Saturday, 15 February 2014
Should Tableau and Alteryx get hitched?
Its no big secret that I love Tableau. It came into my life over 2 years ago and its turned my world upside down. If i am not creating a new viz then I am thinking about one or looking at one, or bemoaning the fact that someone used a pie chart instead of a bar. Using Tableau is like being in a warm loving embrace, you feel safe knowing that any mistakes you make will be forgiven (ahh the undo button). That when you need help "Show me" is there. And that by holding your hand Tableau leads to create a viz of beauty and wonder. Tableau is a fantastic viz tool, provided that the data you have is in the right shape. Yes you can use some calculated fields to overcome some issues but you have to be quite Jedi. If you are able to modify the data at source then great, but a lot of the time you have to work with the data you are given.
Alteryx allows to to take some data, manipulate it, transform it, modify it, analyse it and then save it to a different format than the original. It uses a very simple drag and drop mechanic, just like Tableau and lets you create simple or complex processes to turn what ever input data you have into something you can easily work with in Tableau. One of these output formats can be a Tableau Data Extract so it plays nicely with Tableau.
So we get the point of this blog post. Should Alteryx and Tableau get hitched? It would certainly make sense as they dovetail beautifully. Tableau really lacks a good ETL front end, although this looks to be improved in 8.2, this has yet to be seen in the wild. Combining the two packages would create a powerful piece of software that could create a viz from pretty much any data. However, rather than a full marriage should just have a little fling? Altreyx is very very powerful and including all its functions in a Tableau Alteryx hybrid would undoubtedly be over kill. But the commonly used tools of transforming messy data, aggregating it, renaming and reshaping the data would be an excellent addition to the front end of Tableau. I spend most of my time reshaping data before i can use it in Tableau so this would really improve my work flow, and i suspect I am not alone.