A new section to bring in light, thoughts of the Tableau experts who are an inspiration to all of us.The answers will be helpful to everyone aspiring to learn more and more in the Tableau world.Every week, we shall bring in such one personality who would share their words to the readers and motivate them to dive in deeper in this limitless ocean of knowledge and fun.
1. For how long have you been using tableau?
Ann – I’ve known about Tableau for about 4 years, but I’d say I’ve been seriously developing with it daily for 2 years. I was first introduced to Tableau in 2013 when I was working as a Process Engineering Analyst using data to improve and refine business processes. I’d put in an IT ticket to have Power Pivot for Excel installed and was redirected to Tableau. From there I used it off and on until I transitioned to a more Tableau centric role in 2015.
2. What is one thing in tableau that you wish every other BI tool in the market should have.
Ann – I really love the flexibility Tableau has to move fields wherever you want. It is really great for trial and error along with pure exploration. The infinite undo button and the ability to rapidly develop is what makes it safe and fun for me. I’d really like if more BI tools let you manipulate data and then display your manipulation opposed to starting with what chart you want to build and plugging in the fields.
3. What features of Tableau do you often use in your office work?
Ann – So many of them! Pretty much everything I develop at work ends up using both Table Calculations and Level of Detail Expressions – I find those are generally required to answer deeper and more insightful questions. I also really like to strategically use color to demonstrate some sort of component, so I often spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m encoding on color. The last thing I always do at work is customize my tooltips. I find that it’s really helpful to update them to explain in clear terms what the data being presented represents.
4. You are the Leader of the Phoenix Tableau User Group. How do you take out time from your busy schedule for contributing so much to the Tableau Community?
Ann – I really feel like the local and global community have helped to accelerate my skills and competency in data visualization – because it has had such an impact on me, I feel a responsibility to share and give back. Being the leader of the Phoenix Tableau User Group also serves to challenge me in the right way: it holds me accountable to learning and growing. Data visualization and data exploration are truly a passion for me, so it’s easy to make time for it. Instead of watching TV, I’ll go home and work on a data project. There’s also a lot of other less visible folks that make the Phoenix Tableau User Group possible including the countless volunteer speakers and seasoned veterans who generously provide guidance and support.
5. Tell us about your favorite viz on Tableau Public – Urban Forest of NYC.
Ann – Haha – the favorite feature just came out, so let me preface by saying I haven’t had a chance to favorite other folks beautiful vizzes and only favorited Urban Forest of NYC to test out the feature! That being said, this viz was created as part of the #HackingOpenData hackathon hosted by the Tableau Public team. There are two key components to this viz that make it very special for me. First was the data set – I got really lucky stumbling upon such a large data set of something most everyone can relate to: TREES! The other component was the initial viz idea which came from my collaboration partner and husband Josh. He had this idea of doing map components as underlying to more aggregated visuals. I also wanted to do a ‘long form’ dashboard and felt like we HAD to display every tree. I consider this to be a personal favorite because of the parameter that allows all the trees to change from Spring colors to Fall colors. After I hit that drop down and the colors change there’s always a wave of awesome.
6. What was your idea behind your website – jacksontwo.com and how can the newbies benefit from it?
Ann – The idea behind the site was to have a space on the internet to share my thoughts and collect them all in one place. It really is a space where someone can find a little bit of everything. I’ve got demonstration videos, book recommendations, and a few blog posts about my professional experiences. I think it’s a great place for people who want to get a glimpse into my problem solving and development style. One thing a lot of people in the Tableau community advocate for is to make your work visible and this space is how I hold myself accountable to that standard.
7. Interestingly, this website also provides delicious recipes of mouth-watering dishes. How did that find space in your tech website?
Ann – Great question! This is purely to make it easier for me to share recipes with friends and family. Truth being told, I probably use the recipes the most because they’re really easy to pull up on my phone!
8. How have your responsibilities expanded as a Tableau Evangelist.
Ann – To me a big part of being a Tableau Evangelist means advocating for data visualization. I want every citizen of the world to come to know the power behind taking static data and turning it into a communication device, a way to answer questions, a way to inspire new ideas. I’ve witnessed over and over again the ‘aha’ moments when someone finally unlocks the secrets their data has been hiding. I believe Tableau is currently the best tool to achieve this, so I feel a responsibility to share and guide others on best practices and how they can make the most out of a very rich and deep platform.
9. Kindly take us through your memories of Data Analytics Unleashed – Alteryx ’17.
Ann – I was very fortunate this year to go to the Alteryx Inspire conference. I’m assuming most of your audience is familiar with Alteryx, so I will spare the details. For me it was a really unique experience because it’s a much smaller conference than the Tableau conference. I really got the chance to connect with several peers in the community and spend a lot of hands on time in the tool. I kind of alluded to it earlier, but a lot of my passion is in data analysis – so growing my skills in some of the predictive and geospatial components of Alteryx was really enjoyable. It’s such a fascinating tool – one that I think has so much value for any curious data minded individual.
10. Lastly, share your advice to the budding tableau users.
Ann – Get out there and start participating in the community challenges like #MakeoverMonday and #WorkoutWednesday. It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, it’s just important to get started. There are a wealth of resources out there, but from my perspective going through the build is what grows the skill. Also find peers that you can trust, they will be your best champions and help you grow in unexpected ways.