Five Exciting Features Tableau Announced at TC18
I recently had the privilege to attend Tableau Conference 2018 (TC18) in New Orleans. It was a great event filled with so many sessions it was difficult to choose which ones to attend. I was especially interested in the keynote speaker and developers on-stage presentations since they would be revealing the coming soon features and enhancements for Tableau.
TC18 is THE place to learn about new functionality that will make Tableau development easier… and dashboards more exciting! Over the last year or so, I heard rumors regarding upcoming enhancements. At the conference I was able to substantiate the rumors and obtain more details.
From enhancements to improve speed and ease of use to brand new capabilities that strengthen Tableau’s position as a market leader, there are many new features to be excited about. Here are my five favorite new features announced at TC18.
1. TABLEAU PREP ENHANCEMENTS (2019.1 BETA)
Among the many enhancements being made to Tableau Prep, a big one to look forward to is the ability to schedule Tableau Prep flows. Currently, flows run from the Tableau Prep client and you can’t schedule one to run on a nightly or weekly basis.
But soon that will change: Tableau Server will be extended to provide scheduling, monitoring and administering of Tableau Prep flows. These capabilities will be bundled into something called Tableau Prep Conductor, which will be licensed separately. Other new enhancements to the new Tableau Prep features include: support for R and Python, custom data rules and the ability to trace fields back to the source.
2. MULTI TABLE EXTRACT (2018.3)
In the past, some gotchas would occur when trying to implement row level security in Tableau. One popular method for is to have an entitlements table that stores users and their privileges at a granular level and join that to a detail/fact table. However, if you use a Tableau data extract, this scenario can cause extracts to blow up, becoming unmanageable in size. Providing multi-table extracts addresses this issue by allowing the detail and security tables to stay their original size. This option will make visualizations quicker to open and file sizes more manageable.
Note: The initial release of multi-table extract does not support filters and that’s a bit of a show stopper. This issue can be worked around by using Custom SQL or by putting your filters into a view in your database.
3. TABLEAU DATA MODELING ENHANCEMENTS (2019)
One new data modeling enhancement I really liked was the ability to automatically join related objects in the data pane. It allows users to add related objects without knowing how they are related or how they should be joined. This feature is great in concept, but Tableau used a very small data model in the demo. I am a little skeptical it will work with hundreds or thousands of tables and complex data models. So even though I am excited for this new capability, I will adopt a wait and see attitude until I get more details.
4. AUTOMATIC LEVEL OF DETAIL CALCULATIONS
If you are currently writing level of detail (LODs) calculations because measures are not summarizing accurately, this new feature may be for you. If it works as described, it will be awesome!
Currently, bringing in history records or line items at a different level of granularity can result in the measures on the “parent” record getting repeated, which in turn can cause inaccurate and misleading numbers when summarizing. And, we know how Tableau automatically summarizes everything. It then becomes necessary to write an LOD calculation to get accurate numbers. If this step could be handled in Tableau without having to write a separate calculation, it would save time and effort in the development process and prevent users from creating visualizations that depict inaccurate numbers.
5. ENCRYPTION AT REST FOR TABLEAU EXTRACTS (COMING IN RELEASE 2019)
This feature will offer the ability to enforce encryption on all extracts or leave it up to the publisher. Security is always a big topic and we won’t get in to it here, but having a choice to encrypt extracts stored on disk in Tableau Server would be great.
UPCOMING FEATURES THAT ALMOST MADE MY TOP 5
There are other noteworthy features coming up. While these did not make my top five, I am sure there are many use cases for these as well.
- Parameter Actions (2019) and Set Actions (2018.3)
- Redesigned Tableau Mobile App (2019.1 Beta)
- Natural Language Support – Ask Data (2019.1 Beta)
- Mapping Enhancements like Vector Maps and Map Styles (2019)
- Export to PowerPoint (2019.1 Beta)
You can really learn so much at the Tableau Conference – my takeaways are just the tip of the iceberg. There were tons of sessions drilling down on hundreds of topics. In fact, there was so much to learn at the conference that many people experienced information overload. If this happened to you, or if you were unable to attend this year, you can watch the Tableau Conference 2018 keynotes and sessions on YouTube.
This blog was submitted by our own Monica Van Loon. A frequent contributor to our blog, Monica is a Tableau certified consultant and teaches many of our Tableau workshops.
Senturus is a nationwide business analytics consulting firm and a Tableau partner. We were in no part solicited or paid for this review. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any other related party.