Getting a Lay of the Land in Tableau

An introduction to Tableau terminology

In many ways, Tableau is its own language. This video will help orient you with the Tableau Authoring interface and introduce the lingo we’ll be using to converse about Tableau moving forward.

Hi. This is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’m going to give you a general lay of the land. I’m going to share some Tableau terminology for you that we’ll be using throughout the rest of the videos on the Tableau track.

So this is the authoring interface. We’ll show you how to make this in a future video, but this chart type is called a scatter plot. I’m just using it to help illustrate different components of this interface.

The first thing to know is, much like a lot of software programs, here along the top, this would just be called the top navigation. The first thing that’s unique to Tableau is this left-hand side of the authoring interface, which is what this entire area is called. This left-hand side, there are two tabs– Data and Analytics. Those are called the Data pane and the Analytics pane, respectively.

Most of the work that you do in Tableau will take place on the Data pane. So we’ll discuss that now.

The first thing that you’ll see on the Data pane is the Data Source that you’re connecting to. We’re only connecting to one Data Source at the moment– that Sample Superstore Excel file. But you can connect to more than one thing at a time. And all the Data Sources that you’re connected to will show up here under the word Data– the very top of the Data pane.

The next area of the Data pane is called the Dimensions area of the Data pane. This is where Tableau puts all of the fields that it’s classified as Dimensions. The next area is called the Measures area of the Data pane. This is where Tableau puts all the fields that it classified as Measures. So anything quantitative by default will show up down here in the Measures area of the Data pane.

You can see two additional areas of the Data pane appear, depending on what you’ve created in your Data Source. You can also see a Sets area of the data pane as well as a Parameters area of the Data pane. From there, Tableau wasn’t super creative. Almost everything else is called a shelf.

The first one is called a Pages shelf. And you’ve got the Filters shelf. This next one is a little bit different. This is referred to as the Marks shelf. And within the Marks shelf, there’s a couple of things that are unique.

You can choose the mark type. And by the way, marks in Tableau is synonymous with data point. On this scatter plot, because our mark type is circle, each data point– or, as Tableau calls them, marks– is a circle. You can change that using this dropdown menu.

Also different on the Marks shelf is each one of these little squares. Those are referred to as Marks Cards. This is called the Marks shelf, the Mark type, and Marks cards because everything you add in this area is going to influence the Marks on the view or the data points on the view.

We’ve got a couple of legends that have appeared based on what we’ve drawn so far. This is a color legend. There’s also a size legend.

Probably most importantly, though, in all of Tableau, are these two shelves– the Columns shelf and the Rows shelf. They’re called the Columns shelf and the Rows shelf because any field that you put on the Columns shelf will draw a column on the view. Any field that you put on the Rows shelf will draw a row on the view.

So in this case, with our scatter plot right now, we’ve got the measure of sales in the columns shelf. So it’s drawing a column vertically. That’s what’s giving us the x-axis for sales. On the Rows shelf, we’ve got the profit measure. So it’s drawing a row for profit left to right, which is generating this y-axis for profit.

This entire area is called a Worksheet or the View. A couple of little things that might also come up– up here in the top right corner is a feature called Show Me. This allows you to lay a foundation for 24 different chart types in Tableau. And then lastly, once a field is added to one of the shelves, it inherits this kind of oblong shape. For that reason, the slang term for that is called pill.

So just a couple of sentences that I might say throughout the training in Playfair Data TV– I might say, drag the Sales measure from the Measures area of the Data pane, and drag it to the Columns shelf. Or maybe once it’s there, I could say drag the Sales pill from the Columns shelf, and move it to the Color Marks Card.

This has been Ryan with Playfair Data TV – thanks for watching!