Tableau Conference 2016 – Devs On Stage

10 Nov 2016

Tableau Conference 2016 – Devs On Stage

Weelin Lim


One of the most popular regular sessions at each Tableau Conference is the Developers On Stage, where Tableau's own developers showcase some of the most exciting features that will appear imminently in the tool. This year was no different with a number of developers highlighting new functionalities in many areas. This blog will summarise these announcements and give you an idea of some great new features that are just around the corner, including many features voted for on the forums.



Presented by Maraki Ketema - Engineer on the analytics team

Automatic Drill: This functionality automatically changes the hierarchy level in your maps, as you zoom into an area, with the demo showing the detail changing automatically down from US state to county and then Zip Code level. I would hope that this will work with any user-defined hierarchies too.

Map Scale: As you zoom in and out of a map, you will now have a dynamic scale so that you can immediately understand the distances on your map.

Spatial File Connector: This allows you to easily bring in your own spatial files. Tableau will immediately visualise it in a map and will be available in the 10.2 beta version.

Python Integration: Tableau now has Python integration, so you can write it directly in calculations. With R and now Python support, you really can enjoy using your analytics language of choice to enhance the analytics in your Tableau visualisations.

Tooltip Selection: This allows you to select filtering from a tooltip automatically. Clicking on the tooltip attribute auto filters all the dashboards.

Dynamic Filter Presets: With this functionality, you will be able to automatically filter your date available in your data, or the current date - your viz filter will automatically adjust to that date each time it changes.

Step Lines and Jump lines: This gives two new ways to plot line charts, in addition to the standard linear lines. Step Lines help to visualise order of magnitude changes. Jump Lines help to visualise the time between changes.

Legend Per Measure: Want to have separate colour legends per column, when showing a highlight table with multiple measures? Well, now you can, with Legends per Measure!
You can now use separate legend colours per measure column on the same table. Tableau really are making highlight tables great again!


Dashboards and Stories

Presented by Steph Dietzel - Software Engineer

When it comes to beautifully designed dashboards and stories, the presentation is very important. Spacing and alignment of dashboard objects can add a high degree of polish to the end result.
The following features are all about making this presentation easier.

Distribute Evenly: This feature got the loudest cheer of the night. It allows you to even out spaces between objects simply by selecting them and selecting even spacing. It's a functionality that has been available in other tools for a long time, so is well overdue in Tableau.

Margin and Padding control: New tools for spacing and margins have been added to easily control and add padding around any object.

Border Tool: Now you can add a border to any tool on the dashboard.

Expressive Text Controls: Wherever text is used, you can create creatively formatted text, using the new Expressive Text Controls functionality. This allows you to add custom characters, icons, URLs, bulleted lists and more to your text fields and tool tips.

Web Authoring updates: Tableau's aim is to make web-authoring via the browser as rich an experience as desktop authoring. The following web-authoring updates have been added to bring this closer to fruition:
Custom MapBox background, hiding titles, adding reference lines, resizing, number formatting, Story Points on the web, including Navigator Points, web full-screen mode for full-screen visualisations on a browser.



Presented by Britta Nielsen – UX Designer

A number of improvements are imminently arriving for mobile functionality including the following:

Direct Linking: Email links that can open the Tableau Mobile app and Tableau visualisation directly once clicked.

Smooth Tooltips for Mobile: These new tooltips appear at the bottom of the view automatically and make it much easier to select small points on a mobile screen.

Commenting from Mobile App: As with the new collaboration feature mentioned in the Tableau Vision keynote (see blog), this allows you to collaborate directly from your mobile by commenting from the mobile app and receiving comments from collaborators. The fact that this functionality is being mentioned in this session means that it is likely that the full functionality will be appearing early next year, rather than later.

Offline Interactivity on Mobile: Now you can see and interact with your data with no connectivity. This is different from an offline snapshot. Tooltips work, along with standard interactivity. Selections, tooltips, legends and highlighting all work offline and this will all be available on the Android app too.



Presented by Zaheera Valani – Development Manager

This section is all about data prep and access improvements.

JOIN on Calculations: Create a JOIN calculation, so you can combine two fields via a JOIN calculation field.

Drag and Drop UNION tables from a database: With database UNION, you can drag and drop your tables to union them together, directly from a database connection.

New data connector for PDF: This was a very impressive new connector. You will be able to connect to PDFs directly via Tableau, edit the data and union pages to use the PDF data directly as a data source.

JSON Connector: The new JSON connector is available now in 10.1 and features a level selector to allow you to choose the fields you want to use without having to edit the JSON file.



Presented by Ben Lower - Extensibility Team

This section was for the Developer platforms and APIs

Automating Workflows: A brand new server client library makes automating tasks really easy. The libraries make publishing and repointing tasks much simpler than presently. No more XML hacking!

Document API: These improvements allow you to customise the look and feel of Tableau when embedded in your website. For example, you can make custom menus matching to your website, while still retaining standard Tableau functionality like exporting to PDF.

Charting Library Support: Getdata() 3rd party charting library support like D3. Now you can easily do things like network diagrams and interactive movement of visuals, all within your Tableau dashboard

Mobile App Bootstrap: Makes it much easier to test your mobile apps. Available on GitHub now.



These were examples of the new functionality that is coming soon in Tableau, but not an exhaustive list. As mentioned, at least 25 items were functionality voted for by the community within the forums, which goes to show that Tableau is still very much engaged with their user community and voting for features is definitely worth doing!

Weelin Lim

About the author

Head of Business Intelligence at Concentra. I am a Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse specialist with over 15 years’ experience in a variety of industries. I enjoy visualising freely available Government data and as a parent, I am particularly interested in Education data right now. My blog articles will (hopefully) be a mixture of business and technical experiences, as well as visualisations of interest to the wider public.

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