March 22, 2013
An apology to Tableau
Editorial revision: I have updated this blog post to correct a few inaccuracies that I referred to from Stephen Few’s post and I have removed the attack I made on Stephen himself. We should all keep in mind that what we write can have a long-lasting impact on relationships. We need to remain civil and keep our comments and thoughts to the subject, not the people.
Allow me to refer you to this great advice from “22 Things Happy People Do Differently”. In particular:
- Don’t hold grudges
- Treat everyone with kindness
- Speak well of others
- Take the time to listen
Now back to the apology.
You may think of me as a bit of a weasel now, and I’m ok with that. Other than my family, nothing has had a more profound impact on my life than Tableau Software. Simply said, I love Tableau. I have no idea where I’d be without Tableau, certainly I wouldn’t be working at Facebook, doing what I love to do every day. I literally use Tableau every single day. When I see something in the wild, I’ll often tell myself “I bet I can Tableau that.” Tableau is so integral in my life that it’s now become a verb.
With all of this in mind, I’ve had time to reflect on some things I said last week and I would like to issue an apology to Tableau. I got caught up on the emotions of Stephen Few’s post last week and I let that emotion get the best of me. I replied to Stephen’s post with some critical comments about Tableau that I believe are both honest and accurate. Obviously I must stand by what I wrote, and there are some core issues that I have, but I must reiterate what a great product Tableau is. Please, Tableau, accept my sincerest apologies.
There are a three people in particular that helped set me straight, and I thank them.
- My wife. When I told her what I wrote she reminded me of what Tableau has done for me personally and professionally. Does that mean I can’t be critical? Absolutely not. Yet I need to be a bit more thoughtful and courteous in my reactions. She’s always the angel on my shoulder.
- Jonathan Drummey. Other than Joe Mako, I don’t know anyone that knows Tableau more intimately than Jonathan. Jonathan said it best: “It's a good sign of us being emotionally involved in the topic.” I can’t think of any other software product where people are so passionate about the product. Do you ever hear such passion from MicroStrategy, Qlikview or Spotfire users? Nope. Thanks Jonathan for the reminder.
- Elissa Fink. Yes, Elissa does work for Tableau. She gave me the kick in the ass I needed when I responded to Stephen. When I got a text from her, I knew I had probably crossed a line. Elissa has had an immeasurable impact on my professional success, including inviting me to speak twice at the Tableau Customer Conference. She’s the person I call whenever I have a question because I know she’ll shoot straight with me and put me in my place when I need it. If it weren’t for Elissa, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for story telling and public speaking. I’d still be some grumpy project manager, frustrated by IT teams at Coke.
Let me clearly state that I am not upset about what I wrote. No, it was my opinion at the time.
Stephen focused on two features in particular that he believes are inappropriate for a visual analysis tool: bubble charts and tree maps. While I believe that these will get abused by those that don’t know how to use them and that I’ll have some defense to play to offset this abuse, I lost sight of all of the great new features that are coming in Tableau 8.
- Freeform dashboards – We can now do a much better job of telling stories and using space more effectively with Tableau 8. Is this implementation perfect? No. Is it better? Yes, by leaps and bounds.
- Multiple data labels – It’s always been a nuisance that you can only have one dimension or measure on that label shelf. No more! Have as many as you want.
- Significant improvements in Sets. Now you can compare things both inside and outside a set. Think Venn diagrams.
- The new Marks card allows dragging and dropping as many things as you want. The possibilities for this are endless.
There are three new features that have me particularly excited.
- Data blending – You no longer have to include the linked field in your view. This makes blending a completely seamless experience.
- Shared filters – We’ve all heard the question with version 7 and older “How do I apply a filter to only a couple of the views?” There are workarounds using action filters, but those have always seemed completely unnecessary. With Tableau 8, you can pick the worksheets you want a filter to apply to. This is HUGE!
- Web authoring – I don’t know the impact this will have quite yet, but I see this as a feature that will help organizations collaborate like they never have before.
So with this post, I hope to re-establish my love with Tableau and I hope they accept my sincerest apologies. I intended no ill will and only want the best for the product and those that work there. I consider you all part of my extended family. I have so much respect and adoration for you all. There’s no other product like Tableau on the market. If you haven’t tried Tableau, you should. It’ll change your life.