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Now Available: Communicating Data with Tableau

2014 June 16
by Ben Jones

CDWT_CoverI’m excited to announce that my first book, Communicating Data with Tableau, has been published by O’Reilly Media and is now available to purchase in ebook or print (in full color) at the O’Reilly online store or Amazon. Many thanks to my editor Julie Steele for working with me throughout the past year of writing, and to my family – my wife Sarah and my two boys Aaron and Simon – for dealing with my insane sleeping hours and sporadic moodiness over the past twelve months.

Of course a million thanks to all of the ingenious and incredibly generous members of the data visualization community – Tableau users and employees in particular. You’ve taught me much of what I included in this book.

What is it about?

This book is my attempt to show 1) how to communicate data well, and 2) how to use Tableau to do so. It’s not intended to be a comprehensive Tableau user manual, so not every feature is covered (for that type of resource, I’d recommend Tableau Your Data! by Dan Murray, as well as the helpful online tutorials available at the Tableau Software website).

Who is it for?

I wrote this book for anyone who needs to get a quantitative message across to an audience – analysts, journalists, engineers, marketers, students and researchers. Anyone with a modern browser can view and interact with the example projects that have been published to Tableau Public (free application available here), and readers will need Tableau Desktop 8.1 or 8.2 (free 14-day trial available here) to open the accompanying Tableau workbook files. There aren’t any examples that deal with the features that are new to version 8.2, which was not available to the public when the book went to print earlier this month. Expect a revision with 8.2 examples to follow later in the year or early next year.

How is it Organized?

The book is organized into 14 chapters that each deal with a different aspect of communicating data. After covering general principles and the Tableau user interface in the first two chapters, the book touches on both traditional as well as creative examples of communicating data: simple numerical comparisons, rates, ratios proportions and percentages, central tendency and variation, multiple variables, time series data, positional data, and combining multiple visualizations in dashboards.

In What Style is it Written?

While there are occasional philosophical musings (mostly in chapter 1) and even a fictional interlude into the world of “Chesslandia” in chapter 7, the book is primarily practical in nature. In 334 pages there are over 45 examples and loads of useful tips and tricks. If you’ve read my blog posts at this site, you’ll find the tone familiar. Some of the content is pulled from blog posts I’ve written over the past three years, but most of it is brand new.

For example, the book culminates with this multi-Sheet, multi-Dashboard workbook about the global expansion of the internet, as captured by World Bank data:

 

What was it like writing it?

Wow, it was at times elating, at times excruciating. It took many times longer to write than I originally scheduled (no surprise there), and the review and production processes, while affording me with many learning opportunities, were not exactly painless. As I mentioned, I felt very lucky throughout the writing process that O’Reilly and Julie Steele were willing to work with me, a first-time author. I’m sure many of my multiple “new deadline resolution” emails made Julie chuckle, but I never felt rushed or pressured to write anything other than the book I wanted to write. I can’t say how much I appreciate that.

Since my day job is as Sr. Manager of Tableau Public, and considering my blog regularly features Tableau Public “vizzes”, it’s a testament to the sheer joy of the software (and my love for working with data) that I didn’t O.D. on everything somewhere along the way. By the way, this book wasn’t sponsored in any official way by Tableau Software the company - it’s my personal project entirely. That being said, I credit my colleagues at Tableau, and none more so than my VP Ellie Fields along with the entire Tableau Public team, with providing me moral support and inspiration all along the way. Also, a special thanks to Andy Cotgreave for saying a few words on the back cover. Andy, you’re a class act, and I look forward to returning the favor. Without a doubt, I’ve found my tribe.

I’d like to hear from you!

If you buy it and read it, first, thanks for considering what I had to say. It’s a great honor to me that you would devote your time to hearing me out. Second, please let me know what you think! Email me (benjones at dataremixed dot com) or tweet me (@DataRemixed), and if you write an online review, I’ll be forever in your debt for the input and feedback – both positive and constructive. I fully intend to write more books in the future, so the more I hear about what worked for you and what didn’t work for you, the better my next books will be.

Thanks for stopping by,
Ben


8 Responses leave one →
  1. June 16, 2014

    Wow Ben, that’s wonderful news. Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it and like your blog, I’m sure it will become one of my go to resources.

    • June 16, 2014

      Thank you for the kind words, Kelly. I’d love to know what someone at your level of expertise thinks of it.

  2. Cliff permalink
    July 18, 2014

    I have enjoyed your writing style and your book fits with anyone who wants to have fun and make a living!!!
    The content you allowed us to access while we read the book is fantastic!
    Thank you and maybe we will see each other in Seattle during the conference.
    Are you giving any talks?

    • July 18, 2014

      Hi Cliff, Thanks for the kind words, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the book. I’ll be in Seattle during the conference and I’ll be running an event immediately after called Fanalytics – more info to come soon! Thanks again, see you in September.

  3. September 5, 2014

    Hi Ben, really like the book – wondering if you are planning/able to update the book with later versions of Tableau?

    • September 9, 2014

      Hi Ed! Thanks for the compliment & glad you like it. Actually, I’m working on a Ch.15 on Story Points in 8.2 right now. Not sure when it will be done just yet.

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