An Introduction to Tableau

Malcolm Katzenbach
4 min readOct 18, 2021


What is Tableau? Tableau is an analytics platform, well known for it uses in data visualizations. It was founded in 2003, and since then has become one of the dominant tools used by Business Intelligence Analysts to create data visualizations and dashboards. It is a powerful tool that reduces the technological background required to create useful and insightful data visualizations. In this post we will go over the installation and take a quick look at the Tableau Public platform.

Types of Tableau

Depending on your needs and your intended uses, there are multiple versions and licenses to choose from. There is Tableau Creator which allows for users to prepare the data for analysis. While cleaning and prepping data is usually done using another program, such as Python or SQL, there are a few tools that can help prep a brand new source of data. Tableau’s true strength comes with the ease of creating the visualizations and dashboards for analyzing the data. Another license is called Tableau Explorer, which allows access to and analysis of the data that has already been made available by the Tableau Creators. These explorers can also create their own dashboards. The final type of license for the standard Tableau platform is Tableau Viewer, which like it sounds in the name, allows one to view and interact with the produced visualizations and dashboards, but no creation capabilities.

For individuals, Tableau developers usually suggest the Tableau Creator License. However, this is a paid subscription which may be too expensive for those who just want to learn a new skill set. Thankfully, the developers have created Tableau Public which is free. There are a few limitations to Tableau Public: you cannot save your visualizations and dashboards locally and refreshing your data is limited. Due to the restrictions to saving locally, the visualizations published using Tableau Public will be available to the entire Tableau community to view and learn from. Therefore only public data should be used. Any use of private data would require the use of the standard Tableau platform. The silver lining to online publication is that it allows you to create an online portfolio of your work that can be shared with any professional networks or potential employers.

Installing Tableau Public

Installing Tableau Public is very easy. The first step is to go the Tableau Public Homepage. This can be found by simply entering “Tableau Public” into a search engine and it should be the first result to show up. All that is necessary is to enter your email address and Tableau Public will download automatically to your computer.

Screenshot of Tableau Public Home Page (

From there, follow the instructions from the installer and you will be able to use Tableau Public.

A Quick Look at Tableau Public

When you first open Tableau Public, it will open to page with a few actions you can take.

Screenshot Tableau Public App Home Page (Tableau Public)

In the center, you can open a file of visualizations and/or dashboards that you have saved to your profile. If you have just downloaded the app, there will be just a blank block of the screen with open. The left blue column allows the creation of a new file by connecting to different files such as Excel or JSON. You can also connect to a server, however this is limited in the Public version. On the right in the grey column named “Discover”, there are links to How-To-Videos, the visualization of the day, and other resources such as Tableau’s blog and sample data sets.

I hope this post helps introduce you to the platform of Tableau and how to install their free version. This is an important tool to have in your toolbox as a BI Analyst, Data Analyst, or Data Scientist. In future posts, we will go over some of the basic capabilities of Tableau Public. Thanks for reading!

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