In a data-driven world, people without a scientific background need ways to see their data and use it. This October, Tableau Software announced the launch of Vizable, a new free app for iPads, at the Tableau Conference (TC15) in Las Vegas.
Tableau is a data visualization company that has developed different programs to make data more accessible, staying true to its mission: “to help people see and understand their data.” While Vizable is not its first mobile offering, it is the first app that stands alone, and does not have to be used with other software in Tableau’s product line.
“Vizable is for people like you, who know and love their data,” said Dave Story, Tableau’s VP of Mobile Engineer, addressing an audience of data geeks during the company’s day one keynote speech. “But it’s also for even more people, people who yet don’t know that they can, too, see and understand their data.”
How Vizable Works: Putting Data at Your Fingertips
Creating beautiful visualizations with Vizable doesn’t require a user to have previous experience with Tableau’s other products. Once the app is downloaded and installed, it automatically starts a tutorial which explains, step by step, how users can play with data they’ve uploaded by moving their fingers on the screen. Even though it is a Tableau product, you don’t create the visualizations from scratch — Vizable interprets your data and creates the visualizations for you. So all the user has to do is play with the visualizations to organize it to find relevant information.
I used a free database of baby names in the U.S from Tableau public, and the app immediately opened a visualization. I filtered by year, names and states to answer questions like, “What was the most popular name in given year?” or “How many babies are named Addison in a given state?”
Vizable allows users to access their data straight from cloud storage apps or any other source. The app automatically interprets the data from the spreadsheet or .csv file and opens it as a visualization. The user can then arrange the visualization according to what they’re looking for.
The controls Vizable are intuitive for anyone with experience with touch-screen devices. Swiping left or right allows users to move through fields, remove categories, or change calculations. Pinching adds or remove columns, and they can be dragged and reordered. Users can choose between different ways to display their data to highlight the information most relevant to them.
Once they’re satisfied with the way their data looks, the user can then export the viz and share it with others through social media, email, or text message.
This video offers a more in-depth introduction to Vizable’s various features from Tableau:
The Future of Data Visualization in a Mobile-Only World
Vizable is the final version of Project Elastic, an initiative presented last year that represents the desire of Story and his team to rethink data analysis in a mobile-first world.
“We realized that if we were going to start Tableau over again today, for the mobile generation, we’d build it for touch and on a mobile device,” Story said.
Though the app is not yet integrated with Tableau’s existing product line, the company anticipates that it is something users will see in future versions.
Vizable brings data visualization within reach for non-technical users, who now can create beautiful image from data for work, school, or personal interests. It’s also, perhaps, the embodiment of TC15’s main message about what data visualization should be: easy, on the go, and free.
Full disclosure: Tableau paid for Laura’s airfare and lodging for the duration of Tableau Conference 2015. They did not pay her to specifically write this article. You can read her coverage of the conference here.