Tableau’s Free Service Helps Users Create, Share Visualizations

Site visitors can manipulate data interactively

Tableau Software ( has released what it hopes will bring public data to life on the Web. The free service, Tableau Public, lets users design visualizations for their data, then share that graphic and data easily on their Web site (such as in a blog or Twitter feed). Visitors to pages with the embedded analysis, which is stored on Tableau’s servers, can manipulate the visualization themselves to analyze it in a variety of ways.

“Imagine if online data was as fun and accessible as online video,” said Christian Chabot, Tableau’s CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “We created this product because we want to make data a first-class citizen on the Web. We want to change the way people interact with data online by letting them tell stories with flexibility and beauty.”

Chabot told <em>BI This Week</em> that options for sharing data online are clumsy or require expertise typically not available to most users. Instead of displaying data in tables or lists, users can create more interesting visualizations and dashboards from, helping start public conversations based on that data. The technology does not require a special browser plug-in.

The service has been used by bloggers to create conversations with data. For example, it says, “Timothy Ellis at, a community blog focused on the local housing market, is using Tableau to increase the depth of conversations about the changing real estate market.” Users can filter data and change the level of detail to drill down into specific data or see data from a different perspective.

Chabot also pointed to Robert Kosara, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina, used the service to compare 20 years’ worth of temperature data that shows warming trends. clearly and posted a blog about global warming. “I was impressed how Tableau helped me create a more analytical visualization that was easy to share on the web. It’s an amazing product, and I regularly use Tableau for my Visual Analytics class,” said Kosara in a Tableau release.

The company also released version 5.1 of its Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server product suite which enhances its analytics (such as reference bands and intelligent data labels), publishing, scalability, and performance.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the former editorial director of Enterprise Strategies (

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