I stopped comparing DV (Data Visualization) products in 2012, when Qliktech stopped updating Qlikview. Since popularity of this blog started with that comparison, visitors kept asking me, especially when Gartner releases its Magic Quadrant (see generic MQ description here:


for BI every February of every year). MQ idea is obviously damn, because you cannot fit multi-dimensional relationship into 2-dimensional space.

However 2016 Gardner Report here:

contains a lot of ”useful” info, like list of competitors and factors defining their positions on market. Gartner finally removed Spotfire, IBM, SAS, SAP and Microstrategy for the list of Leaders, leaving among leaders only 3 – obvious one (Tableau, especially Tableau 10), buzzword-rich Microsoft (PowerBI) and losing QLIK (Qlik Sense will not save it). To express my opinion, I simply reshuffle all competitors and placed them in order obvious to me (X – functionality, Y – “ability to execute”, color – the ease to use, size is popularity; I also included D3 but I am not comparing it!):

Data Visualization Leaders, Visionaries, Challengers and Niche Players

I found more useful for me the Gartner’s Analysis of Ownership cost of BI Platform:

Also if you interested to review historical changes in “MQ”, see this:!/vizhome/GartnerBIAnalyticsQuadrant2016/MagicQuadrant

and here:

Update for April 2016: vendor’s inclusion into Gartner’s MQ may decrease vendor’s market capitalization.

Happy New 2016 Year from Andrei

It deserved to be mentioned that since May 17, 2013 until December 31 of 2015 (last trading day of 2015) share price of Tableau (symbol DATA, in orange color on chart below) in average grew 7 cents per day while share price of its main competitor QLIK oscillating around $32 for entire period of 662 trading days (see green line/area on chart below):

As of December of 2015, Tableau employs about 2800 people (Happy New Year to them!) and planning to hire 1000 more in 2016. Also (among those 2800) the company employs about 500 people across eight international locations.

Since inception in 2009, this blog had more than million visitors (Happy New Year to all of them!), averaging (it was more than 600000 pageviews total during 2014-15) lately about 25000 pageviews per month.

Tremendous success of TC15 convinced me to return to my blog to write about Tableau’s history. Part 1 “Self-Intro” covers 2003-7 from version 1 to 3, Part 2 “Catching-up” covers 2008-10 from versions 4 to 6, Part 3 “Competition” covers 2011-13 from version 6 to 8 and Part 4 “Tableau the Leader” covers 2013-15 from version 8.1 to 9.2.

During last 25 months Tableau published 6(!) releases: 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 9.0, 9.1 and 9.2 – in average one release per 4 months, leaving competitions far behind (version 9.3 expected in Q1 of 2016 and 10.0 in the summer(?) of 2016). [For comparison the QLIK released only one new update (Qlikview 12 in December of 2015) in last 4 years and as result lost its leading position (I do not consider Qlik Sense as competitive product)]. By end of 2015 Tableau became the leader in sales and in number of employees, while keeping the highest YoY growth among competitors.

As true and wise leader, Tableau made its software available to millions of people for free: each student, teacher, and even each member of administration of academic organization can use it for free and each small non-profit organization can use it for free too! Tableau Public vastly increased its capacity, allowing its users to save up to 10 million rows and even protect their workbooks from download.

8.1. November 2013. Tableau finally became 64-bit (no limit for 4GB RAM now – it was way overdue) multi-threaded product and added support for SAML. Among new features: some integration with R, copy content between workbooks, Box-and-Whisker Plot:

679boxplots8.2. June 2014. Native Tableau Desktop for Mac is released to please many snobs, Story Points (along with worksheets and dashboards) available now for data-storytelling (need for PowerPoint is much less now), new data connectors to text, excel, SAP HANA, Splunk, API for Google BigQuery and REST API, new Data Window:


new map designs (together with Stamen) and map server, worldwide zoom level, high DPI displays:


8.2.2. September 2014. Tableau Customer conference 2014.

8.2.5. November 2014. This historical release enabled the non-administrative user to use remote “READONLY” user (of Tableau’s administrative PostgreSQL database) to be used for creating dashboards, monitoring Tableau Server, its users, HTTP traffic, workbooks usage and data extracts.

8.3. December 2014. Added Single Sign-On and Delegated Access with Kerberos for enterprise security.

9.0. April 2015. Now you can view proximity in the radial selection tool:


Also 9.0 directly connects now to statistical files from SAS, SPSS and R, new data connectors added for Spark SQL, Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Amazon Redshift, improved performance of Salesforce connector, added Data Interpreter and Pivot-split cross tab:


Tableau 9 accelerated execution of queries (enabled parallel, consolidated and reused queries, cashing), added analytics pane:


, fast marks and tooltips,


level-of-details (LOD) expressions:


Here is a video with review of Tableau 9.0 features:

Here is a demo of new LASSO selector:

9.1. September 2015. New Data Connectors: Web Data Connector, Amazon Aurora, Google Cloud SQL, Microsoft Azure, SAP BW, Tableau SDK for creating and publishing data extracts (C, C++, Python, Java). Also free iPad app “Vizable” was part of 9.1 release and announced on TCC15.

9.2. December 2015. Tableau 9.2 added new Tableau Mobile app for iPhone (still Android was ignored!), added integration with Mapbox:


Added hierarchical treemaps; placement of totals at top, bottom, left and right; using any worksheet as filter:


and making permission granularity not just for workbooks and datasources, but for projects as well.

I wish a Happy New Year to all visitors of this blog, to members of Tableau Community and to 2016 Tableau Zen Masters:2016ZenMasters

and of course I wish Tableau 10.0 to be released as soon as possible, because I hope to get rid of all this

idiotic data blending,

which Tableau forcing us to do for many years and I wish to start using cross-DB join statements, cross-DB filters and everything cross-DB (it was promised on TCC15!). And I hope eventually Tableau will implement its own internal in-memory database with support for columnstore (that will take away from QLIK the last argument it has). 

This is Part 3 of the short history of Tableau, inspired by huge success of TC15. Previous blogposts can be found here (Part 1, self-intro): and Part 2 (catching-up) here: . After reviewing this article I have to acknowledge that the big contributor to Tableau success was (in addition to Tableau itself) … Qliktech. Judge it for yourself:

6.0. July 2010. Qliktech’s IPO created $2B-$3B public company, legitimized the Data Visualization Market and proved that traditional BI tools (like Microstrategy, Cognos and Business Objects) are in deep decline. In short it created the fertile ground for future (2013, 3 years after QLIK’s IPO) Tableau’s IPO. Please note (see chart below) that QLIK’s YoY growth was below 100% even in pre-IPO years (as oppose to much faster YoY growth for Tableau).

QVYoY116.0. October 2010. Around 10/10/10 the Qliktech released Qlikview 10 which sets the high bar for Data Visualization competitors and only 2 of them were able to pass it: Spotfire and Tableau.


6.0. January 2011. Success of Qlikview 10 convinced the BI thought leader Mr. Donald Farmer to leave Microsoft for leading role @Qliktech and for exciting opportunity to define the future of Qliktech’s products.


In my humble opinion Donald led (of course it was team “efforts”) Qliktech from the winning product (Qlikview) to cool, wonderful but losing product (Qlik.Next or Qlik Sense) and unintentionally helped Tableau to become a leader and the winner. It was amusing to see that Donald’s title changed from VP of Product Management to VP of “Innovation and Design” approximately the same time when Qlik Sense was initially released (summer of 2014).

6.1. November 2011. Around 11/11/11 the Qliktech released Qlikview 11, which turned to be the last functional update of Qlikview until December of 2015, when Qlikview 12 was finally released after 4 years of unjustifiable and self-defeating delays.

7.0. December 2012. Qlikview 12 was not released on 12/12/12 as expected (that was huge gift to Tableau). Instead Qliktech started the development of new product Qlik.Next (much later released as Qlik Sense) in hope that it will replace Qlikview and Qlikview community will migrate to Qlik Sense.

8.0. May 2013. Tableau’s IPO created initially $3+B public company, which quickly double its capitalization and become the leader of Data Visualization market. Tableau was and is only company on this market, who was able to keep 75%-100% (or more) YoY growth for many years until 2015.

8.0. October 2013. In its self-defeating announcement Qliktech declared it is not in rush to release Qlikview 12 and instead it will focus it development on Qlik.Next (which will be eventually released as Qlik Sense), completely yielding the leadership position (in Data Visualization market) to Tableau, see part 4 of this series. That announcement convinced me to stop comparing (at least on my blog) “leading” Data Visualization products – since the release of Tableau 8.1 (new leader in my opinion) in November of 2013 everybody else was just trying to catch-up and so far Tableau managed to be ahead of competition.

6.1. August 2011. Tableau 6.1 introduced the “mobile BI” in form of iPad app (that created bad Tableau’s habit to ignore more popular Android as mobile environment) and support of mobile Safari browser.


Tableau 6.1 Server views are automatically touch-enabled and filters, parameters, pages and even highlighting all accommodate finger selection and resized accordingly, all scrollable areas can be dynamically scrolled with a finger swipe, all zoomable areas like maps can be zoomed in or out by pinching the screen.

In version 6.1 Tableau added localization to French and German; postcodes for AUS, CA, FR, Germany, NZ and out codes for UK; Pan and Zoom inside maps; Custom layout legends; Links on dashboard images etc.

Tableau wrote own text file parser which is faster than previously used JET parser; new parser can work with files of any size as oppose to 4GB limit, imposed by JET. Version 6.1 added the ability to append data extract from file:


enables an incremental refresh of data extract by adding only new records from data source by identifying new rows by some special (preferably containing only unique values for each record) data field, like timestamp:


and added the ability to refresh (in one operation) all data extracts used in workbook (very useful).

7.0. January 2012. Tableau 7.0 added new chart types like area charts, filled and wrapped maps, parameter functions, new statistical capabilities (for example t-values and p-values for trend modeling, exponential modeling for trend lines, summary stats, confidence bands), NULL values management.

Version 7 introduced Data Server, which allows the publication of shared data extracts, pass-through data connections and metadata, central location for all data sources, easy management of schedules for data extracts. Tableau server 7.0 supports now multi-tenancy in form of multiple sites where sites users, workbooks and data separated by site “firewalls”.

Tableau 7.0 added “Show Me” Dialog box:


8.0. March 2013. Among new features in Tableau 8.0: Web and Mobile Authoring/Editing: , support for local rendering, filtering, highlighting and even local URL actions:


Tableau Server now dynamically determines where to best perform rendering and interactive updates – on the server or in your local browser. Tableau decides on-the-fly whether it will be faster to perform actions right in your browser with local rendering, or query Tableau Server. This behavior is automatic, so you don’t have to think about it. Local rendering can speed up your analysis dramatically, especially when on a slow connection to Tableau Server.

Tableau 8 provides an application programming interface (API) to enable developers to directly create a Tableau Data Extract (TDE) file.


The API works with C/C++, Java, and Python and can be used from Windows. Developers can use this API to generate TDE files from on-premise software and software-as-a-service. Tableau can then connect natively to these extract files. After you open a TDE file in Tableau Desktop, you can publish the extract to Tableau Server. This API lets you systematically get data into Tableau when there is not a native connector to the data source you are using. You can explore the Tableau Data Extract API documentation and get started by downloading the API itself , also see

8.0. July 2013 – Tableau Online: see spec and demos here: and video overview is here:

and here:

Tableau intentionally limited its cloud product to workgroup usage with 100 GB total per account storage, shared between limited number of users ($500 per user per year).  Tableau sales openly suggesting that Tableau online can be used by group with no more than 35 users.

This is the Part 2 of my post about Tableau’s history. Part1 “Tableau self-intro: 2003-7” was published on this blog earlier. The text below is based on Tableau’s attempt to re-write own history, version by version. What is below is said by Tableau, but interpreted by me. Part 1 “Intro” covers 2003-7 from version 1 to 3, Part 2 (this article) “Catching-up” covers 2008-10 from versions 4 to 6. Recent Q3 of 2015  ($171M revenue) financial results showing that Tableau keeps growing faster than anybody in industry, so interest to its history remaining high among visitors of my blog.

In 2010, Tableau reported revenue of $34M, $62M in 2011 (82% YoY), $128M in 2012 (106% YoY). The company’s 2013 revenue reached $232M, an 81% growth over 2012’s $128M.  2014 revenue exceeded $413M (78% YoY) and in 2015 Tableau expected $650M revenue (57% YoY), more than QLIK:


In Multi-line Chart above (data are from Morningstar, for example: the width of the each line reflects the value of Year-over-Year growth for given company for given year (Tableau is blue, Qliktech is green and Microstrategy is orange; unfortunately Spotfire sales data are not available since 2008, thanks to TIBCO). Here is Tableau’s revenue for last 5 quarters:


Tableau’s success has many factors but in my opinion the 5 main contributors are:

  • In 2007 TIBCO bought Spotfire, making it incapable to lead;
  • Both Spotfire and Qliktech left their R&D in Sweden while scattered other offices in US;
  • Release of free Tableau reader in 2008 – brilliant marketing move;
  • Release of free Tableau Public in 2010 – another brilliant marketing move;
  • Gift from Qliktech in 2011-2015 (more about that in Part 3 or 4 of this blog post).

4.0. 2008. Integrated Maps added: “Data elements such as city, state and country are now automatically recognized as mappable dimensions, and users can also assign geospatial rules to selected dimensions. Once maps are created, users can also change the way data is presented and drill down into the underlying information without a need to understand map layers or complex geographic parameters”.

“Other upgrades in Tableau 4.0 include support for embedding visualizations within Web applications, Web sites and portals such as Microsoft SharePoint. Conversely, Web applications can also be embedded into Tableau”.

In 2008 Tableau released the free Tableau Reader and enables server-less distribution of visualization with full Windows UI experience. “Getting an unlimited free trial into the hands of thousands of people raises awareness among people who are interested in analyzing data, while at the same time training them in its use”. Also see old video here:

5.0. 2009. Tableau enables Views and Dashboards to act Visual Filters, which improves tool’s ability to drill-down data. Such actions can be local and global. Tableau Server now is capable of multi-threading and it can be distributed among multiple hardware boxes or virtual machines, greatly improve scalability and performance.

New Data sources and connectors introduced: Postgres 8.3, Oracle 11g, MySQL 5.1, Vertica v3, Teradata 13, DB2 v9.5 ; Tab, Space, Colon and Pipe delimited flat files, custom geocodes.

5.1. 2010. Added reference lines, bands and distributions, added bullet charts and box-and-whisker charts, expanded set of available pallets, enabled the customization of titles, annotations, tooltips, dashboard sizes,


actions and filters. Tableau 5.1 extended the support for Teradata and Essbase.

Tableau Public. 2010. In its 2nd brilliant marketing move (1st was the release of free Tableau Reader in 2008) the free Tableau Public was released and that instantly made Tableau as the leader in Data Visualization field.

6.0. 2010. The evil Data Blending was introduced in version 6 due an inability of Tableau to join tables from multiple databases and datasources. This architectural bug will be partially fixed in 2016 (Tableau 9.2 or later – it was not clear from TC15 announcement), but real solution can be achieved only when Tableau will implement own internal in-memory DBMS (preferably capable to support columnstore).

Data Engine was introduced as the separate process, which in theory is capable to optimize the creation of Data Extracts and the usage of available RAM as well as take advantage of available disk space so Data Extract can be larger than available RAM. Among new features are improved server management; parameters, which can accept user’s input; suite of table calculations; and drag-and-drop UI for creating Ad-hoc hierarchies.

Below is a screenshot of my drill-down dashboard I did originally in Qlikview and then redid in Tableau 6 to prove that Tableau can do as much drill-down as Qlikview can (using Tableau’s Dashboard Actions):


Image above has an interesting “story”: since it was published on this blog more than 4 years ago it was copy-pasted (in many cases “stolen” without credit to me!) and used as the showcase for Tableau by many blogposts, articles and other publications and “authors”, who disrespect the elementary quoting/crediting rules since internet allows copy/paste operations and leaving up to those people to be polite or disrespectful.

The indirect prove of the brilliancy of Tableau’s marketing moves (free Tableau Reader and free Tableau Public) in 2008-2010 is the volume of the internet searches (thanks to for Tableau and its 6 nearest competitors in 2009-14:


In follow-up I am planning the Part 3: Tableau competes, 2011-13 and Part 4: Tableau the leader, 2013-15.

I was accused by many that I like Tableau too much. That is wrong: in fact I love Tableau but I will try to show below that love can be “objective”. Tremendous success of TC15 (with 10000+ attendees, unmatched by any competitor; 1st conference in 2008 attracted only 187 people) convinced me to return to my blog to write about Tableau’s history – it is interesting how it came to be.


Tableau was spun out of Stanford in 2003, from project Polaris, led by professor Pat Hanrahan and Chris Stolte. It was originated at Stanford as a government-sponsored (DoD) research project to investigate new ways for users to interact (including VizQL) with relational and OLAP databases. In 2004 Tableau got $5M from VCs. In 2005, Hyperion (now Oracle owns Hyperion) began to offer a Tableau under the name “Hyperion Visual Explorer“.

By end of 2010 Tableau had 4 products: Tableau Desktop ($1999 for Pro edition), Tableau Server ($10000 for 10 users), Tableau (free) Reader and Tableau (free web service) Public. In 2010 Tableau had about $34M revenue and was one of the fastest growing software companies in the world (123% YoY). Even in Q3 of 2015 Tableau’s revenue was $171M, 64% up from Q3 of 2014 and it was twice more than entire Tableau’s revenue over period of 2003-10. Overall for last 5 years Tableau had explosive (and unsustainable by industry standards) 75% or above growth; that YoY revenue growth (and Tableau expects $650M for entire 2015) presented in bar chart below:


The text below is based on recent Tableau’s attempt to re-write own history, version by version. Also I reused some posts from this blog – I already covered in my blog versions 6.0 (in 2010) and then 6.1, 7.0, 8.0, 8.0 Desktop, 8.0 server8.1, 8.2, Tableau Online, Tableau Reader, Tableau Public.

I will follow this pattern with one exception (and I promise to avoid the marketing BS like “revolutionary innovation”). I will start with something which is still is not here yet at the end of 2015. Noted by me before: No MDI, no re-sharing of workbook infrastructure with other workbooks, no internal DB (ugly data blending instead), no in-memory columnstore, wrong approach to partners etc.

What is below is said by Tableau version by version, but interpreted by me (my blog, my opinions, my interpretation). Part 1 “Intro” covers 2004-7 from version 1 to 3, Part 2 “Catching-up” covers 2008-10 from versions 4 to 6, Part 3 “Competition” covers 2011-13 from version 6 to 8 and Part 4 “Leading the field” covers 2013-15 from version 8.1 to 9.1, including Tableau Online.

1.0. 2004.

Introduction of VizQL allowed less coding (but required a lot of drag-drops, clicks, resizing and other gymnastics with mouse, which seems more acceptable to wider population – Tableau insists on “anyone, anywhere”). Tableau 1.0 can access to Access, Excel, Microsoft Analysis Services Cubes!), MySQL, SQL Server 2000. Data from multiple tables have to be denormalized (this proved overtime to be the weakest part of the tool) into one table before importing into Tableau.

I am not sure why even in 2015 the Tableau insists on its own self-assessment that it works as fast as you can think – that is offensive to thinkers.


Tableau 1.0 was available in three editions. The $999 Standard Edition can connect to Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, or plain text files. The $1299 Professional (MySQL) edition adds MySQL to the list of supported data sources, while the $1799 Professional edition extends the list to include Microsoft SQL Server and SQL Server Analysis Services.

2.0. 2006.

Tableau 2.0 added the ability to join tables in the same database. Added the ability to create Data Extracts and work offline without live connection to data. New features: Distinct Counts and Median aggregations, new “Size” shelf (marks will be sized proportionally to the value of the field in that shelf), new “Page” shelf (useful for animations, see example of it I did a while ago):

Here the content of this video as the presentation with 24 Slides:

Tableau 2.0 also added optional trend and reference lines, calculated fields (can be used with formulas, with all functions and with custom SQL and MDX expressions). 3 Screenshots below preserved for us by Stephen Few in his reviews of Tableau 2.0 and 3.0.


Tableau 2.0 is priced at $995 for the standard edition and $1,799 for the professional edition, including one year of software maintenance and unlimited technical support.

3.0. 2007.

Tableau Server introduced so people can see visualizations through browser over intranet or internet. When visualization application is published from Windows Desktop to Tableau Server (which is in fact, application server), it will be converted to web application: no downloads, plugins or coding required and all related data-sources will be published on that server.

Among other new features: new Sorting “shortcuts”,


as well as Ad-hoc grouping, Auto-calculated reference lines, annotations and most importantly, dashboards with global filters. Tableau missed the opportunity to introduce the MDI into multi-view dashboards and this design bug persisted even now in 2015 – tool still using non-MDI containers (panels) instead of MDI child-windows for each chart. Another problem (in Tableau 3.0) was that views in dashboard updated sequentially and not in-parallel.


By 2007 Tableau employed just 50 people but it was just a beginning:


In 2007 the Tableau Software company got lucky, because TIBCO bought Spotfire that year and it greatly restricted the ability of Spotfire to lead Data Visualization field. Another luck for Tableau was a strategic mistake by both Qliktech and Spotfire to leave development teams in Sweden while placing their HQs, sales, marketing etc. elsewhere in multiple US locations. Tableau got lucky one more time later thanks to gift from Qliktech but I will discuss it later in Part 3 or 4 of this blog-post. As mentioned above, I am planning the Part 2 of this post: Tableau is catching-up, 2008-10, then Part 3: Tableau competes, 2011-13 and finally the Part 4: Tableau the leader, 2013-15

2 year ago the IPO instantly created almost $3B of market capitalization for Tableau Software Inc. and since then it almost tripled, making Tableau the most “valuable” Data Visualization company (click on image to enlarge):


Tableau more then doubled the number of its Full-Time employees (almost 2200 now, roughly the same (or more?) as QLIK has) and more then doubled its Revenue (again, roughly the same as QLIK has). Tableau’s YoY growth still in range of 77%-100% per year, which is far, far more then any competition:


Combination of that growth with technological progress and new features of Tableau’s products led to huge growth of its share price – it reached in 1st week of June 2015 $115, while Qlik’s share price is hovering around $37 or even below (click on image to enlarge):


Visitors to this blog kept asking me of what is most impressive (for me) about Tableau and what are my concerns. I will list just 3 of each:

  • most impressive: YoY (Year-over-Year growth ratio); migration to 64-bit (finally) and performance improvements; and  increasing capacity of Tableau Public to 10 million rows and 10 GB storage.
  • concerns: rumors that price of Tableau Server will be increased (I heard doubled; that can slow down the growth and the popularity of Tableau); moving CEO to Europe away from HQ (repeating of mistake of Spotfire and Qliktech, who had/have R&D in Europe – away from american HQ);  and limited capacity of Tableau Online (basically it can be good only for small workgroup).

Not all of its huge success can be contributed to Tableau itself:

QLIK for example did not release Qlikview version 12 for last 4 years (but kept updating the last version, recently with release 11 (!) of Qlikview version 11.2). Another help Tableau got from TIBCO, who kept Spotfire inside strict corporate cage and went private with little change for Spotfire to be a spin-off. As a result, competition for Tableau during last 2 years was weaker then before its IPO and we are witnessing a massive migration to Tableau from competitive products.

Don’t assume that Tableau is slowing down: I visualized (using Tableau Public of course, see it here:!/vizhome/Data2Months/TableausMarketCap ) the Tableau’s Market capitalization during last 52 business days and it keeps growing at least as fast as last 2 years:

Tableau's Market Cap

Update 6/7/15: finally, just check the number of Job Openings @Tableau – 344 (as of today 6/7/15), @QLIK – 116 (3 times less then Tableau!), and only 1 (ONE!) opening for Spotfire… If you still think that Microstrategy can compete with Tableau, then please keep this in mind: as of today Microstrategy’s total number of Job Openings is … 50.

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