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Intro to data visualization with Tableau

Learning objectives

At the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  1. Recognize the characteristics of an effective visualization
  2. Format data for visualization
  3. Create a simple visualization using Tableau software

Pre-workshop setup

This workshop includes hands-on practice with Tableau software. To participate fully please do the following before the workshop

  1. Install Tableau Desktop Public Edition (free) or Tableau Desktop (free for verified students) on your computer. Both versions work equally well for this workshop.
  2. Download the Labour Force Survey, 2020 sample dataset (CSV file on Google Drive, 72MB).
  3. Optional: if you are using Tableau Desktop Public Edition and would like to save your work, sign up for a free Tableau Public account.

Requests for the free Tableau Desktop student license are verified first, the download is not immediate. If installing shortly before the workshop choose Tableau Desktop Public Edition instead.

Workshop slides

Why Tableau?

This workshop uses Tableau Desktop Public Edition software to introduce data visualization concepts because it is freely available and accessible to beginners.

This is not an endorsement of Tableau: there are many options for data visualization and other software may be better in other contexts. While suitable as a teaching tool, Tableau Desktop Public Edition imposes limitations that users should be aware of:

  • Visualizations cannot be saved locally, they must be saved to a Tableau Public account online. Work saved to the cloud can be hidden from public view but this is not suitable for private or sensitive data.
  • Dataset size limit of 1M records
  • Cannot connect directly to databases

Tableau Desktop does not have these limits, but it is not free.

Students at accredited academic institutions are eligible for a free one-year trial of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder (see