Thursday, November 29, 2018

A list of ways in which Tableau can -should- be improved.

Tableau's in need of a reworking, a redesign of it's fundamental data analysis interactive model. The original design concept worked well in the original functional space, but it's been left languishing and is in real danger of becoming left behind by new innovators.

It's been quite a while since I've spend much time and effort into advocating for improvements to Tableau's support for ordinary humans' data-analytical abilities.

At this time I'd like to present a compilation of material I've previously published, augmented with a wee bit of explanatory information.

I'm motivated to do this because I hear whispers that Tableau is maybe taking a look at how they can improve things.

Here's a list of references to material describing some ways in which Tableau could be improved; it covers a pretty broad span, partly because everything's related, partly because it's worth taking advantage of every opportunity to advocate for making Tableau a better product for helping people see and understand their data.

Nuggets and Seeds
A compendium of thoughts and musings about data analysis, effective data-analytical software tools, and Tableau's position as a premier tool for helping people see and understand data.
Is Tableau in danger of becoming just another enterprise platform? I hope not and fear so.
January, 2016

Rethinking The Analysis Frame #1 - Row Folding
Directly related to improving Tableau's table(ish) abilities.
September, 2013

Precision Inputs Required In Addition To Analog Controls
Precise control of the geometries of the various structural elements, e.g. column width would go a long way to making Tableau better.
Related: make it possible to select and adjust multiple elements at once - the current select/fiddle/repeat interaction model is tedious, tiresome, boring, and error-prone.
November, 2013

Inconsistent Chart/Table Formatting
October, 2012

Towards Better Formatting - Notes on Alignment
Specifically about text alignment, it lays out a robust set of options for formatting and aligning text.
Related: text should be formattable wherever it appears, this includes field labels, where it would be incredibly valuable to have control over folding, new lines, etc.

Problematic Table Formatting When Deployed in Dashboard
July, 2013

Jittery Charts - Why They Dance and How to Stop Them
January, 2013

Failure to Identify -or- Who is that mystery measure?
May, 2013

From Chart White Space to (the need for) Architecture
General thoughts on the need to implement a coherent visual architecture underpinning Tableau's visualization space and data-analytical interactive functionality.
July, 2013

Enhanced Chart Design - Adding White Space to Bar Charts
Visually separating elements grouped by Dimension members makes it much easier to identify these groupings than Tableau's current identically-sized matrix layout paradigm.
July, 2013

Dual Axis Visibility Configuration Explained - Is Not What It Should Be
August, 2013 Dual axis charts' axes should be independently and rationally controllable. They're not.
While we're at it: axes should be top-level objects, not subordinate to Headers, which means that one needs to have the Header visible in order to manipulate the axis. Which is bad, but worse: one needs to know that's how to get to the axis, and that's an impediment for non experts.

Is it Transparency? Is it Opacity? Labeled one, works like the other.
A little thing, but important in that 1) it works contradictory to expectations (that it established), and 2) plants a seed of mistrust in Tableau (if it's wrong here, where else is it?)
December, 2013

Additional Improvement Opportunities

Needed: More File Names and Better Interaction
April, 2013

Tableau Needs a New Windowing Scheme
(a bookmark article)
Essentially, Tableau's current application UI is horribly constrained by the fixed configuration of its component windows/panels.
The UI architecture made a little sense when Tableau was initially introduced, a legacy of the project Poseidon UI, but it's been outmoded for a decade.
Modern application UIs are much more modular and flexible, letting one have the tools necessary for the job at hand readily available without opening, closing. collapsing, expanding structural, modal components. March, 2014
Speaking of modality: the mishmash of modal/non-modal sub-windows and dialogs is a mess. Wherever possible, dialogs need to be non-modal.

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