Tableau 5.0 Preview

In Tableau 5.0, our passion to create interactive and beautiful visualization has taken us to a new level. We’ve given you more ways to answer questions with your data and more tools for sharing it. And we’ve added a dash of the joy we feel when customers say they love our stuff. Over the next two months we’ll provide a sneak peek of the 5.0 release in this blog.

In fact, to make Tableau 5.0 come to life, we’ve made our visualizations interactive by using a new test version of Tableau Server. (To get more info on this test, click on the Tableau logo in each visualization.)

The first thing we hope you’ll notice about Tableau 5.0 is its new visual treatment of selected data. When you select data it really pops out of the page, while the other data points retreat into the background. Now you’re able to highlight your selection and related data without losing the context of the overall data set.

Perhaps I want to look at high-value sales. I can simply select these points at the top of my graph, which helps me notice that large sales increase at the end of the year as customers make final budget decisions.

New Visual Selection Model

Selection is a very difficult problem to solve in software interfaces. And when understanding data is the task at hand, it’s even trickier. Think about it. If you turn everything red (like we do in our previous versions), you make the mistake of interfering with any color scheme that has red. Using red as a selector can even imply that the selected point is undesirable, given that red often means “stop” or “bad.” If you turn everything yellow, mimicking a highlighting marker, you make the mistake of interfering with any color scheme that uses yellow.

So we came upon the idea of fading out the non-selected points, but letting them retain their color. This approach has the following advantages:

  • Both the selected and the non-selected points retain their color, providing useful information
  • Selected points are no longer confused with red data encodings or “stop” messages
  • The selection model has consistent behavior across graph types and color schemes

  • The effect is not only more useful, but also more beautiful.
  • Development Themes in Tableau 5.0

    The visual selection model is just an appetizer. There are dozens of new features in Tableau 5.0! Most of them fall under four major themes:

    • Active views and dashboards to help you focus on your data while highlighting and filtering related data
    • Authoring interactive experiences with guided analytic workflows
    • Working with data anywhere, faster to make your analytic experiences sing
    • Supporting large Tableau Server deployments with thousands of users
    As with everything Tableau builds, you don’t need to be a programmer, data jockey, or system administrator to use the new features. They’re all just a few mouse clicks away.

    Now we’ll look at one of the authoring features that we call relative date filters.

    Sweet Time Series Analysis

    Asking questions about time is one of the most common things our customers do. In Tableau 5, we’ve added relative date filters to make that much easier.

    First we added relative time views in a quickfilter, so you can change the date range with just one click. Now you can author web experiences like you see on Google Finance: your audience can just click a date period to see the new date range instantly.

    Select a date range and stocks to include on the right:

    We’ve done lots more with filters, but that’s a taste of what’s coming. Let us know what you think in the comments, and come back to this blog every week for more previews of Tableau Software 5.0. In my next post we’ll look at the Active Dashboards theme: features that help you explore and highlight relationships in your data.

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