Tableau’s highly anticipated 8.2 release is imminent if not already launched by the time this article posts. I covered quite a few of the wild and exciting new features that were showcased at the Tableau Customer Conference in an article last September. Here is a quick refresher of what you can play with in the latest downloads:
Improved data connectivity
This is my personal favorite, much needed improvement! Tableau will now have a visual join connection experience. The new visual connection flow includes data previews so you can confirm that you have the right fields and data types. Creating joins in your data connections has vastly improved and is warmly welcome. There is an excellent video demo available of this new feature by Ellie Fields you can watch to better understand this much nicer connection user experience.
Mac OS version
A new native Mac OS version of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Reader will be available on the Mac. The Mac version will also support high-resolution Retina displays for gorgeous dashboard authoring and viewing. This really is a huge engineering feat on their part since a lot of data source drivers can be challenging or simply are not made for Mac operating systems by the data source vendors. In this iteration, the most popular data sources will be available for the Mac version including Excel, text files, Access databases, Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, Teradata, Vertica, Hadoop, and access to Tableau Server data sources. Some of the data sources that are not initially available include OLAP cube data sources like Microsoft Analysis Services, Hyperion Essbase and SAP BW.
The coming story points feature allows you to save a dashboard state (filter selections, zoom level, annotation, etc.) with a menu item. It is a nice addition and getting a lot of buzz. I am not as passionate about this one but it certainly has a few big fans out here claiming that it will replace PowerPoint. They lost me on the blah grey boxes… I would like to see much prettier storytelling menu design options and already sent images of my visions to the engineering team over there.
Tableau has also redesigned maps and map styles to be more performant and attractive. Improved Tableau maps will include the latest set of data from OpenStreetMap, including 16 zoom level steps of details down to the street level worldwide.
New Excel and Text File Connectivity
Prior versions of Tableau used the Microsoft Jet database engine to connect to Excel and Text files. At times and in certain scenarios, the Jet connector proved to be both problematic and limiting. New Tableau 8.2 replaces the not so great Jet connector and now natively accesses Excel and Text data for a much better user experience, enhanced performance and added calculation functionality. The new native connector can automatically detect field types (Yay!) and supports more than 255 columns in a file. This connector also supports Count Distinct, Median, Percentiles and Dateparse functions that were not available in the past using Jet connectivity for these file types. Other nice details like fractional seconds and percentages will be also be correctly interpreted now.
Additional Data Source Connection Improvements
Other connectivity improvements in the latest and greatest Tableau 8.2 include:
- Support for SAP HANA variables and input parameters
- OAuth support for SalesForce.com, Google Analytics and Google BigQuery
- Native support for Google BigQuery
- Native access to machine data stored in Splunk
On the Tableau Server a myriad of performance enhancements and nice-to-have features for admins were added including:
- Reassigning Content Ownership
- New Server APIs for Administrators
- Tableau Multi-Version Compatibility
- Site Export/Import capabilities
- Eased Tableau Log Access and new Logging formats
- More Granular Control of Web Authoring on a Site level
I also noticed a few little details that I have not seen talked about much yet. The worksheet icons on the bottom are a bit more visually appealing and more obvious than the previous icons. Also there is a new menu option under Settings and Performance called Dashboard Web View Security. I am sure there are many other little marketed features that the Zens and Tableau team will be talking about more now that 8.2 is ready to go.