What a week!

This week we (Cohort 10) started from where everyone who applies for The Data School starts, learning Tableau Public/Desktop. Starting with the basics and working our way through to more intermediate topics we certainly packed a lot of learning in to just one week. And while I like to believe I had a good understanding on some of the topics covered, learning everything from the beginning helped fill in any gaps as well as provided more context.

For example, one of those gaps that seems so straightforward now is the use of Shared Axis. Simple in concept and easy to implement this is an example of how learning Tableau from scratch helped me.

Sets and Set Actions is another example. In one of my applications to The Data School I used Sets and Set Actions. At the time I saw the benefit of using them but didn’t fully comprehend exactly how they worked or their multiple use cases. Covering Sets and Set Actions in our lessons, I feel confident that I can effectively use them in future visualisations.

In addition to Tableau Desktop, we learnt how to use Tableau Prep Builder.


Tableau Prep Builder

Tableau Prep Builder allows users to prepare data by combining, and cleaning data in a visual and direct way. While we can perform some functions in Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep Builder adds functionality and streamlines the data preparation phase. With its easy-to-use interface and simple use of colour, Tableau Prep allows users to:

    • import and export data from/to numerous data types,
    • work with large data sets,
    • create calculated fields,
    • track all changes made to the data,
    • explore the data before exporting it to another program and
    • preview the data in Tableau Public/Desktop.

Learning how to manipulate data with Tableau Prep Builder, we were tasked with taking on a data preparation challenge. The challenge chosen, created by Data Preppin’ for the data community to test their skills was 2021: Week 29 – Tokyo 2020 Calendar. The task for this challenge was to prepare data that could then be transformed into an Olympic Schedule.  Working with the starter data, I was able to complete the challenge and produce the desired result.


Week 2 Challenge 

To wrap up the week, we were challenged to update and improve one of our visualisations using our newfound knowledge that we had learnt throughout the week. While we were given ample time, I personally found it difficult in deciding how and what to update from my original visualisation. This was very apparent in my presentation as I ended up showing an incomplete visualisation – which I was not happy with. While the feedback I received was not surprising, it did reinforce the need to tell a story from the data and to find a focal point to highlight functionality rather than just exploring functionality incorporated into the visualisation.

Reflecting on how I approached this week’s challenge, I think a solid plan and concept would have been beneficial. In next week’s challenge I’m going to allocate time to create a concept and story factor before jumping straight into designing.

Bring on next weeks Challenge!


Scott Johnston
Author: Scott Johnston