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  • Bernard K

Choosing the right tool for learning Tableau

Updated: May 18, 2021

What is Tableau?

Tableau is a data visualization tool that helps users instantly connect to any data, create amazing visualizations using a drag and drop interface and share their craft to the world in seconds. It is one of the leaders in business intelligence market according to Gartner reports – and a great tool for anyone in data science or interested in data visualization niche.

Thousands of dashboards and inspirations can be accessed in the Tableau Public Gallery

Choosing the right tool to learn Tableau, can be a challenge for beginners as Tableau has several options depending with your needs as a user. In this article I will share the different options you should know if you’re interested in data visualization with Tableau.

Tableau Desktop

Tableau desktop is the flagship tool for authoring dashboards. It’s the tool you need to explore the full capacity/features of Tableau in dashboarding. Some of the distinctive key features of this tool include;

  • Ability to connect to more data sets (big data)

  • Ability to save work either locally in your machine or in the Tableau server (Online or hosted)

  • Different options of exporting visualization.

The Tableau Desktop is sold as Tableau Creator License (which includes Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep and Tableau Creator license of Tableau Online or Tableau Server) at $70 per month billed annually.

Note: Tableau Prep is a data preparation tool to help you quickly combine, clean and shape your data. It comprises of two products, Tableau Prep Builder for building your data flows and Tableau Prep Conductor for scheduling, monitoring and managing flows across the organization.

Download a copy of Tableau Desktop

Tableau for Students

This is a free one year Tableau licenses (to activate Tableau Desktop & Tableau Prep) to students at accredited academic institutions worldwide. To get your copy of Tableau license for students, all you need is to complete and submit a form to confirm your eligibility. You MUST be of 16 years and above to request this license.

Note: Once your Tableau Student license expires, you can renew or extend your Tableau Student license by simply re-submitting your Tableau for Student form to verify that you’re still enrolled.

Access your copy of Tableau for Students

Tableau Public

If you do not have a budget for Tableau Desktop and you’re not a student, then Tableau Public is the right tool for you. Tableau Public is a free software which allows anyone connect to spreadsheet or file data and create interactive visualizations for the web.

Some of key distinctive features of Tableau Public include;

  • It can only connect to limited data sources.

  • It can only save work in the Tableau public server (You can’t save locally or in the Tableau server (online or self-hosted))

Note: This is a great tool for learning Tableau or creating visualization for public (data journalism).

Download a copy of Tableau Public

Tableau Public Server

Tableau public server is not a tool for authoring dashboards (although currently it supports web editing) – but a place to save dashboard for public sharing. This has been included here because as a Tableau public user or any Tableau user interested in sharing dashboard publicly, you will need to create your Tableau Public profile. This will enable you quickly save dashboards created for public use, and share them as a link or by embedding them on other sites.

Bonus Point

Other tools by Tableau which are not intended primarily for authoring dashboards include;

Tableau Online/Server – Tableau online/server is platform to empower businesses explore data in a trusted environment. This platform allows organizations build, share and collaborate around data analysis. Tableau Online being hosted by Tableau for you in the cloud while Tableau Server being self-hosted by you the client.

Tableau Reader – This is a free desktop application that you can use to open and interact with workbooks build in Tableau Desktop

Get a copy of Tableau Reader

If you are interested in learning Tableau, kindly subscribe to our mailing list below to stay tuned whenever we publish.

Thank you for reading.


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About Me

More About the Author

Bernard K

Analytics Consultant | 3X Tableau Certified

Bernard is a data analytics consultant helping businesses reveal the true power of their data and bring clarity to their reporting dashboards. He loves building things and sharing knowledge on how to build dashboards that drive better outcomes.

Let’s discuss your data challenges! Let’s work together!

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