Images Events Jobs Premium Services Media Kit Network Map E-mail Offers Vendor Solutions Webcasts
IT Management Webcasts:
The Role of Security in IT Service Management

Preparing for an IT Audit

More Webcasts

Search EarthWeb Network

Be a Commerce Partner
Promos and Premiums
Career Education
GPS Devices
Computer Hardware
Web Hosting Directory
Server Racks
Compare Prices
Shop Online
Promotional Pens
KVM over IP
Promotional Gifts

Linked Data Planet Conference & Expo

IT Management : Columns : Executive Tech: Now See Your Data In A Tableau

Heroes Happen Here Launch Events
Attend the upcoming launch of three powerful new products, take a test drive, meet the teams, and leave with promotional copies of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008. Register here. »

Install What You Need with Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 is Microsoft's most full-featured server operating system yet, so it's ironic that one of its most exciting new features is an install option that cuts out most of the other features. Paul Rubens explores why a Server Core installation makes a great deal of sense in many instances. »

Simplify Big Business IT for Small and Midsize Companies
Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008 deliver all-in-one solutions to help fuel growth for customers and partners. »

Q&A with Bob Muglia: Senior VP, Server and Tools Division
Bob Muglia, senior vice president, Server and Tools Division, discusses Microsoft's new interoperability principles and the steps the company is taking to increase the openness of its products. »

Q&A with Lutz Ziob, GM of Microsoft Learning
Lutz Ziob, the general manager of Microsoft Learning, talks about how IT professionals can become certified heroes within their enterprises by getting trained and certified in Windows Server 2008. »

Related Articles
Prefetch Search Results With Browster
Microsoft AntiSpyware: Separated at Birth
Can Antispammers Win the War?
- ITSMWatch Newsletter -
Tech Focus: Security

Cybersecurity: Laws Only Go So Far

Mozilla Firefox vs. Internet Explorer: Which is Safer?

Is Your Blog Leaking Trade Secrets?

The Las Vegas Counterfeiting Story: Is Your Privacy Worth More Than a Poker Chip?

Stopping Spammers at The Point of Sale

Product Watch
IOGEAR KVM - Includes Audio/Peripheral Sharing
Coverity Prevent / Coverity Thread Analyzer - Analyze Source Code For Defects, Security Vulnerabilities
USSD Series - SDRAM-Based Solid State Drives to 256 GB
UltraSMS - Send SMS From Your PC
Sentinel Sensors - Wi-Fi Based Temperature Monitoring Especially For Cold Storage

more products >>

Datamation Definitions
data mining
grid computing
network appliance
FREE Tech Newsletters

Meet the HP ProLiant DL385 G5

Now See Your Data In A Tableau
February 22, 2005
By Brian Livingston

Brian Livingston Forget about using Microsoft Excel to try to analyze your corporate data. And don't bother struggling with Excel's formulas and ranges to make charts of your figures, either.

By the end of March, a new product will be announced that will make those frustrating tasks seem just a bad dream. The application's name is Tableau 1.0, and I guarantee it'll change the way you look at your company's cash flows.

Visualizing your data anew

Tableau is a "visual environment" for data. That means it allows you to drag-and-drop the headings from your database tables onto a visual analysis worksheet. As you define the goals of your analysis, you immediately see patterns in your data that were never obvious from the raw figures.

That sounds like a mouthful. But the product itself is so easy to use that anyone who now works in the following applications should be able to pick up Tableau in no time:

• Microsoft Excel.
• Microsoft Access.
• Oracle.
• MySQL.
• Microsoft SQL Server.
• IBM DB2.
• Hyperion Essbase.
• Microsoft Analysis Services (MSAS) cubes.
• Comma-separated text files.

There's a serious industry that's grown up to make sense of the mountains of numbers that are locked up in corporate "data silos." It's called business intelligence. It has serious players such as Cognos, Business Objects, Micro Strategy, and many others.

Tableau is going to turn some heads when it finally comes out. It's easy for a company to drop tens of thousands of dollars, even millions, buying and/or developing business-intelligence products that require customization. Tableau 1.0, by contrast, is packaged retail software that will list for just $1,600 USD for its professional version and $1,000 for its standard edition.

And, unlike Excel and some other products, Tableau isn't limited to 65,000 rows of data. The product can handle as many rows as your PC's storage can hold.

How Tableau works its magic

So far, all this verbiage is still pretty abstract. Let's look at an example of how Tableau actually reveals patterns within your data.

In the image shown below, you've opened a data file in Tableau. The headings of each data column appear on the left side of the window. You drag a few of these headings into the appropriate boxes on the right side. The boxes mean "sort this," "subtotal that," and so forth.

In this example, Tableau has determined that your sales consist of three categories: Furniture (the orange dots in the chart), Office Supplies (green), and Technology (blue).

Because you've indicated to Tableau which columns contain Total Sales for each product and which contain Gross Profit, the software can chart the relationship on an X/Y graph for you. The products you sell the most of are represented by dots on the right side of the chart, while the products that produce the most profit are in the upper half of the chart.

You suddenly notice a striking fact: You have a dozen products with both high sales and high profitability. Increasing the margin of just those 12 items would make a big difference to your company's bottom line.

Tableau allows you to drag your mouse over this rectangular area of the chart, thereby selecting just those products you're interested in focusing on. As you do this, the dots for each product turn red, making them more visible. Right-clicking that area, you can then click Copy Data, duplicating all the raw data for the selected products into the Windows Clipboard.

From there, it's a piece of cake to paste the raw data rows into Microsoft Word, Excel, or any other program that supports cut-and-paste. (Every graphical object in Tableau always contains every byte of the original data.) In minutes, you've isolated some factors you can use to bolster your profits, and you can present the specific figures using any tool at your disposal.

Tableau Software

Bringing powerful minds to bear

Tableau is the brainchild of a handful of Stanford grads who complained during their student years about how hard databases were to use — and then devoted their post-graduate years to doing something about it.

Christian Chabot, CEO of Tableau Software, formerly headed BeeLine Systems, a mapping company that was acquired by Vicinity Corporation (now Microsoft MapPoint). Pat Hanrahan, CTO, was one of the first employees of Pixar and has received two Academy Awards for the visual technologies he developed there for motion pictures.

The techniques these smart guys subsequently developed to bring corporate data to life attracted the attention of venture-capital firm New Enterprise Associates. The VCs laid $5 million on the startup company, which goes a long way when you only have nine employees.

Tableau is already being used by a few data workers at risk-taking companies that purchased the software in an early version. I've heard that code described as a "0.5" release. Sources close to the startup say the 1.0 edition is now feature complete and ready for a March 31 launch. The company has already budgeted more than $100,000 for a publicity campaign. You heard it here first.


I was only able to spend a limited amount of time with the latest, near-1.0 version. But it's convinced me that Tableau will give spreadsheet and database analysts new ways to visualize their data that today would be hard even to conceive.

There's no word yet on the terms of a free trial program, if any. But I assume the company will offer the standard money-back guarantee for first-time buyers. You should look into it as soon as the product is officially released.

Its developers having devoted almost all of their time to developing category-killer software, the product Web site is somewhat skeletal at this point. But here it is, including a few interesting visuals that merely hint at what the product can do:

Brian Livingston is the editor of and the co-author of Windows Vista Secrets and 10 other books. Send story ideas to him via his contact page. To subscribe free and receive Executive Tech via e-mail, visit our signup page.

Add to your favorites
Add to your browser search box
IE 7 | Firefox 2.0 | Firefox 1.5.x
Receive news via our XML/RSS feed

Executive Tech Archives



Jupitermedia Corporation has two divisions: Jupiterimages and JupiterOnlineMedia

Jupitermedia Corporate Info

Legal Notices, Licensing, Reprints, & Permissions, Privacy Policy.

Advertise | Newsletters | Tech Jobs | Shopping | E-mail Offers

Whitepapers and eBooks
Microsoft Article: Will Hyper-V Make VMware This Decade's Netscape?
Microsoft Article: 7.0, Microsoft's Lucky Version?
Microsoft Article: Hyper-V--The Killer Feature in Windows Server 2008
Avaya Article: How to Feed Data into the Avaya Event Processor
Microsoft Article: Install What You Need with Windows Server 2008
HP eBook: Putting the Green into IT
Whitepaper: HP Integrated Citrix XenServer for HP ProLiant Servers
Intel Go Parallel Portal: Interview with C++ Guru Herb Sutter, Part 1
Intel Go Parallel Portal: Interview with C++ Guru Herb Sutter, Part 2--The Future of Concurrency
Avaya Article: Setting Up a SIP A/S Development Environment
IBM Article: How Cool Is Your Data Center?
Microsoft Article: Managing Virtual Machines with Microsoft System Center
HP eBook: Storage Networking , Part 1
Microsoft Article: Solving Data Center Complexity with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007
Intel Video: Are Multi-core Processors Here to Stay?
On-Demand Webcast: Five Virtualization Trends to Watch
HP Video: Page Cost Calculator
Intel Video: APIs for Parallel Programming
HP Webcast: Storage Is Changing Fast - Be Ready or Be Left Behind
Microsoft Silverlight Video: Creating Fading Controls with Expression Design and Expression Blend 2
Downloads and eKits
Sun Download: Solaris 8 Migration Assistant
Sybase Download: SQL Anywhere Developer Edition
Red Gate Download: SQL Backup Pro and free DBA Best Practices eBook
Red Gate Download: SQL Compare Pro 6
Iron Speed Designer Application Generator
Tutorials and Demos
How-to-Article: Preparing for Hyper-Threading Technology and Dual Core Technology
eTouch PDF: Conquering the Tyranny of E-Mail and Word Processors
IBM Article: Collaborating in the High-Performance Workplace
HP Demo: StorageWorks EVA4400
Intel Featured Algorhythm: Intel Threading Building Blocks--The Pipeline Class
Microsoft How-to Article: Get Going with Silverlight and Windows Live