March 2012


(this is a repost from http://tableau7.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/tableau-reader/ )

Tableau made a couple of brilliant decisions to completely outsmart its competitors and gained extreme popularity, while convincing millions of potential, future and current customers to invest own time to learn Tableau. 1st reason of course is Tableau Public (we discuss it in separate blog post) and other is a Free Tableau Reader, which provides full desktop user experience and interactive Data Visualization without any Tableau Server (and any other server) involved and with better performance and UI then Server-based Visualizations.

While designing Data Visualizations is done with Tableau Desktop, most users got their Data Visualizations served by Tableau Server to their Web Browser. However in the large and small organizations that usage pattern is not always the best fit. Below I am discussing a few possible use cases, where the usage of Free Tableau Reader can be appropriate, see it here: http://www.tableausoftware.com/products/reader .

1. Tableau Application Server serves Visualizations well, but not as well as Tableau Reader, because Tableau Reader delivers a truly desktop User Experience and UI. Most known example of it is a Motion Chart: you can see automatic motion with Tableau Reader but Web Browser will force user to manually emulate motion. In cases like that user advised to download workbook, copy .TWBX file to his/her workstation and open it with Tableau Reader.

Here is an example of the Motion Chart, done in Tableau, similar to famous Hans Rosling’s presentation of Gapminder’s Motion Chart (an you need the free Tableau Reader or license to Tableau Desktop to see the automatic motion of the 6-dimensional dataset with all colored bubbles, resizing over time):
http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/MotionChart_0/Motion?:embed=y

Please note that the same Motion Chart using Google Spreadsheets will run in browser just fine (I guess because Google “bought” Gapminder and kept its code intact):
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuP4OpeAlZ3PdC14OXU1RGJsV05uaDlxRV9GLXlTZXc#gid=2

2. When you have hundreds or thousands of Tableau Server users and more then couple of Admins (users with Administrative privileges), each of Admins can override viewing privileges for any workbook, regardless of designated for that workbook Users and User Groups. In such situation there is a  risk for violation of privacy and confidentiality of data involved, for example for HR Analytics and HR Dashboards and other Visualizations where private, personal and confidential data used.

Tableau Reader enables additional complementary method of delivering Data Visualizations through private channels like password-protected portals, file servers and FTP servers and in certain cases even by-passing Tableau Server entirely.

3. Due popularity of Tableau and ease of use, many groups and teams are considering Tableau as vehicle to delivering of hundreds and even thousands of Visual Reports to hundreds and may be even thousands of users. That can slow down Tableau Server, decrease user experience and create even more confidentiality problems, because it may expose confidential data to unintended users, like report for one store to users from another store.

4. Many small (and not so small either) organizations trying to save on Tableau Server licenses (at least initially) and they still can distribute Tableau-based Data Visualizations; developer(s) will have Tableau Desktop (relatively small investment) and users, clients and customers will use Tableau Reader, while all TWBX files can be distributed over FTP, portals or file servers or even by email. In my experience, when Tableau-based business will grow enough, it will pay  by itself for buying licenses for Tableau Server, so usage of Tableau Reader in n o way is threat to Tbaleau Software bottom line!

Update (12/12/12) for even more happy usage of Tableau Reader: in upcoming Tableau 8 all Tableau Data Extracts – TDEs – can be created and used without any Tableau Server involved. Instead Developer can create/update TDE either with Tableau in UI mode or using Tableau Command Line Interface and script TDEs in batch mode or programmatically with new TDE API (Python, C/C++, Java). It means that Tableau workbooks can be automatically refreshed with new data without any Tableau Server and re-delivered to Tableau Reader users over … FTP, portals or file servers or even by email.

In unusual, interesting (what it means? is it promising or what?) move the two Data Visualization leaders (Panopticon and Qliktech) partners today, see

http://panopticon.com/Panopticon-Software-Partners-with-QlikTech-to-Provide-Real-Time-Visual-Data-Monitoring-and-Analysis-Dashboards

“to offer enhanced, real-time visualization capabilities for the QlikView Business Discovery platform”.

Panopticon’s press-release looks overly submissive to me:

“As a member of QlikTech’s Qonnect Partner Program for Technology Partners, Panopticon supports QlikView desktop, web, and mobile interactive dashboards and allows users to filter and interact directly with real-time data. By integrating Panopticon into their systems, QlikView users can:

The combined Panopticon-QlikView platform is now available for immediate installation.”

Panopticon integration into QlikView dashboards utilizes QlikView UI extension objects within the web browser. The extension object calls Panopticon “web parts” and creates a Panopticon extension object with a number of pre-defined properties. The defined context/data is passed into the Panopticon extension object. The Panopticon “web parts” call a Panopticon EX Java applet and renders the requested Panopticon visualization workbook within the context defined by the QlikView user. The Panopticon component executes parameterized URL calls and parameterized JavaScripts to update the parent QlikView display.

Qliktech is trying to be politically correct and its Michael Saliter, Senior Director Global Market Development – Financial Services at QlikTech said, “Our partnership with Panopticon allows us to incorporate leading real-time visualization capabilities into our QlikView implementations. We recognize the importance of providing our clients with truly up-to-date information, and this new approach supports that initiative. Our teams share a common philosophy about proper data visualization design. This made it easy to develop a unified approach to the presentation of real-time, time series, and static data in ways that people can understand in seconds.”

While I like when competitors are cooperating (it benefits users and hopefully improve sales for both vendors), I still have a question: Qliktech got a lot of money from IPO, had a lot of sales and hired a lot of people lately; why they (Qlikview Developers) was not able to develop real-time functionality themselves?

Hugh Heinsohn, VP of Panopticon, said to me: “we (Panopticon) don’t see ourselves as competitors – and neither do they (Qliktech). When you get into the details, we do different things and we’re working together closely now”

Another indirect sign of relationship between Panopticon and Qliktech is the recent inclusion of Måns Hultman, former CEO of QlikTech into the list of advisors for Panopticon’s Board of Directors.

Other questions are rising too: if Qliktech suddenly is open to integration with Panopticon, why not to integrate with Quantrix and R Library (I proposed integration with R a while ago). Similar questions applicable to Tableau Software…

I was silent for a while for a reason: I owe myself to read a big pile of books, articles and blog posts by many authors – I have to read it before I can write something myself. List is huge and it goes many weeks back! I will sample a sublist  here with some relatively fresh reading materials in no particular order:

1. Excellent “Clearly and Simply” blog by Robert Mundigl, here are just 2 samples:

2. Interesting site dedicated to  The Traveling Salesman Problem:

3. Excellent QV Design blog by Matthew Crowther, here are a few examples:

4. Good article by James Cheshire here:

5. Interesting blog by Josh Tapley: http://data-ink.com/

6. A must read blog of Stephen Wolfram, just take a look on his 2 last posts:

7. Nice post by my friend John Callan: http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/2012/03/09/why-discovery-really-matters

8. I am trying to follow David Raab as much as I can:

9. As always, interesting articles from Timo Elliott:

10. Huge set of articles from variety of Sources about newly released or about to be released xVelocity, PowerPivot2, SQL Server 2012, SSDT (SQl Server Data Tools), VS11 etc.

11. Here is a sample of article with which I disagree (I think OBIEE is TWO generations behind of Qlikview, Tableau and Spotfire), but still need to read it:

http://www.projectedconsulting.com/index.php/component/wordpress/2012/03/qlikview-versus-bi-applications-and-obiee

this list is go on and on and on, so answer on my own question is: to read!

Below is a prove (unrelated to Data Visualization, but cannot resist to publishing it – I did the spreadsheet below by myself) – rather for myself, that reading can help to avoid mistakes (sounds funny, I know). For example if you will listen last week’s iPropaganda from iChurch, you will think that new iPad 2012 is the best tablet on market. But if you read carefully specification of new iPad 2012 and compare it (after careful reading) with specifications of new Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, you will have a different choice:

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