It’s my last week at Oxford University and as a Data Studio blogger. From next week, I cross the divide and become a Tableau employee. So far, my Tableau journey has been a blast, and I wanted to look back at my life as a Tableau customer.

I’ve been at Oxford 4 years, and looking through my notebooks, I found my first written note about Tableau. Turns out this was in prep of a business case to convince my managers to purchase one license of Desktop. Below is what I wrote. The key points are still totally applicable to anyone looking for a great visual analytics tool – speed, good quality visuals, ease of use, and sharability. Looks to me like Tableau has stayed true to its mission for the past four years (click the image for a slightly bigger version):

A page from my work note book, sometime in 2007

Since those early days, we evolved pretty quickly and expanded across the university. I soon realised that I wanted to become more involved in the user community and organised the first UK Tableau User Group in July 2009. 40 people turned up and this event seems to have gone down in folklore as the first ever Tableau User Group. Andy Kriebel claims he organised a meeting of Tableau users prior to that one! Either way, Andy K and I were early user champions, and it’s been a thrill to be at the front of the tidal wave of Tableau growth in that time.

By November 2009, Tableau was beginning to become a hobby as well as work – I was finding data online and using Tableau to visualise this. In that monthI made my first comment on the Guardian Data blog (these ancient days were Before Tableau Public).

I had also started putting vizzes online at a posterous blog. This blog never really took off but after meeting Mel at the user group and other Tableau events, I started blogging here at The Data Studio. The floodgates opened and over the last 12 months it’s been an absolute pleasure coming up with new ways of using Tableau and doing exciting things with public data. I’ve managed 50+ posts, about one a week.

What have been my highlights? A few things stand out.

Cycling to work is a great way to generate ideas, and it was on rides to work that the ideas for bar charts in tooltips and lollipop charts (three posts!) came together. I love seeing them out in the wild.

Pouncing on topical public data is great fun, and I was delighted that I got my viz about London’s Cycle Hire scheme embedded on the Guardian Data Blog. It was a tactical dashboard design – I don’t think it’s the best dashboard one could have made, but the data was hot and many people pounced on it the day it came out: being first was possibly more important than being best in terms of exposure for this blog and for Tableau.

Along the way I’ve also had a bit of fun making 3-d pie charts and Christmas trees

For the more complete list of my blog posts, click here. Did you have any favourites?

Leaving the University of Oxford and this blog behind was a tough decision, but I’ve now got the opportunity to continue doing what I love all day every day – I can’t wait. Talking of my Oxford colleagues, I had a leaving presentation yesterday and they presented me with a card decorated with the following dashboard – clearly I have taught them well! Click the image for a larger view:

I also need to thank you all for readingĀ  – your feedback has been fantastic and it’s been a hoot to meet you online or at conferences and geek out over data viz. Rest assured, that will continue once I’m embedded in Tableau!


Croydon Cyclone 2011

This weekend saw the Croydon Cyclone disc golf tournament. It was the biggest UK tour event for a long time, and the Croydon club created a tough course. Here’s the analysis of each hole’s results. As you can see, it was a tough event. Click on the holes in the upper chart to see score distributions in the lower section.

What do I take away from this?

This was a tough course. Check out how many holes had more bogeys than birdies. For the Open, it’s about half of the holes. For the other divisions, just about all holes were bogeyed more than birdied. In fact, the Int Ams only managed 28 birdies in the hole tournament.

What to make of the new and amended holes?

Hole 7, with an OB “lake” right in front of the tee seemed too easy for the top Open players. I think this dashboard proves that. The Open Division managed, on this hole: 36 birdies, 30 pars and only 10 bogies. The Advanced Ams were evenly split (14,42,20), so it played well for them. The Int Ams struggled (1,28,28).

Hole 9 saw proportionally more Open player bogey than Adv Ams, proving that we have too many open players who overestimate their driving and approaching accuracy!

I will leave you to explore the rest of the holes. Feedback welcome…