Tableau released version 2019.3 a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of the biggest releases, in terms of features, since August 2016. New features have been coming out at quite the pace over the last year. I returned from maternity leave during the summer, having gone on leave at the start of August 2018 to have my second child. One of the biggest hurdles since returning has been getting up to speed with all the new features that have been introduced in the period I was on leave. There were over 70 updates across releases 2018.2 to 2019.2 so I had some catching up to do (2018.2 was released at the end of July 2018). I managed to keep up with some of the changes while I was ‘off’ thanks to the community on Twitter. I’m excited about the changes allowing increased interactivity using set and parameter actions and the new and improved mapping experience. I wrote about some of the mapping enhancements and an application of Set Actions in this blog. With 2019.3, the major focus seems to be on the enterprise offering, with a view to enabling self-service analytics at a large scale.
Before we go deep on 2019.3, let’s take a step back and see what has preceded this release and have a look at the timings of releases since 2008 (see above). I collected data from the Tableau website which provided the dates of releases back to Version 4 in 2008 (release notes available here, although at the time of writing they only go back to version 10). I worked with the software for the first time in 2008. It’s safe to say that that the software today, 11 years on, is unrecognizable from what it was then. We can see from the above timescale that version releases now occur much more frequently. In the years 2015 – 2017 there were three releases per year. There were four in 2018 and the plan is to have four in 2019 also, with 2019.4 Beta currently in testing.
Some time after starting for Perception, I created a list in Excel of some of the feature updates so that I could keep track (you can see all features here going back as far as version 9.0). Working as a consultant, you often have to switch between versions of Tableau, depending on what clients are working with. You want to avoid getting animated about a feature such as ‘Viz in Tooltips‘ or ‘Export to Power Point’, only to realise that the person you’re speaking to does not have this available to them because they are on an older version. With all the great changes you really would want to be staying current! I have often found myself consulting the Tableau website to check when a certain feature was introduced. It’s not possible to search all releases together, so I found it easier to maintain my own list that was searchable. It has been on my to do list for some time to create a visualisation of these updates. I published one this week on Tableau Public which does that, please see the interactive visualisation below:
I classified the new features into seven different groups. We can see the trends across the versions in the bar chart and all individual features are listed on the right-hand side of the view (or at the end if you’re viewing on mobile). Tableau changed their naming convention at the start of 2018. Looking at the graph above, we can see that in 2019.3, the majority of features fall under the heading Enterprise, Server & Online. This has always been an area of focus, but especially in the last couple of years. This release is strong from a Data perspective, continuing with what we have seen in the last two releases. There are several improvements to Tableau Prep, with integration of R and Python now possible. There are a number of enhancements from an analytics perspective and nothing of note in terms of dashboards/story points specifically or mobile. I will look at a few highlights of the release below:
2019.3 has seen the introduction of Explain Data. I haven’t used it a great deal just yet but at first glance it looks like it will be a useful tool for analysts on their data discovery journey. We often hear people talk about the light bulb moments when working with their data in Tableau. The aptly chosen light bulb icon, available in the Tooltip when you click on a mark, gives you a helping hand in analysing the outliers in your data. In the below example, we see a case where a customer’s sales are on the high end of the spectrum, but they are loss making. Explain Data shows you the distribution of the underlying data points and highlights records that are deviating from the norm.
Ask Data has been around since version 2019.1 in February 2019 and is being improved upon with every new release. This looks to continue with even more improvements currently being tested in 2019.4 Beta. Ask Data allows you to ask questions of your data using natural language. There is a great webinar here if you want to know more about it. One key take-away from the video is that you should ensure your field names are in good shape before working with Ask Data, as this will aid the whole process. Field names should be easy to make sense of, i.e. not unintuitive technical names. With version 2019.3, Ask Data can now be embedded into your company portal or Wiki, allowing even more people in your organisation to get questions answered.
Tableau Catalogue is the new addition to the Data Managment Add-on, which previously consisted of Tableau Prep Conductor. Tableau Catalogue enables more control over the body of data in an organisation. It gives companies increased visibility, showing relationships between data sources and workbooks. Having a consolidated view of all data being used by Tableau allows better control, and tables and data sources can be certified which means users can trust what they’re looking at. It is critical in a self-service environment that everyone is confident that the correct data is being used for decision making, and increased visibility and control helps with this.
Server Management Add-on
This allows companies with large Tableau deployments to manage their Server environment at scale. It gives increased visibility and makes the process of managing content, users and resources much easier with access to a variety tools. It will be a more efficient process which will mean time saved for IT teams responsible for roll-out. This will ultimately improve the foundations of the self-service analytics environment.
What are you waiting for! Download 2019.3 today or feel free to get in touch to discuss with a member of our team.
Thanks for reading.
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