Tableau Desktop Professional Edition review

Can Tableau's business intelligence program justify its high price? Karl Wright takes a closer look at the figures to find out.

Price
£1,257

Tableau Desktop Pro is a business intelligence tool that allows you to easily visualise, analyse and share large amounts of data.

Connecting to your database is easy the Pro version supports pretty much every type of database you can imagine (though annoyingly you do need to install a patch for Excel 2007 and 2010 files). You can either import your data or connect to the original source the advantage of the latter being that your Tableau workbook updates automatically as you change your source data.

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As it imports your data, Tableau also tries to identify and categorise it, for the most part successfully. For instance, some of our test data listed oil production by country and year. Tableau recognised the country names and automatically added information on the latitude and longitude of each country. This meant that without any extra data entry, in just two or three clicks, we could use the program's mapping function to create a map of production by country.

Tableau doesn't limit you to working with a single data set at once. Like an Excel spreadsheet, a single project can encompass a number of different worksheets, each using a different data source. Or, you can use the same source in different sheets, each time highlighting different aspects of the data or the same aspects in different ways.

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Once your data's in Tableau, you can illustrate it with graphs, diagrams and even maps, in ways that make relationships and trends instantly clear. The program divides your data into dimensions and measures. Roughly speaking, "dimensions" are the things that are being measured and "measures" are the actual measurements or figures.

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