Tableau Tutorial – Importing Data Files

In the previous post, we discussed the steps to install and set the Tableau Public software. In this post we will discuss the steps to import data files into the tool. Tableau supports a huge variety of data formats ranging from text files to advanced database formats such as DB2. However, in the public version there is a limitation on these formats. Nevertheless, we should be able to simple files like Excel, Access or text to discuss the various features of the tool so that users can understand the data transformation steps, which are applicable to any data type.

To start importing any data files, first open the tool and you should see this screen

On this screen click the relevant file type you wish to import. To start off, we will import and text (.csv) file. Simply click the ‘Text File’ link as shown in the screenshot above. It should open a file open dialog box. Simply choose the file you choose. It should appear as shown in the screenshot below:

The above screenshot is what can be seen typically, when a data file is imported into Tableau. Let us elaborate on a couple of points in the interface shown in the screenshot. Firstly, pay attention to the ‘white space’ on the top right of the layout. This indicates the files that are being displayed in the pane directly below. This space shows the various data sources that are connected in the current workbook. You can add another data source by clicking the small arrow next to the ‘container‘ icon in this space. We will discuss this in more detail in a later post.

Secondly, notice the left pane. It shows the current connection i.e. is the file being used to display the bottom pane. Please note the additional files listed here. These are not previously made connections. These files that are placed in the same folder as the file imported into the workbook.

And finally, we would like you to bring your attention to the pane at the bottom. This pane is giving us a screenshot of the data in the file we have just imported. It is important to remember that tableau is fully capable for making changes to the data in order to correct for data errors in the file. In most cases, files used for visualization would be processed so that there are no errors. Also, in this pane, we are able to the data types of the various fields in the source data. In this pane, users can change the data types as required for the further transformations and visualizations.

In the next couple of posts, we would separately discuss importing text and excel files. Also, we would dedicate a single post to data types encountered in Tableau.

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