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Quick Visualizations with Tableau Online

Tableau is a powerful data analytics and visualization tool. Traditionally, to use Tableau, one had to download the server application, install it, and configure it properly. Several years ago, Tableau Online was released, which is essentially Tableau running in the cloud that anyone can quickly sign up for and use. Additionally, Tableau has many connectors available, which allows users to connect to data sources including many of the different SQL variants as well as the online SQL / Big Data platforms.

In this post, we will use Tableau Online to quickly visualize the FY 2018-2019 City of Dallas Operating Budget.

Data Source

For this post, we will demonstrate using the Google BigQuery connector. Thus, we start by uploading the raw data to a Google BigQuery table.

Raw data in Google BigQuery

Then, we connect our Tableau workbook to our BigQuery project by adding a Google BigQuery connector.

Adding a data source connector in Tableau

Now our data source is ready to use.

Setting up the Worksheet

Once our data connector is ready to use, we can start visualizing the data.

Tableau Worksheet

Here, we use the “Fund” and “Category” columns in the database as the “Rows” in Tableau (think of those as the groupings or dimensions of the dataset), and the sum of the budget across those rows as the measure (think of that as the result you want to see).

Here, we want to use a treemap as an example, so in the upper right hand corner, click the “Show Me” button and select the treemap.

Adding a title and exporting the chart, we get the visualization below.

Dallas Operating Budget FY18-19


This is a quick example of how Tableau Online can be hooked up to a data source to do quick visualizations. Of course we haven’t even scratched the surface here as there are many more powerful analytics features. Additionally, if you work in a group, there are the typical organizational features such as creating analysis for other users to view, setting user permissions, etc.

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