Jenny (Xiao) Zhang

Tableau Tips,Tricks,Best Practices – Basic Concepts


Tableau Blog Posts Series – Tips,Tricks,Best Practices


It is hard to believe that it has been four months since I started my Tableau deployment project. It has a great journey so far and I feel I am learning something new about Tableau on a daily basis. Thanks for the great content available in Tableau community, Tableau Youtube Chanel and so many good Tableau blogs (eg, The information lab, Drawing with Numbers, VizWizVizCandy,Interworks), I am able to find answers to my questions and overcome different challenges.

Now it is time to give back to the community. I will start a Tableau tips&trick&best practices series to share what I learn about Tableau with our community. I will cover one area in each blog and I hope you will find these blogs useful. I am also looking forward you to share your thoughts and your Tableau tips&tricks.

Blog one – Basic Concepts

In the first blog, I want to cover some basic concepts about Tableau. When I first started to use Tableau, I feel it is the most easy to use BI tool that I have ever used. You can just drag and drop some fields and you are able to see some amazing visualizations of the data. But as I started to dig into visualizations to solve some real business challenges, I feel there are a lot of basic concepts about Tableau we need to know in order to get the results we want. I will not list all the concepts but the ones that I wish I know at the beginning. If you are interested to learn more, feel free to check the Tableau master concept blog at the end of the blog.

  • Discrete and Continuous
    • Blue fields are discrete – they contain a FINITE number of values – for example – the field REGION may contain the values North/South/East & West, but no others.
    • Green fields are continuous – they could contain an infinite number of values – for example the PRICE of an item could be any value along a number line.
    • Blues will give headers, categorical colors and multi-select filters while greens will give axes, gradient colors and range filters.
  • Tableau Loading Sequence:
    • Context filters create a temp table in your source
    • Top N and/or conditional filters form part of your SELECT statement in the query
    • Standard filters are applied as a WHERE clause
    • Aggregations are computed
    • Table calculations are applied
    • Table layout and axes are drawn
    • Anything on the Pages shelf is taken into account
    • Marks are then drawn
  • Measure – When you place a measure on the Text shelf, the text labels are given by the measure values. The measure can be either aggregated or disaggregated. However, disaggregating the measure is generally not useful because it often results in overlapping text. You can aggregate measure by selecting Analysis > Aggregate Measures.
  • Put a dimension on rows and a measure on label and you’ve written a query along the lines of SELECT Region, Sum(Sales) FROM Orders GROUP BY Region. Put another dimension on the filter shelf and it adds a WHERE clause. Do some sorting and you get an ORDER BY etc.
  • Tableau File type
  • Five things I wish I knew about Tableau
  • Tableau master concepts

These are the concepts that I think it is important to know before you start to use Tableau. If you are still confusing about any of them, feel free to contact me with any questions you have.

In the next blog post, I am going to talk about Data Extract. If there are any areas you are interested, feel free to leave a comment and we can discuss them.



    good i really like this Post it’s Help me out for Creation of dashboard (

  • Nick Bedo

    Great start, I’m eager to see future Tableau tutorial-style posts

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