Great news for those of you who are into analytical mapping. Today, Tableau Software released version 4.1 which offers many new enhancements including the ability to use WMS (Web Map Service) map images as background maps for your data visualizations in Tableau Desktop. I personally like some of the satellite maps we've found. 4.1 also offers other enhancements, including Server performance improvements and Active Directory improvements.
Tableau 4.1 adds WMS
support so you can retrieve custom maps
from your own WMS servers. While the
Tableau online and offline maps were
carefully designed to display data effectively
and beautifully for all kinds of data, the
WMS support allows you to use Tableau with
specialized maps that are custom to your
As an example, here's a visualization using publicly available data about donations to the major presidential campaigns. You can see a pattern where Obama has much deeper financial support on the West Coast while McCain has more deeply penetrated areas throughout the central parts of the country. I put this ZIP level "dot density" map on top of a satellite image from the WMS Server at the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). The WMS address that you would use in Tableau Desktop is "http://clearinghouse1.fgdc.gov/scripts/ogc/ms.pl".
Created by the Open Geospatial Consortium,
WMS is an international standard for how
maps can be dynamically retrieved from
servers. Tableau supports servers that have
implemented the WMS 1.1.1 specification.
There are some public WMS
servers available as well as a number of WMS-enabled
server products your organization
may already have such as software from ESRI,
MapInfo, or others.
You can download a quick start guide with step-by-step instructions for using a WMS server in
Tableau 4.1. Also, check out the Wikipedia entry on WMS; you'll find more information and links there.
Server Performance Improvements
Many customers using Tableau Server will see
performance improvements with the Tableau
4.1 upgrade. Specifically pages may load faster
when requesting a view. In addition, the server
has improved data caching, which increases
responsiveness during interactive sessions.
Refresh the data cache at any time to reload
from the underlying data source.
Single Logon for Multiple Sheets
Tableau Desktop now only asks you to logon
to each database one time per workbook. The
username and password provided are reused
for each sheet that connects to the same server
and database. For example, a workbook with
three sheets, each connecting to different
tables in the same database, will now only
prompt you to login once instead of three times.
Active Directory Improvements
If you use Active Directory authentication with
Tableau Server, the 4.1 release adds several
new capabilities to help you configure domain
information. You can now specify the domain
nickname during installation and modify both
full domain names and nicknames after the
server is up and running.