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The new Data Connectivity view in Tableau 8.2

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Yesterday Tableau 8.2 was released, and a new Data Connectivity view was introduced. From now on joins of tables within a single data source will be managed visually and a total view of your data connection is available in a single window. This underpin the overall vision for Tableau to help people see and understand data – not data geniuses with an advanced skillset within databases, but all kinds of people with a basic understanding of data structures.



Overall review of the new feature

So, how is this different from the previous versions, and why is it better?

The major benefit of the new feature is, that end-users have a way more sensible way of connecting to data than the traditional way which included many clicks, lists, tabs and join types defined deeply in these menus. In previous versions this could be very hard to grasp when one had many tables joined. From now, you will have the total overview of your data in a single window including metadata configurations, applied tables and available tables in the source. This is awesome.

This window itself will not help hardcore data rock stars making slow things perform better (though Excel and other FlatFiles might seem to work better, it is caused by the new Data Connectors for these sources and not this window itself).

*How could this be even more awesome?

My first thought when I tried the new feature back in January was if Data Blending would have the same interface for merging various data sources. Unfortunately this is not the case. It would extremely awesome of Tableau to consider a similar approach for blending data together, as this might be just as tricky as joining tables. Maybe this will be included in a later release, but not for now.

Next, the new view is only available for source where it makes sense to join tables (relational sources). All other data sources has the same connection windows as previous versions. It would be nice, if the visual approach of configuring metadata was available for sources loaded into Data Extracts as well (e.g. Google Analytics).

So how can this help my organization working better with Tableau?

This new window will basically help you to keep a better overview and work more smoothly with data. If you strive to work better with data and ensure that your organization will get the best from this new feature with Tableau, you should consider following the three basic steps below:

  1. Make sure your people have access to sensible, relevant and timely data
    Data Analysis and Visual Representation of data is a very hot topic these days. To get started driving such initiatives within your organization you may start to ensure that data is accessible for relevant staff at relevant time in a sensible format. Tableau will offer some out-of-the box sources such as Salesforce, Google Analytics, Splunk etc. but most data from relevant business systems might be collected, structured with logical names and easily accessible before the Data Connectivity from Tableau will make sense to end-users.
  2. Qualify your Tableau users to have a basic understanding of data structures and join types
    When your people get access to the relevant data, the next step is to ensure that they understand the overall structure of the data and how they can be merged together. Tableau makes it very easy to communicate with the data, but one may understand the basics of data structures before one can communicate with them.You may find some resources online that will help you get up-to-speed on this. Otherwise, a classroom training session on the topic would be beneficial for this purpose.
  1. Make sure that end-users gets an understanding of the Tableau Metadata layer
    Tableau has a metadata layer which basically describes data types, formatting, standard properties etc. for each field of your data. In order to make Tableau a success in your organization, your users may have an understanding of this metadata layer in order to serve the best visualizations in Tableau.The disciplines of working with Metadata in Tableau will be introduced at the Tableau Fundamentals classroom training which I consider the very best way to qualify competences within this topic.

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