Skip to main content

Tableau 2017 – Conference Tips!

If you’re headed to the conference, here’s a couple of pointers to prepare/look out for. I would highly recommend being organised so you can be open to random opportunities that arise.


  • If you have food allergies – pack accordingly. There’s food everywhere but all pickup food stations
  • Comfy walking shoes. The conference is MASSIVE and you’ll be on the go from breakfast of 3AM for a week.
  • Buy Conference Swag ASAP. The store was clear out by Thursday. You can always order online but its just not the same!

Learning at Conference

  • Plan your sessions ahead of time (and create back up plans). I did my schedule in Excel so I could keep track of it all. Take into account the travel time between venues if you can.
  • Make your life easy and just let go of the FOMO. There are so many amazing events and sessions. It’s going to happen – so just be happy with the plan you’ve committed to. I remember feeling so much stress on my first day and Emma from TIL also shared this sentiment. Her advice? You gotta let it go!
  • Feel free to leave a session, if a session is really terrible/too full for you to absorb information. Its about making the most of it for you.
  • Check out the Vendor Expo. I think of it as a professional development session in itself! Ask lots of questions– they’ll be happy you did.
  • Take notes during sessions. I carried my laptop around.
  • Pick good speakers. Its also tough for those preparing the sessions – its a lot of work! Some might not have a had enough time, not great public speakers etc.. so that’s going to reflect in the end product.
  • Get good seats. Last year, people in the back probably had a hard time because many of the rooms were long and skinny with no screens for the back end of the crowd.


  • Create a WhatsApp group with your travel mates
    • With 15,000 people, you’ll need it to help navigate where’s the best sessions, events etc.
  • Go out and socialize. Tableau folks are some of the friendliest, quirky data analysts around. What a world of difference it makes to meet them in person!

That’s all I can think about for now. Any others I missed? Let me know in the comments!

See you in Vegas!


Information is Beautiful – G Research Lecture Series Review

David McCandeless is a titan in data visualisation – no doubt about it. And with The Science Museum’s immersive IMAX screen, we saw the vastness of a billion dollars, examined the medical veracity of “superfoods” and proved the most controversial question of all – what is the best dog breed? (All backed with data!)

With beautiful colours, composition and storytelling, McCandeless’ approach to data visualisation invites all audiences to engage with the world around us. Like a bakery window with glossy cakes, he draws users in with data, design and a story.

But how does this message fare in a room full of quants? He demonsrates data visualization’s power to engage with his final audience game, asking a series of questions of what is more popular on Google: Beer vs Wine, Cornflakes vs Toast, Youtube vs Sex (the answer may surprise you). 400 people immediately took to the 101 of data analysis: to think, take a guess, and to revise one’s answer. By demonstrating how data visualization can bring conversation, McCandless taught an audience of all disciplines how we can be inquisitive about our data- to move from information into knowledge.

Unsurprisingly, the topic of fake news was raised during the Q&A period – how can we spot fake news? As a journalist, ad man, and designer and developer, all these talents still suggest this 1 answer: its tough to spot and trusting your source is key. Data Visualisation is powerful – use it wisely.

Here are some of my pictures from the event:

How to Analyze Year over Year Performance at the Weekday level

When I worked in industry, everyday I reported sales performance at the day level and compare its results against the same weekday the previous year.

“If we had a bad YoY comparison, did we have a big promotion the same day last year? Or if not, which categories did better or worse?”

To add to the complexity, the business had a regular promotional week where new pricing would update every Friday. So comparing Jan 6, 2017 (a Friday with new prices and promotional tactics) against Jan 6, 2016 (a Wednesday) was not helpful!

Its an excellent way to look at the business tactically, and get some actionable insights quickly. And luckily it’s really easy to do in Tableau!

Step 1: Find the same weekday last year


Step 2: Add the same datasource again

Here, I’ve added Superstore again through the other menu since it was giving me grief through the “Saved data sources” pane. This way, I can just simply navigate to the dataset sitting under “My Tableau Repository”


Step 3: Configure the blend through the Edit Relationships

Here we specify that we want the “Day/Month/Year” of Order Date and Order Date in the Previous Year to match, as well as the product subcategory. This is how we’ll be able to see which subcategories had new or declines in sales between the years.



Step 4: Validate your data post Edit Relationships

Put [Order Date] and [Order Date LY] from the same data source (the first one we pulled in) on rows and [Sales] from the same datasource on Text.

Then put [Sales] from your secondary datasource on the marks pane to create the following table.

In the view below, I’ve already renamed it to be [Sales LY] in the secondary datasource. But remember that its only because I’ve got my edit relationships set up and I’m using this as a secondary datasource that it will render sales this way. Otherwise, it will not retrieve sales from last year,


Want to check to see if its pulling in the right value? Just scroll up [Order Date] and check if its referencing the right sales amount. Here – the $732 in sales match!


Step 5: Create your Year Over Year Calculation


Then see what it looks like against time..


I find this view (while computationally correct) too messy and variable to garner any insight.

I find it much more useful when I filter the view to the last 10 days. Even better when I conditionally color it against if its done better or worse than last year!



Step 6: Build a dual axis bar chart  with [Sales] on 1 axis and [Sales LY] on the other.


Final Thoughts

In the last view, I’ve already got it filtering by a particular day, but I can easily attribute which categories I made gains in, and which ones I wasn’t able to produce better results compared to last year. Maybe the promotional tactic wasn’t as good, maybe there were extenuating factors.  But its great to know isn’t it?


Hope this will be helpful for you!







Makeover Monday – Washington Metro

Here’s my Makeover Monday contribution. For those that don’t follow the project, its where our community of data viz folks try to reinterpret and improve on an existing infographic/chart.


Here’s the original


Here’s my contribution:

How to Find Conditional Averages by Week

One interesting piece of analysis is to look at your KPIs normalized over time.

For instance, its important to know your sales in the last week, prior week, last 4 weeks.. but we wouldn’t be able to compare the results from the last 4 weeks to the last week.

But we could if we compared results all averaged to the week level of detail. Below we see results in the last 4 weeks of Superstore. We see that Sales in “TW” (This Week) were not only great, but great even compared to average performance in the last month or last 3 months.


Here’s how I did this:


Step 1: Find the last date in the dataset


Step 2: Find the last full week in the dataset

Also remember that the values you get from this calculation are driven by your configuration on which day is the start of the week. This gives me a start for Monday.


Step 3: Set up your various measure partitions by date.

Here I’m looking for dates that are 1 week in difference from my last date. Therefore, I would find the Last Week.

Here I’m looking for dates that are between 13 weeks in difference from my last date and greater than 1 week in difference. Therefore, I would find the Last 13 weeks.


Step 4: Create headers for your values (coming up soon)

This allows me to bin my values.


Step 5: Create denominators for your averages

This calculation is where the conditional average comes into play. Since we know the headers represent a certain amount of time, we can hardcode the number of weeks the value will be divisible by.


Step 6: Create your conditional sales metric.

We’ve already done a lot of legwork prior to this to line up the correct dates in the headers – so the sales values will naturally fall into the boolean statements we’ve already created. Same for the denominator values.


Its a way of looking at the business I hadn’t yet seen before but great usage of adding numbers to context. Hope you’ll get to use it soon!