Getting Started with Tableau Public

This semester has been a whirlwind already, and a lot of the programming we’ve been doing in the libraries has focused on data visualization. I’ve recently published a new Data Visualization research guide, hosted an Intro to Data Viz workshop, and tried to generate some buzz around data management and analysis with some fun activities for Love Data Week. Amid all the brown-bags and workshops Heidi and I have been organizing, I’ve enjoyed taking some time to put together a tutorial for folks who are totally new to using Tableau for data viz.

Tableau Public – the free version of the software – has incredibly powerful capabilities for quickly and easily making custom visualizations. It also lets you pull multiple maps and charts together into a dashboard, or interactive infographic, that you can share online or embed in a webpage, as you’ll see below. (I also managed to sneak some data wrangling into the tutorial, and honestly I’m really pleased with Tableau’s ability to join and pivot datasets, now that I’ve had an excuse to experiment more with the software.)

Back in January, Miriam Posner tweeted a link to a short tutorial she put together for her class, to get them started with Tableau Public. We’d been planning to host a library workshop this Spring introducing folks to Tableau and the basics of creating solid infographics, and I loved the way she organized her tutorial. So I forked it on GitHub and got started on my own version: Getting Started with Tableau Public.

It’s always challenging to find the right balance between including enough screen-captures to make a tutorial easy enough to follow, and keeping it short enough for someone to work through in one sitting. Ultimately, I wanted to create a resource that participants in our upcoming Infographics Basics with Tableau workshop could use to follow along during the workshop, but one that would also allow folks to come back later and re-visit the steps we took together while they’re working on their own.

To support these dual purposes, the tutorial ended up being on the longer side, as it includes enough details for someone who hasn’t attended a workshop or worked with Tableau before to get started, walking through all the steps of importing data, understanding data types, creating visualizations, and combining them into dashboards for sharing online.

The finished dashboard from the tutorial is shown below!