Developing an Ad Hoc Analysis Environment

Any time a bureaucrat (i.e., a custodian of a system) stands between you and something you need or want, your challenge is to help that bureaucrat discover a means, harmonious with the systems, to meet your need.


Tableau core design encourages discovery. In Chapter 2 you learned that Tableau connects to a wide variety of datasources, and this is further extended through data blending from external sources. Chapter 3 introduced the Show Me button, trend lines, reference line, and how filters, sets, grouping and hierarchies can be used to present information meaningfully—for facts and dimensions that are included in views.

Webster's Dictionary defines ad hoc as follows:

“Concerned with a particular end or purpose, formed or used for specific or immediate problems or needs, fashioned from whatever is immediately available.”

In this chapter you'll explore three ways Tableau facilitates ad hoc analysis:

  • Generating new data with forecasts
  • Designing flexible views using parameters
  • Changing or creating designs in Tableau Server

Desktop users can create forecasts when viewing time series data, and also get feedback from Tableau on the quality and type of forecasts Tableau generates. Desktop report designers can also build flexibility into views and dashboards using variables called parameters. Parameters allow information consumers to alter views within limits defined by the designer. Most significantly, even staff ...

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