Category Archives: Tableau

Introduction to Data visualisation

Internally at work, I run a monthly workshop introducing people to data visualisation and explaining why it is important and how we use Tableau as our tool of choice in this area.

The workshop was initially aimed at the analyst community, but as the months have gone on and the popularity of Tableau increases, I am seeing a wide variety of people attending, from our Board, to managers to people who just use Excel but want to do things better.

The workshop lasts about 90 minutes and is mostly in Prezi, before I move into showing some Tableau demonstrations and our Facebook at work pages, where people can download our colour palettes and understand some of the choices we have made.

So far, about 130 people at work have seen this and along with a few members of my team, I am writing a follow up session.

Obviously, I have not created all of this content from scratch.  A few years ago, I was lucky enough to attend Stephen Few’s three day workshop in London, based around his books at the time.  It was at this event where I first met Tableau community legends Peter Gilks and Carl Allchin.

I took my leanings from that, and converted his three books and several hundred pages into a 30 page PDF that people could use as a reference.

Following this, I also attended Andy Kirk’s workshop and have several data visualisation books in our internal library including Alberto Cairo’s book the functional art, all of which I have tried to take examples from to improve our internal guidelines and best practices.

Data viz books

At the Tableau conference in Vegas #data15, I mentioned this workshop and touched on a small part of it.  A few people in the Twitter community sent me messages and asked if I would share it.  As it was internally branded, I didn’t want to do this on a wide scale level, so thought that I would create a ‘public’ version and publish it here.

The Prezi should allow you to follow through the journey, which is based around transforming information into insight.  It obviously works better when I am present to talk through it and the examples, but hopefully it gives enough of an introduction and I am happy to talk about it in more detail or come and present it.

Click on the image below to go into the Prezi.

data viz overview

I will follow this post up with some details on setting your colour palettes as well as how you can put standards in place for your Tableau dashboards.

Tableau on an Apple Watch – Is it Possible?

For anyone who knows me, they know that I love my tech and am a very early adopter.

On a recent visit to Deloitte’s tech hub and lab where they showcase what they can do with future technology, I realised that I owned 80% of the tech they had on show, which only enhanced my early adopter status!

So when Apple announced their watch, I had to get one.  Due to making a schoolboy error during my order, I missed the launch day slot and had to wait a couple of weeks for delivery.

This didn’t stop me making daily visits to the one shop in London which had them in stock, standing in a long queue, just on the off-chance of getting one.

When I finally did get my watch, I was impressed by the crispness and quality of the screen and immediately thought how nice my Tableau dashboard would look on this.

I did some research and nobody had yet appeared to been able to get a dashboard onto the watch, so I started to look at the options available.

Could I connect to my server and view dashboards that way?  Well the short answer is no.  Not yet.  There is no web browser installed on the Apple Watch – they do not believe that it should be used that way, more as a notification device.  Was there currently an app which would allow me to try to connect?  Again, nothing which I could find.

The other question I had to answer, was how on a 42mm screen can I interact with a dashboard?  What kind of design practices would I need to follow or even compromise on to even make this work?

I kept coming back to Apples mantra of it being a notification device, hmm a notification device.

Ok so that might work.

I get daily notifications from my Tableau server, in the form of email subscriptions.  My first lands at 6:45am, whilst I am on the train, which gives me an early heads up that the incremental refresh has run on our flagship daily sales report before the subscription runs for our CEO and main board.

But how would that work and look on the Apple Watch?

Well here is the answer –

IMG_4584

And here it is again zoomed in

Apple watch zoom copy

I was blown away that the image from the subscription fills the width perfectly, obviously some clever auto resizing going on.

Now what I cannot do with this is view the quantitative data.  It is simply not possible in this default version to do that (I could create something specific but wanted to keep maintenance to a minimum).

But what I can see is the qualitative data and make some understandings from it.

My initial focus is on the seven orange / grey bullet charts.

Because this is built on an anchor date and uses an incremental refresh, if that refresh has inserted zero rows, then the top bullet would just be grey, i.e. no data for this year.  That is the visual clue I need to suspend the other subscriptions, engage IT, find the route cause of the problem and then rerun the refresh when available.

The second detail I can take away is the position of the bars in the bullet, especially for the bottom one which relates to yesterdays performance.  Orange outside grey equals better than last year, inside grey equals worse.

I can also from the map clearly see the distribution of this if not the detail.

It reinforces that our internal design standards and best practices really do translate, whether presenting on a 100″ touchscreen monitor, a laptop, iPad or Apple watch.

It also shows me that like a Treemap, if I don’t need to know the exact detail, I can still assimilate enough information from this tiny screen.

I have also tried it with a couple of other daily reports, looking at on time performance by route, base and Country.

IMG_4587 IMG_4588

Again zoomed in we get this –

delay 1

This shows me the delay by base and route, compared to the target and average, I can clearly see what they are.

delay 2

This shows Geographic performance, Orange best, Blue worst and the size of the bubble the worst in relation to number of flights, again I can clearly see where the problems are, whilst looking at my wrist.

In fact the quality is very, very good, trying to take a decent photograph of this is not quite so easy I am afraid, but if you are at the @Tableau #data15 conference, come and see me and I will be happy to show you more, I will also be demoing this during my presentation which can be found here – A single shade of Orange at easyJet

So in summary, can you currently view your server dashboards on an Apple Watch?  No.

Can you interact with Tableau dashboards on an Apple watch?  No.

But if you want to understand your qualitative data at a glance, on your wrist, and have designed a dashboard well enough to do this on a normal screen, then the answer, through email subscriptions, is a resounding YES.

Virgin Atlantic VS43 Landing gear problems and the subsequent effect on Gatwick airport

On Monday 29th September at 11:44am, a Virgin 747 took off from London Gatwick for Las Vegas.  Shortly after departure the crew discovered a problem with the landing gear, and spend several hours dumping fuel, flying past the tower for visual checks, talking to engineering and trying to troubleshoot the problem.

At 15:45 after four hours in the air, the aircraft landed successfully back on the runway at Gatwick after discovering that one of the landing gear bogey’s had not deployed.

The passengers were disembarked on the runway and the aircraft was eventually towed away, however the incident had resulted in the closure of the worlds busiest single runway for almost three and a half hours.

This viz attempts to show that story, what happened to the VS43 and also the impact on Gatwick and easyJet, the airports biggest airline.

I could not have created this visualisation without the data from the chaps at www.planefinder.net and the help and support of www.theinformationlab.co.uk and in particular Matthew Reeve, who created a similar viz recently when the UK ATC systems went down, so I have used his base as a template for this *doffs cap*.

Here is a link to the interactive viz:

VS43 screen