4 Fair questions every Tableau Rookie will ask (1/4)

We 've been there. You' ve been there. Or perhaps you are there right now. At some point, all of us have had the title "Tableau Rookie" And what a wonderful moment!

One of my favorite parts about working with Tableau at INVISO is when we can spread the awareness and usage of Tableau to brand new users. When we facilitate workshops, be it for our clients or in Public Tableau Classroom courses, we meet Tableau rookies and get to relive the experience of playing with Tableau for the first time. In this first encounter with Tableau a tsunami of "how can I.." "why does that.." and "what will this.." questions naturally arises. And suddenly you' re hooked. You already ask for more.

Therefore, we have in this blog post series collected the top 4 questions every Tableau Rookie will ask. And yes, we will of course provide the answers too. We will start out with a simple "classic" that is usually the very first question we are asked:

1) "When I try to build a viz, sometimes I get a bar chart as default, other times I get at cross-tab. Why is this?"

Knowing what Tableau will present to you when you click A and B or B and then A, is all part of getting familiar with your new favorite tool. The quick answer to this particular, and very common, question is actually quite simple:

Select your measure first = Get a bar

Select your dimension first - Crosstab

The easiest way to remember this is by thinking of a bars in a barchart as a measuring sticks. This means that when we start out by selecting our measure first we will get a measuring stick (aka. a bar). Hence, Bar = Measure. Opposite, when we start out by selecting a dimension first, Tableau does not have anything to measure. Our dimensions (usually) contain of members with alphabetical values, hence it merely provides us with a textual list of the members in the dimension we pick.

This particular question has many siblings that resembles it, with the common denominator being "what will happen when I click this and that compared to when i click that and this". Above we have answered one of these questions and we'll let the rest be up for you to explore - we don't want to rob all of your "Aha" moments after all. In the next post in this series we'll instead focus on yet another common question - custom coloring in Tableau.

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