A Theory of Discovery: Tableau Customer Conference 2013 Keynote

Christian Chabot, never one for a standard tech conference keynote, (hint: you might never hear him say "I'm so excited to be here") brought to #TCC13 a series of thoughts on discovery. How do humans discover new things?

Christian walked into a loud house, and a full house. He began by looking at the works of some of the greats-- Biologist Ignaz Semmelweis, astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, and physicist Albert Einstein.

"The great discoverers are jazz artists— they combine logic with intuition." Discoverers feel, they chase, they shift perspectives and they relate different ideas.

Every day our organizations are faced with our own Mayan code to decode. "Data is an incredible resource for human improvement."

But traditional enterprise business intelligence works in exact opposition to the way great discoveries are made. It is heavy, inflexible and hard to use.

Tableau is a page-1 rewrite of the book of business intelligence. We are trying to create the software that helps people make new discoveries.

Chris Stolte and Developers on Stage

Tableau's Chief Development Officer then came out to show off some of the new innovation coming in the next two releases. Chris continued on the theme of discovery, with more stories and nods to the history of computing, as well as chemistry and biology and space exploration.

And he said that tools matter to augment human intelligence. The best researchers can't do much when using a pencil with a brick attached to it. And traditional enterprise business intelligence is like a pencil taped to a brick.

"We won't live up to our full potential," Chris said, "without tools that help us augment our ideas."

Then a series of developers came on stage to show off new features coming in 8.1 and 8.1. There were hats and pineapples, grapefruit and calendars. The rock star features that got the most applause were: date parse, box plots in show me, R integration and story points. A full feature list is below.

What brought down the house was Andrew Beers demo'ing the native Mac version of Tableau, coming up in version 8.2.

Was it a keynote or a party? I still don't know. Ask your favorite #TCC113 attendee.

Full list of features mentioned in keynote

Features that got a lot of applause are starred.

Seamless access to data

  • Data connection interface *
  • Visual joins *
  • Dateparse function *
  • Easier metadata

Visual analytics for everyone

  • Boxplot *
  • Percentiles as a new aggregation
  • Forecasting improvements- and new prediction bands
  • Ranking *
  • New totals- two-pass totals
  • R *

Fast, easy beautiful

  • Folders in the data window
  • More db transparency on titles and legends
  • Formatted quick filters
  • Better presentation mode
  • Calendar control
  • Apply button
  • Copy/ paste sheet

Storytelling: Story points, a new feature to help you organize views in a story flow.


  • Improved performance & scalability
  • External load balancers
  • 64bit- server and desktop
  • SAML- single sign on for Desktop and Server
  • ipv6

Visual analytics everywhere

  • Tableau online
  • Web authoring enhancements: moving quick filters, iPad improvement, color encoding *
  • Tableau on the Mac in 8.2**** and the crowd goes wild.