Most of you have already worked on Excel and how it can be used to visualize data. You need to have proper insight of your data and work with different formulas to achieve your results, which means the user needs to have some programming knowledge to get the best data visualization. What if there was a tool that could accomplish these results more easily and be created by a person without any technical knowledge?  Let us explore one of the most popular Business Intelligence tools named Tableau.

Tableau is a powerful business intelligence tool used to analyze data with a compelling data visualization. There aren’t any prerequisites needed to learn Tableau. Normally, a person understands concepts better when they are shown images which are visually well descriptive. Tableau works on providing such data visualization that will help any individual better understand data which can make decision making processes much easier.


Tableau Product Suite

Based on the use of the Product suite, there are two categories of tools in Tableau:

  1. Developer tools

The Tableau tools used for the development of data visualization. Development includes the creation and designing of dashboards, charts, reports generation and visualizations. These tools are comprised of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Public.

  1. Sharing tools

The name itself tells it all, these tools are used to share completed work like dashboards, charts and reports created using the developer tools. The products in this category are Tableau Online, Tableau Reader and Tableau Server.


Here are the details for these different products –

Tableau Server

Tableau Server is mainly used for sharing the visualizations and reports which were generated within the organization using the Tableau Desktop application. The organization would need to invest in hardware to setup the servers. The solutions created on the Tableau Desktop need to be published on the servers, in order to make them accessible to the licensed users. The users do not need to have the servers installed on their device, they can view the reports through a web browser using their login credentials.


Tableau Server requires a high level of security which translates into quick response times when sharing of data within the organization.


Tableau Reader

Tableau Reader is another product used to view reports and visualizations generated using Tableau Desktop and Tableau Public. Tableau Reader is a free tool. Viewed data can be filtered using Tableau Reader but it cannot be modified.


For Tableau Reader, anyone who has access to the workbook can view the data using Tableau Reader, so there is no security.


Tableau Online

With the name itself, it can be concluded that this is an online sharing tool for Tableau. This tool   is similar to Tableau Server, but the data is hosted on the cloud maintained by Tableau.

For those organizations which do not want to invest money on the Tableau Server installation or incur the maintenance cost of those servers, then Tableau Online is the preferred choice. There is a basic cost for Tableau Online and the Organization will share login credentials.  Any  work which has been completed can be published on Tableau Online, without having to undergo installation or maintenance of the tool. Both Tableau Server and Tableau Online need workbooks which have been created using Tableau Desktop.


Tableau Desktop

Tableau desktop has all features needed to create charts and reports and bind them together to create dashboards. There are various data sources that can be used as the source of data and imported into Tableau desktop. Based on the data sources, Tableau desktop is categorized into the following:

  1. Tableau Desktop personal

In this version, the workbooks are in private mode and the data source access is limited. These workbooks can’t be posted and can be used only for personal use.


  1. Tableau Desktop professional

The work generated using this version is published on Tableau Desktop. This version has full access to all data sources to import and use for data visualization.


Tableau Public

Tableau Public is the free version used for development of charts and workbooks. In this case Public means that generated workbooks cannot be saved locally and instead are saved on the public cloud which are accessible to all users.


There is no any privacy on the files created and anyone can download and access the same.

This version is best used to understand and learn Tableau. There are also limitations on the data sources for this version.

Advantages of Tableau

There are various numbers of other BI tools available. Why choose Tableau over all others?


Below are some of the advantage features of Tableau that explain why it is the best tool to use.


  • Drag/drop Technique – Tableau is very easy to use. It works on drag and drop functionality and is highly user interactive. The user just has to drag and drop the required fields onto the canvas and reports are instantly created.


  • Data connector options – Tableau has various data connector options to import data from data sources such as Excel or text files and it gives high performance output with big data.


  • Visualization Forms – There are multiple choices in representing your data.

There are bar charts, pie charts, histogram etc.   For example, if you have population by state information, this data can be visualized on a geospatial map using Tableau where you can have different states with different colors based on population.


  • Visualization switching – If you are working on a particular report visualization and would like to change the visualization to some other form, it can be accomplished easily and quickly requiring not much effort.


  • Versions – Tableau support regularly incorporates suggestions from user reviews and feedback to improve and enhance the tool in new version releases.


According to Gartner Magic Quadrant, Tableau is recognized as a leader for Business Intelligence platforms for the seventh consecutive year. Gartner conducts this study based on market presence to user experience and sales.