Lab Day Wrap-up: Three lessons about Tableau Public

Lab Day is over! It was hard to really focus on it as much as I wanted to, what with a couple people being out of the office and vote going on in the U.S. House. I’m happy we did it, and looking forward to hearing about the rest of the Web team’s experiences.

Lessons learned about Tableau Public:

It’s all about the underlying data. I wanted to demo some of the controls you can give viewers access to. But given the few datasets I had to work with, I couldn’t explore everything I wanted to. If we’re going to use this tool to advance EDF’s communication goals, we’ll have to work hard to get the right data combinations.

Tableau Public is powerful, but not for everything. It offers extensive tools for filtering number- and time-based data, but mostly I had location-based data. And while it’s a great basic mapping tool, it lacks options that I wanted. Given this, it’ll be worth exploring other mapping tools, too.

The Tableau Public displays are beautiful but clunky. I thought at first I was asking it to handle too many data points, but even this simple map and this chart respond slowly. You can’t pan on maps, and it’s easy to accidentally select data points (but not to un-select them.)

And here’s my final map (pardon the horizontal scroll…didn’t have a chance to eliminate that).

It doesn’t tell a story, since the data on the two tabs isn’t even from the same time period. But that wasn’t the point. I did figure out what the tool is good for and how we might use it. Successful Lab Day!