Tableau Software, popular for making data more accessible, mainly in the business sector, just opened up with Tableau Public. The application is similar in spirit to other online data applications like Many Eyes and Swivel. It lets you share data and visualizations online. However, Tableau Public doesn't have a central portal or a place to browse data. Rather it's focused on letting you explore data and stitch modules together on your desktop and then embed your findings on a website or blog.
For example, below is an interactive hosted on Tableau Public and made available online. Those who use Tableau Desktop should be familiar with the layout. You've got a map up top linked to the the time series on the bottom. Filters on the right let you focus on specific parts of the data.
How it Works
The main trouble with this, and you might have noticed this already, is that the interaction is kind of slow, because everything renders on the server and then is sent back to your browser. So it takes a second or two for every click to process (for me, at least).
For comparison, if we embedded something from Many Eyes, the applet and data are loaded locally, so the visualization interaction is much faster.
Speed can be fixed though. Loading times aside, this is a big shift for Tableau, and it'll be fun to see where it goes from here. It's especially good news for the non-programmer crowd that's interested in data. With the price tag of free, there's nothing to lose and a lot to play with.
What do you think? Try for yourself and post your thoughts in the comments below. I'd be especially interested in hearing what regular Tableau users think about the product. How does it compare?
Disclosure: Tableau Software is a FlowingData sponsor.