As we get ready to release Tableau 8.0, we would like to share the vision behind our product direction. Our company’s mission, “to help people see and understand data,” has been at the heart of Tableau’s product direction since our founding. Our mission is articulated in detail on our mission page.
This version includes over 90 new features supporting this mission. Learn more in our Tableau 8.0 Feature Overview.
A big part of our vision is empowering people to answer their own questions from data, whether they are a doctor, scientist, video game designer, business analyst, or executive. To do this we need to develop products that don’t require expertise in SQL, statistics, graphic design, perception, or visualization. We work to build this expertise into our products for you.
The Process of Visual Analysis
To support the natural process of thinking with data, we believe our products need to allow people to incrementally construct a wide-range of visual representations and easily move between them to find just the right perspective. It is this focus on the process of analysis that led us to invent our core technology, VizQL, a language that lets people query databases just by composing drag and drop pictures of what they want to see.
At the high-level, this is our vision: To build products that are simple enough to be used by everyone but analytically rich enough to support sophisticated analysis.
We’re excited to release Tableau 8.0. With 90+ new features put to the test in real world conditions by over 3,900 beta participants, it represents our biggest effort to date to materialize this mission. We have invested in five major themes:
- Web and mobile authoring. Creative people need to be able to answer questions of their data wherever they are. In 8.0, we’re introducing Web and mobile authoring that lets you answer questions interactively using nothing but a web browser or a tablet.
- Advancement to visual analytics. We’ve added forecasting, cohort analysis, and set manipulation to give people new ways to discover patterns and make comparisons. And, we’ve extended the set of possible views you can create in Tableau. These include stacked views (like stem-and-leaf plots), treemaps, bubble charts, and word clouds. Some of these views are controversial and should be used sparingly.
- Access to new data sources. A big part of answering questions with data is access. We’ve added access to cloud sources such as Google Analytics and Salesforce.com. We’re supporting more big data sources out of the box: Cloudera Impala, DataStax Enterprise, Hadapt, Hortonworks Hadoop Hive, SAP HANA, and Amazon Redshift. We also introduced an API that allows programmers to load data from anywhere into Tableau.
- Fast performance. As data grows in size and complexity, people want to see more data and more details. Fueled by a new rendering engine, Tableau’s breakthrough unification of computer graphics and databases is faster than ever before. The new engine renders data by leveraging the graphics hardware acceleration available on ordinary computers. On the web, Tableau Server now dynamically determines where rendering will complete faster – on the server or in the browser – and acts accordingly. Dashboards now render views in parallel when possible.
Of course we didn’t get to everything. Every time we release a new version of our products, our development team wishes we had more time and resources. We welcome criticisms and ideas for our products, because that input helps us plan future releases. In fact, right now, our development team is planning for Tableau 9.0 and beyond.
The Road Ahead
We have an ambitious and exciting agenda. Our plan will push forward our mission by investing in several areas:
- Total access to data. People need a single application that can easily connect to all of their data sources and perform all aspects of data preparation and analysis. Our forward roadmap includes investments ranging from increased connectivity, breakthroughs in direct query of large databases, rapid-fire data transformations, and easy-to-use data integration.
- Visual analytics everywhere. Our customers are creative people. They start their day at a desktop and then transition to a laptop as they move to a coffee shop in the afternoon. They need easy-to-use analytics on all their devices and all their operating systems. Our forward roadmap will include Tableau on a Mac. It will also include Tableau as a pure Cloud offering.
- Analytics and statistics for everyone. Effective data analysis is difficult. There are many effective techniques such as aggregation, binning data, and regression analysis. But these techniques are complex and often only accessible to deeply trained people. We are investing in making statistical & analytical techniques accessible and usable by everyone.
- Storytelling and collaboration. Stories have been an effective means of communicating information over many thousands of years, and our brains are eager to find, tell, and remember stories. But a visualization alone does not tell a story. Our forward plans will include features that support constructing visual narratives and effective communication of ideas.
- Enterprise + scale + performance. Features to make our product function effectively in very large or enterprise-scale deployments will continue to be critical. Tableau Server will continue to scale to even larger data sizes and ever larger user communities. And we will continue to advance our enterprise integration and administrative capabilities.
In addition to investing in big ideas like the above, we will continue to make investments in making it easy to acquire, install, deploy, and use our products in mission-critical use cases. We will also continue to invest to preserve our core product development values of ease of use, simplicity, beauty, and speed.
As usual, we invite and want your input; feel free to comment on this blog, share your thoughts in the Ideas section of our Community website, or talk to your account manager.
-Chris Stolte and Pat Hanrahan