Tableau Public Has Launched

If you've wanted to try Tableau data visualization software, now's your chance! They've just launched Tableau Public, where you can upload your data, and use the free Tableau tools to create amazing interactive charts, maps and dashboards.

This example shows Economic Indicators & Stock Market Returns, and you can select from a drop down list of market metrics to update the chart.


As the product name implies, your saved data will be public, so it's not the place to work with your top secret financial data. It's a great opportunity to experiment with the Tableau software though, using dummy data, or data that you're willing to share with the public.


With Tableau Public, you can connect to Excel, Access, and text files, with a limit of 100,000 rows of data per connection. You can save up to 50 Mb of content to the Tableau Public web servers.

Tableau Articles

There are other blogs where you can see dashboard examples, and see how people are using the software.

There's also a gallery with dashboard examples, such as the Fantasy Football 2009 Running Backs and Student Loan Default Rates.


Use Tableau Public

To get started, go to the Tableau Public page, and click the Download Tableau Public button. Then, enter your email address, and click Submit. To help you understand the software, you can watch the brief Tableau Public Preview video and the Tableau Public training videos.

After you install Tableau Public, open it, and connect to your Excel, Access or text data file. It's quick and easy to create a graph, and Tableau will help by suggesting chart types for your data.

Your work in Tableau Public desktop will be saved to the Tableau Public web servers, not on your computer. On the web servers, your data will be accessible by anyone on the internet, so don't use Tableau Public for confidential or sensitive data.

Share Your Results

After you save your work, you can share it, by embedding it on your blog or website, or by sharing a link to your data. If you create a dashboard, you can post the link in the comments here, so other people can go and take a look.


Related Links:

Last fall I wrote a couple of articles about Tableau, and uploaded a short video:

I used a trial version of Tableau for a couple of weeks, which has all the features of the paid version. I was really impressed with what the software can do, and got in touch with the Tableau people, to see if I could participate in the Tableau Public beta. The free version wasn't available yet, so they provided me with a license for the paid version, so I could keep experimenting, and post my work in their public servers.


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7 Responses

  1. Jeff Weir says:

    Just posted the following on the ManyEyes blog, but thought it worth posting here too.

    This is great for organisations that want to share visualisations of their data, but maybe not so great if they want to share the data itself. Viewers can download the data, but only in tableau’s own .twbx format. So definitely strings attached,here.

    While viewers can install tableau public on their own machines, many might not want to or might not be allowed to by their IT gatekeepers. Even if you did download Tableau Public, I’m not sure if you can still get the info out into a CSV format or .xls. I’ll try it and see what happens.
    Maybe some bright spark just needs to build an add-in that will allow Excel to read .twbx files?

  2. Thanks Jeff, and in the meantime, companies could upload their data to a public folder, in text or Excel format, and people could download that.

  3. Jeff Weir says:

    Hi again Debra.

    Some thoughts.

    Firstly, at your post “adrift in a sea of numbers” the dashboard isn’t showing in my browser. See for a screenshot. Was going to post in comments there, but I see that comments are closed for some reason.

    I’ve just been playing around with Tableau Public, and I’m finding that it’s incredibly easy to upload data and to make up individual ‘chart’ sheets, and to share it. But laying out a dashboard is incredibly frustrating. In excel, I’m used to sizing up any chart or table (or photo of a table using the photo/snapshot tool) exactly how I want it, but I’m unsure if you can do this to any major degree in Tableau. Thought I’d check in with you to see your experiences with this.

    This could be because I don’t understand well enough the concept of ‘layout containers’. These containers create an area in the dashboard where objects can be grouped, and the objects automatically adjust their size and position based on the other objects in the container.

    According to the help menu “After you create a dashboard you can add sheets and other objects to the dashboard. One type of dashboard object is a layout container.”

    Saying “one type of a dashboard object is a layout container” implies that you can add a layout container if you wish, but you don’t have to.

    But I find that if I start with a blank dashboard, and add the first sheet to it, then that sheet gets put automatically into a container.

    When adding a 2nd sheet under the first, you get an incredibly weak and subtle clue as to whether it gets put into the same container of the first, or goes into its own container. So weak that I can’t even think how to describe it here.

    Furthermore, if you have 2 containers side by side, one of them will automatically expand to fill any empty space. This is not what I want…I end up with a graph with just a few bars to be super wide…how ugly. I also see that you can’t simply have a legend floating in a graph…its got to go in a box of its own, and you’ve got to fit that box around all the other things on the screen. Whereas with Excel you can just float the legend on some white space in the graph, or even better use say Jon Peltier’s ‘label last point’ macro and do away with it altogether.

    So far, I’m both excited with this tool, and really really annoyed with it!!!

    You have any tips, wisdom, thoughts to impart regarding this?

  4. Thanks Jeff, I’ll check on the old dashboard to see what’s happening. Comments are closed on all the old posts, to keep the spam comments out.

    Yes, it would be nice if the dashboard layout options were more like an Excel worksheet or PowerPoint slide. I use adjacent empty text boxes on my dashboards, if I want to confine a chart to a specific size or location.

    If you have Tableau questions, you can probably get answers in the Tableau Forums

  5. Jeff Weir says:

    Hi Debra. I tried logging in the forums using my Tableau Public account, but couldn’t sign in. I’ve since had an email from Dan Jewett, VP, Product Management who advised that the forums user accounts aren’t linked to Tableau Public accounts yet; however, you just need to register for a forum account at

    On the containers issue, he advised that for sheets with quick filters or legends (size or color) on them, when a sheet with these items are added to a dashboard, the quick filters and legends get automatically added to the dashboard as a starting point. These get automatically added inside a vertical layout container, as most of the time folks want those to tuck up nicely to each other and be in a contained region off to the side of the main view.

    Dan’s the man! Excellent service, from a VP to boot.

  6. Thanks Jeff, for the forum registration link, and for sharing Dan’s explanation of the dashboard containers. Glad you got your answers so quickly!

  7. Jeff Weir says:

    Over at the eagereyes blog a fellow commenter – Michael W Cristiani of the Market Intelligence Group – tells me how to get the raw data out of a tableau visualisation:

    “Filter and select some data in Robert’s example above. Then, click the little table icon (leftmost icon below the viz). Follow instructions that appear, and you get .csv of the data behind the viz.”

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