By Niels Hoven July 20, 2009

It's impressive that over half the attendees in this session are already using Tableau’s maps. Given that Tableau automatically finds geo fields in your data such as country, state, and zip codes, it’s no wonder maps are a popular feature. In the Tableau interface geo fields are highlighted with a globe icon next to the field name for easy reference.

To demonstrate just how easy it is to map data, Ellie Fields, Director of Product Marketing, decided to map the conference attendees. Just by selecting the country field, Tableau automatically suggested using a map. It was fun to see the distribution but even more interesting to see it at a fine, zip code level. From there you can zoom in and out to focus on a particular area of interest.
Showing an actual customer application of the mapping feature, Brandon O’Brien, Professional Services for Chockstone, demonstrated how he has mapped Subway’s loyalty program. From there, you can quickly see the penetration across the U.S. It was fascinating to see the contrast between rural and urban areas.
And now for the fun part: How to create map “wizardry.” By that, Ellie means creating maps that are feature rich and loaded with information. One of the most helpful features is overlaying data layers such as population distribution to understand your data by rural or urban areas. The cool feature that got the attendees attention was creating a time-lapsed animation of data changing over time. Finally, bring your maps into your dashboards alongside other related data to tell the complete story.
There are more mapping resources on the Tableau site. It was a super fun session! The audience was very engaged.