Glossary of Terms
Navigating Tableau's terminology for the first time can be a tricky process as we've found out ourselves. Here's a relatively brief glossary of terms we've assembled during our experience that might help you out.
- Tableau Desktop: Tableau's flagship visualisation software that runs on Windows and MacOS. If you want to work with Tableau, you'll want a copy of this!
- Tableau Server: an online hosting platform to serve Tableau projects, accessible via a web browser.
- Tableau Prep: data preparation tool to cleanse, aggregate, merge and prepare data before visualising
- Sheet: best described as a single visualisation. A sheet is usually one single graph or chart. This is where all Tableau projects usually start.
- Dashboard: an open canvas to compile sheets, text boxes, labels, buttons etc into one view. Dashboards are usually the shared element of a workbook, and we're focusing on displaying dashboards in the Data Arena.
- Story: slide-based collections of dashboards and sheets. If a single dashboard isn't enough to communicate your data, stories enable a slide-based interaction that can step through any number of sheets and dashboards
- Workbook: a collection of your sheets, dashboards and stories. A workbook is essentially your project wrapped up into one package. Tableau Desktop creates, saves and opens workbooks.
- Dimensions: in your dataset, your dimensions are the main catagorical fields. In the CSV, these would be your column names. Dimensions represent ways to structure a visualisation e.g by "country" or "state", and are often discrete.
- Measures: metrics, the actual values aligned with dimensions that we want to see and analyse. Measures are the information that will likely be most useful.
- Marks: anything visual that represents your data is a mark, whether it be a point in a scatter-plot, or a bar in bar chart, or a slice of a pie.
- Filters: methods to reduce the amount of data being visualised. Filters can be applied to any dimension or measure e.g constraining dates, comparing only two countries etc
- Pages: a way to dissect your measures into step-through pages, e.g if you added dates to the pages shelf you could step through days, weeks or months at a time rather than visualising the entire timeline of data at once.
- Shelf: areas around the outside of the Tableau interface to structure your visualisation. Pages and Filters are shelves.
Of course, the best way to get familiar is to jump right into Tableau and start to play around with the tools available. You'll be surprised how quickly you can get started with a basic visualisation.