New features unveiled at Tableau Customer Conference 2013

Gabriel Gejman

Gabriel Gejman

This year’s Tableau customer conference attracted more than 3,200 customers from 40+ countries, along with 700 Tableau employees from founders to developers. Everyone came together to share their experience with Tableau and get onboard the data visualization journey, which Tableau defines as a perfect blend between content and form. At this year’s conference, upcoming features for Tableau 8.1 and 8.2 were announced, expected to be launched in Q4 2013 and by the end of Q1 2014, respectively.

All the new functionalities are meant to help analysts and business users get even more value from their data through a user-friendly experience. Here’s a roundup of some of the most exciting improvements to Tableau Desktop.

Seamless access to data

In keeping with Tableau’s mission to make analysts’ jobs easier, one of Tableau’s best new features is a data connection interface that shows a sample of the data gathered, along with the connections between tables, making it even easier for a non-SQL experienced user to easily get the correct data.

A new “dateparse” function will help transform messy date formats in one simple step. You don’t have to load your data on a separate spreadsheet or make complex calculations to take advantage of the great date functionality built in to Tableau.

Also, the new version will include the ability to organize dimensions and measures in folders—a simple way to include some additional metadata and simplify the creation of visualizations.Dimensions

Visual analytics for everyone

visualanalyticsA new set of functionalities, mostly focused on statistical analysis, will simplify complex calculations that were previously very challenging to produce. One upcoming feature is a new visualization tool that creates boxplots in a one-click step. Additionally, percentile calculations will soon be available in aggregate, and rankings will also be added as a new Quick Table Calculation (Top N by category and complex rankings are probably the most searched tricks in the Tableau forums).

Most noteworthy is the new forecasting functionality that automatically calculates and shows a prediction band based on a user-set confidence level. As if that wasn’t enough, the integration with R coming in 8.2 will make Tableau the perfect tool for statisticians running complex models.

Dashboards design

forecastindicatorA series of small but important design features are going to be added to the new versions of Tableau. With the introduction of Tableau 8.0, we were freed of the tight structure in dashboards using “floating” objects that can be placed anywhere. In 8.1, objects will have transparency, opening the options for more compelling and engaging designs.

Multiple-option quick filters will include an “Apply” button to be able to select/exclude several members without refreshing the views on every click. All quick filters will have formatting options to mirror the look and feel of the dashboard.

Lastly, Tableau has included a copy/paste option for worksheets and dashboards. You’ll no longer have to bookmark, close, and open workbooks to get that worksheet copied to a new workbook. Quickly reusing dashboard designs is now a reality.


The feature that most significantly changes the way we use Tableau is “Storytelling,” a new way to share insights by creating your own story of your data. With a few simple clicks, anyone will be able to create story points based on dashboards—with filters and annotations applied—that will be organized in a linear story flow.

This new feature offers users an elegant and simple way to create their own presentations, share data explorations, and encourage others to explore their data.

Insights everywhere

Although all the new features are very impressive and needed, the most cheered one (and certainly most requested) is the Mac version of Tableau Desktop. The Mac version of Tableau Desktop will have the same interface we’re all used to on Windows. All you Mac users will no longer have to run a VM to enjoy the power of Tableau Desktop!

A unanimous success

This year’s Tableau Customer Conference was a great experience. It was the first Tableau conference on the east coast and was a success amongst customers and partners alike—the passion that clearly drives this company is contagious.

The attendance from conference to conference is growing as much as Tableau’s customer list. As Tableau’s recently awarded North American Alliance Partner of the Year, we’re already hearing more and more from our clients across the country—and across industries—about their interest in Tableau. We’re looking forward to helping our clients tell even more meaningful stories with their data with the upcoming improvements to Tableau.

About Gabriel Gejman
I'm a Data Visualization architect at Slalom Consulting in the Bay Area, helping our clients get insights from their data.

2 Responses to New features unveiled at Tableau Customer Conference 2013

  1. Norman says:

    Great recap, Gabriel!

  2. Pingback: Six improvements to Tableau Server 8.1 | The Slalom Blog

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