might be a little confusing at first if you aren’t aware of the interactions between the different Tableau pieces.

1. “Shared with me” tab

Navigation on Tableau Server and Tableau Online can be frustrating at times. The UX has significantly improved over the years and this new feature is another giant leap forward. Now there is a dedicated tab on the left navigation bar that lets you see all materials shared with you on the site (including views). This is kind of like Google Drive and streamlines navigation to critical content.

Why it’s important: Better navigation for both experienced and novice Tableau Server users.

Screenshot from

2. Grant license on sign-on

If you haven’t been a Server admin, it’ll be difficult to appreciate this one. If you have been one (especially of a large organization), get the champagne ready. Now you can set up your Server to have specific users, teams or departments to automatically be assigned a license on first login.

Why it’s important: Thousands of users? A revolving door of users? No problem, automatic license assignment for first sign-ons. Thousands of man hours saved.

3. Web authoring improvements

The new features include relative date filters, and creating/editing/removing data source and viz filters in the browser.

Tableau continues its alignment with modern tools by beefing up its web authoring capabilities. It’s still a far cry from Tableau Desktop, but the gap is shrinking (slowly). More and more customers are looking towards web authoring rather than full Desktop licenses, and this will make those customers happy.

Why it’s important: For anyone trying to do more than the very basic visualization, web authoring is a no-go with its limited feature set. These new capabilities raise the limitation ceiling ever so slightly.

4. Subscription timing with extracts

The subscriptions feature has been one of the most popular features I’ve introduced to clients utilizing Tableau Server and Tableau Online. People are used to seeing things in their inbox on a regular basis, and they always want the same capabilities with their dashboards. A constant challenge is making sure that data refreshes and subscription emails sync up correctly. Subscriptions that trigger too early means stale data for end users.

This new feature from Tableau enables subscriptions to only trigger once data is done refreshing. No more worrying whether timing is right.

Why it’s important: The more extracts and users you have, the more performance will vary for when extracts actually finish. By making subscriptions have a type of sequential firing option that only happens after extracts complete, the guesswork is removed.

5. New connectors in the extension gallery

While this might not be applicable to too many people at the moment, it’s an important feature trend. Tableau is expanding its extension gallery to include connectors made by third parties. This will slowly minimize the effort of connecting to data for analysis.

Like Zapier or similiar tools, opening the platform to support third party extensions will only grow adoption and options for developers.

Why it’s important: If you’ve ever run into a data source that doesn’t have an out of the box connector in Tableau, it can be a decent amount of extra work to get everything working right.

What are your thoughts on the new releases in Tableau 2020.3 Server and Online? Do you think Tableau is on the right path in their development efforts? The company continues to actively seek user feedback and has been implementing the most requested features. What would you like to see improved next?

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Top 5 Most Impactful Tableau Desktop 2020.3 Features

Tableau released 2020.3 on August 12th, 2020 with 12 new features for Tableau Desktop. All are useful, but these are the 5 that will have the most impact on developers’ workflow and capabilities in my opinion when creating dashboards. I’ve ranked them in the order of the biggest impact for developers and the challenges or questions they face frequently.

1. The IN operator for calculations

Ever do giant IF or CASE statements with nested CONTAINS? Well your life just got a little easier. You can now use the IN operator to compare a field to a list of values.

Why it’s important: Easier readability, shorter and more efficient calculations.

2. Search improvements in the data pane

With the new Relationships features and data modeling capabilities, the data pane had to be redesigned to allow for multiple tables. This removed the separation in the pane between dimensions and measures. That was quite a shock to many Tableau users as it was an efficient way to separate those field types. In 2020.3, there is now the ability to filter your fields in the data pane by field name, type, or comments. It still feels like a compromise but after a few weeks of use, it probably won’t even be a noticeable difference from the original data pane.

Why it’s important: The new data pane to handle Relationships felt like a step back. This is a step forward in making the data pane easy to use again.

3. Relationship improvements

If you’ve jumped into the new Relationships feature earlier in 2020, you’ll quickly realize its powers, and quickly realize its (few) shortcomings. One of these shortcoming has been fixed in 2020.3. You’ll now be able to relate tables using calculated fields and/or using inequality operators (like <>).

Why it’s important: Running into the serious limitations of operators or calculated fields in earlier versions minimized the usefulness of Relationships. These improvements significantly expanded Relationships use cases again.

4. Predictive modeling functions

I really wanted to put this one higher, but ultimately most developers still won’t get into predictive modeling. I’d highly recommend adding general predictive modeling skills to your toolbox with something like Python, but ultimately predictive modeling inside Tableau will be great as well.

Why it’s important: Making the leap from descriptive to predictive and prescriptive analytics provides huge value to your users and customers. This new feature makes the gap between descriptive and predictive much smaller to bridge.

5. Additional viz export capabilities

Users are always requesting various ways to export dashboards and their underlying data. Back in the day, strange hacks and/or extensions would have to be used to provide the desired output. With 2020.3, you’ll be able to export crosstabs from dashboards into Excel formats to preserve formatting, provide easy export buttons for this feature, and customize PDF subscription layouts for your dashboards.

Why it’s important: This new feature expands the export capabilities, showing that Tableau is still focused on improving some of the most frequent end user requests.

What are your thoughts on the new releases in Tableau 2020.3? Do you think Tableau is on the right path in their development efforts? The company continues to actively seek user feedback and has been implementing the most requested features. What would you like to see improved next?

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How Are Your (Tableau) Relationships?

Not your personal relationships! Although I do hope those are going well for you. I’m talking about Tableau Desktop’s new feature in 2020.2. This is an important one. For both experienced data analysts/scientists and new beginners. The implications of this new feature will impact the fate of the world (ok maybe not that extreme). But it will absolutely impact beginner’s needs to learn overall data concepts and also the explicit control that expert users are used to holding.

If you’re on version 2020.2 or above (for my future readers), you’ll notice the data pane has changed slightly. This is actually to accommodate the new relationships feature. If you’re not using the relationships feature, this will be an annoying change. But if you are using relationships, joins, or custom SQL, it’s the most sensible way Tableau could’ve organized the data pane now that there are multiple tables in a data source.

What Are Relationships?

According to the Tableau website:

Relationships are an easy, flexible way to combine data from multiple tables for analysis.

Let’s unpack this a bit. Tableau says flexible, and it absolutely, positively means flexible. You can add multiple fields to a relationship, multiple relationships between tables, select cardinality and referential integrity of each table, and more. This is all to give the developer an easy path towards correct levels of details in your dashboards and easily designed data models.

P.s. I’ll need to make multiple posts about this topic as Relationships turn out to be a pretty deep feature in terms of configuration and the downstream impacts.

The Big Benefits

  • Tableau now can handle multiple levels of detail in one data source.
  • No accidental data loss (although you could have accidental data hiding).
  • Relations between multiple fact tables is now possible.
  • Contextual and dynamic (!!!!) joins.
  • Aggregations are correctly generated by Tableau based on the relationship.
  • Better performance since queries will only get data that is relevant to the current view.

The Big Drawbacks

  • No circular relationships in your data model.
  • No inequality relationships.
  • Calculated fields can’t be used for relationships.
  • Published data sources are (still) not able to be used for any data modeling.
  • Data types are taken from the underlying database, and relationships won’t work with mismatched types. Changing the data type in Tableau has no impact on whether a relationship can be made.
  • There are 8 rules or semantics that developers need to know about now when developing.

Things to Watch Out For

In my opinion, some concerning problems with data sources surface with this new feature. Things that would normally be discovered without the relationships feature are pushed further under the rug. Here are some of them.

  • Bad data models (or no data models at all) with dirty data can make relationships not perform as expected.
  • Data source filters negatively impact performance in some cases. This is due to how Tableau removes unnecessary joins usually in queries.
  • Poor choices for relationship fields won’t return quality data. If the fields chosen don’t have a lot of matching values, your dashboard probably won’t be too useful.
  • The additional semantics involved with relationships are something that need to be internalized by developers. Otherwise inaccurate visualizations might be presented.

Wrapping It Up

Tableau has knocked it out of the park with this one. But with great power comes great responsibility. The relationships feature vastly expands the possibilities and ease of analyses that use multiple tables. Relationships take care of some common areas in which beginner developers tend to make mistakes. Which can be a good thing and a bad thing.

If you understand relationships, they can be a great tool. If you think you understand relationships (but really don’t) or you just use them without researching their behavior, you might be in for a world of hurt. I’d say, improve your relationship with relationships and your Tableau life will blossom.

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My Top Upcoming Tableau Features in 2020

Have you ever seen the Tableau Coming Soon page? If not, you should check it out. It gives you a good idea of where Tableau is focusing their efforts and the direction of the platform. As someone who works with many products within Tableau’s platform, here are my top upcoming features. These are the features that I think will have the most impact on what a developer can do in Tableau!

1. IN operator for calculations

Tableau seems to be closing the gap that exists between its existing functions and what is available in Excel and a few programming languages. It’s still missing a few things (check out number 2 and 3 on this post I made earlier), but it’s getting better.

2. Search improvements in the Data pane

With the new relationships feature in Tableau Desktop, the data pane has changed slightly to accommodate how those relationships interact with the dashboard . There is no longer separate windows for Dimensions and Measures, which can be quite the shock for those who have used Tableau for several years or more. It looks like Tableau will be reaching a middle ground though. They’ll be keeping the changes to the data pane, but adding filters to search.

3. Web authoring improvements

For those who do their authoring on the web, you might have run into some limitations compared to Tableau Desktop. There are some big game changers coming though. Say hello to data source and viz filters, a big improvement for those looking to build more functional dashboards without leaving the web.

4. Stale content management

Do you have a large deployment? A bunch of sites and data sources? Data management is one of the top pain points for organizations. Entropy is always increasing and this stale content feature will help fight wasted space and mess on your server.

5. JavaScript API updates

As Tableau usage has grown, different users have appeared and increased their voice. As business usage grows with Tableau and organizations look to sell dashboards externally, software developers become more and more involved. Look for some big changes with many of the APIs, allowing for greater customization in look and behavior.

6. Tableau Bridge improvements

This really depends on your deployment and use cases. Tableau Bridge is getting a boost to access VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) data. Think AWS, Redshift, Snowflake, etc. that can only be accessed within a private network.

7. Data Quality Warnings

If you’ve ever developed a dashboard with an old data source, the pain of finding out that it’s no longer relevant makes this upcoming feature your dream-come-true. Users will be able to see data quality warning in Tableau Desktop with a little warning symbol.

8. External Assets list

Ever wonder what was being uploaded in packaged workbooks? If your user checks the “Include External Files” option when publishing to server, those files will now be visible in one list.

Tableau is still implementing ideas from the community at a steady pace. As long as they keep building the most asked-for features alongside the new products that grow their company, they’ll be in good shape. As soon as all of the new features are clearly driven around increasing the bottom line rather than considering the biggest user headaches, that’ll mark the peak of Tableau. For now though, it’s smooth sailing!