I’m a little Data Schooler in a deep Tableau sea | Part 2 : #Data16

Continuing on from my first post Pre-Conference Build-up which can be read here. I wanted to explain the surreal experience I have just had at #Data16.

The idea behind these posts come from the lyrics

I’m a little yellow fish in the deep blue sea, won’t somebody come and help me?

Let’s start from the beginning. Registration. When Nai and myself went to register, I felt excited and nervous all at the same time. There weren’t too many people around yet, finding the places we needed to get to for the different sessions. Picking up pin badges! I wonder how many pins everyone has? I got 10 towards the end of the conference. Well continuing on, we went to a newbie session as this was our first ever conference and we wanted to be prepared. It was good to find further information out that we needed to know.

Session: Intro to TC16 for Conference Newbies
Speaker: Vanessa Au

Key Takeaway: Use the App
Something New I Learned: There are a lot of conference newbies- you will never be on your own

The next session was Makeover Monday Meetup. This session was ran by Andy Cotgreave and Andy Kriebel. So makeover monday is a yearly project ran by both Andy’s where they have a different visualisation each week and they try and improve the original. This week’s session was about food inspection ratings in Austin. We were given an hour to come up with some analysis and publish it. I always struggle producing things within a given time period, however I did produce something. My final viz can be seen below.


Now Andy Kriebel being Andy, likes to volunteer people for things when they are not expecting it, however he didn’t volunteer me, he volunteered Sarah Bartlett, which she presented great infront of a 100-200 person room! Bravo! However she then later volunteered me to present my work. Pressure! But overall Live Makeover Monday was great, and I encourage everyone to take part in Makeover Monday when they can.

Session: MEETUP – Makeover Monday
Speaker: Andy Kriebel and Andy Cotgreave

Key Takeaway: Everyone loves a challenge
Something New I Learned: Trying to viz under pressure is hard!

There was also other meetups at the same time which includes Data+Women! After these events it was the welcome reception where we eat, drink and party.

Day 2

Day 2 was the main starting day of the conference and it started at 8 am with the first keynote session. Walking into the convention centre was very daunting and had a very overwhelming feeling. This room is going to fill 13000 people that love Tableau just as much as I do


The first session was the Tableau Vision. I really enjoyed this keynote session. It’s great listening to the future of Tableau, and again hearing so many people that love to project. There was a lot of WOOHOO‘s and claps throughout this session.

If you get a chance I would recommend watching all the keynote sessions.

Session: Keynote – Tableau Vision
Speaker: Christian Chabot and Senior company leaders

Key Takeaway: ‘Innovation is the life line of this product’
Something New I Learned: there are a lot of amazing new things coming to the next versions!

The next session I went to was, how tableau use the studies from product innovation. This session was good. They went straight into 3 use cases and told us about the Tableau Labs. They are constantly researching new things, whether that’s the way the product works, looks and feels to choosing the correct colours palettes. I think product innovation and research is critical in massively improving this product.

Session: Understanding People: How user studies support product innovation at Tableau Research
Speaker: Heidi Lam and Melanie Tory

Key Takeaway: Helping Tableau with their research is important for development
Something New I Learned: Always new studies!

Zen master sessions will always be good to attend. Even though I have worked with Andy Kriebel for the last year, I know I can still learn so much from him. The next session was Zen Master : 50 tips in 50 minutes, with Andy Kriebel and Jeffery Shaffer. Sarah again was volunteered to help Andy out with counting the tips that they both get, again I was kindly volunteered to help with the score keeping. Being on stage with 2 zen masters how could I say no. I sat down at the Tableau and looked out, and thought to myself one day I want to be on this stage speaking to the hundreds that have turned up to see these two amazing guys. Between them they managed 86 tips in 50 mins. Now that is impressive!


Session: Zen Master: 50 tips in 50 minutes- Tableau Speed Tipping
Speaker: Andy Kriebel and Jeffery Shaffer

Key Takeaway: Explain everything, because some things that you do people will not know and class it as a tip
Something New I Learned: Taking base layer off a map makes a simplistic map (44 mins on video, Tip from Jeff)

The next two sessions I went to were quiet, but they were still just as good. The first one was Tableausaraus Regex, which was about learning how to regex within Tableau. I use Regex within Alteryx, so I thought I would see how it works within Tableau. This was a good session and definitely encourages me to learn more about the regex options inside of tableau.

Session: Tableausaurus Regex Unleashed: The Power of Tableau Regular Expressions
Speaker: David Petranek
Key Takeaway: Four different regex functions in Tableau
Something New I Learned: What parenthesis do within regex. They are the group that you are looking to find!

Following this was ‘Take a bite out of server logs with log shark’. This is a relatively new software tableau have just brought out to help understand and make sense of your tableau logs. Which is an area of mine I would like to improve on. I have a key question I want to find out, which I have a few people trying to also find the answer.

Session: Take a Bite out of Server Logs with LogShark
Speaker: Daniel Rahm
Key Takeaway: LogSharks will make reading logs easier
Something New I Learned: Still in development, but could be very useful

Final session of the day was Devs on Stage, another key note. Much like the first there was a lot of excited people in this exhibit hall! Notably 4 out of 5 presenters were female! Which is great! They presented the new features that they were most excited about! Find out all the new things here.

Session: Devs on Stage Keynote
Speaker: Andrew Beers and Dev Speakers
Key Takeaway: Dashboard spacing, Expressive text editing, Filter to latest date pre-set, Joins on Calculations and Map layering
Something New I Learned: Everyone is very excited about the new features

Tuesday was election night, you could tell the atmosphere was tense and the rain would not stop! Maybe that was a sign.


Day 3

Personally I didn’t like the keynote by Shankar Vedantam, but others did.

Today was a day with the Zens for me. I stayed in the same conference room for most of the day. First off was Joshua Milligan, with Zen Master: Fun or Serious? How to use both to improve your dashboards. He has a great presentation style, especially if you like star trek. It was great to see that you can be fun and serious within your dashboards, it just depends on the message you are trying to get across.


Session: Fun or Serious? How to Use Both to Improve Your Dashboards
Speaker: Joshua Milligan
Key Takeaway: You need to be fun and serious to have a positive impact
Something New I Learned: Finding the right balance between fun and serious is a challenge


Next up was Matt Francis. Now if you haven’t seen Matt present before, I would strongly recommend watching it- right now! This session was all about busting data myths. Although I didn’t necessarily learn a lot in this session, I would say this was the best session of the conference. Matt is engaging and topics are great! I think the answer to most of his myths is the famous saying from Andy Cotgreave – ‘It Depends’. Yes you can use pie charts, no they are not banned (Unless they are hideous). Yes you can use red and green, know your audience. I really enjoyed Matt’s presentation!

Session: Busting the DataViz Myths, Zen Master Style
Speaker: Matt Francis
Key Takeaway: It depends!
Something New I Learned: Presenting with almost no text = great presentation!


For the next session I actually moved rooms. I went to Jewel Loree‘s Pimp my viz: Tokyo Drift. Jewel is fantastic, such a rockstar! Even has a colour palette named after her! Her session was all about pimping up vizzes. And showing her process. She even went all matrix style and let us inside of her head! Could of been dangerous! But overall was a fantastic presentation.  We even got a picture with the data rockstar herself.

Session: Pimp My Viz 3: Tokyo Drift
Speaker: Jewel Loree
Key Takeaway: Try and backward engineer other peoples vizzes
Something New I Learned: Don’t be afraid of steering away from ‘Visual best practice’


Alternatively, Jedi Charts by Chris DeMartini and Adam McCann was also on at the same time. I caught up on this session post conference. Although the chart types, Chris and Adam built, are not necessarily best practice, they are sometimes very visually appealing and can be understood by everyone. They also reference all of Stephen Few’s books! These are great! I would love to be able to make more challenging vizzes!

Session: Jedi Charts: Creating New Advanced Chart Types
Speaker: Adam McCann and Chris DeMartini

Key Takeaway: Steal everything from Jeffery Shaffer
Something New I Learned: A lot of charts are possible with using Maths! Gauge charts and jump plots!

I missed the final session due to going to get ready for Data Night Out! I made it back in time for the Iron Viz though!

Iron Viz is something else. My aim and aspiration is to be on that stage one day, representing women in data! I can imagine it being very intense! But it looks so fun! Huge congratulations to Curtis Harris who won, he even had time to use the new mobile device designer, oohh swish. Also congrats to Robert Rouse and Russell Spangler!

Session: Iron Viz
Speaker: Russell Spangler, Robert Rouse, Curtis Harris

Key Takeaway: Nerves of steel needed
Something New I Learned: 20 minutes is not a lot of time to create something fantastic!


DATA NIGHT OUT, well what a night! I never thought you could fit 13000 people in one place! It was like a festival.Food, beer and live bands! Trying to find anyone you knew was proving particularly difficult. Team photos on selfie sticks always work!

   img_7927   img_7880


Final day

This was the final day of conference, and oh boy was I tired! Although the conference has been the best time of my life, it is also one of the most demanding weeks! You are constantly learning, meeting new people and late nights.

The day started with ‘Artful Data, the balance of Art and Analysis’. It was good to see him describing the fine line between art and analysis, and how to mix both.

Session: Artful Data: The Balance of Art and Analysis
Speaker: Michele Tessari

Key Takeaway: Data visualisation can be art and analysis
Something New I Learned: I want to be a data rockstar

Next up was Chris Love, sealed with a simple kiss. Explaining how he is now on his journey to making his visualisations simple, whilst he understands the needs for complex vizzes and learning new skills. It can be just as difficult to keep things simple. Having ALL that data and only picking key things.

Session: Sealed with a KISS: Embracing Simplicity in Data Visualization
Speaker: Chris Love

Key Takeaway: Keep things SIMPLE
Something New I Learned: You can still do complex things but also think about how to express your data in the simplest of forms

During Chris Love’s session, the ‘Reviz Project’ session was also on, which I heard nothing but good feedback. I caught up with this session post conference. Three great people enhancing their story telling by starting the reviz project on subjects with powerful data to great powerful stories. I loved how they use emotion to get the story across! Different styles work great. Either explanatory or exploratory are good as long as you have a story in mind with questions that you have answered. I would highly recommend this session!

Session: Becoming Data Storytellers through the Reviz Project
Speaker: Nelson Davis, Matt Chambers and Alex Duke
Key Takeaway: Always have a story in mind when creating a project
Something New I Learned: Emotion in visualisations go a long way but you have to be prepared for the reaction

Finally before the key note was a session by Andy Cotgreave, The visual design tricks behind great dashboards. This was good to see Andy present, he is so natural in the way he presents, so enthusiastic. Knowing whether you need to create a functional or beautiful dashboard. I learnt a few tips whilst I was at this session.

Session: The Visual Design Tricks Behind Great Dashboards
Speaker: Andy Cotgreave

Key Takeaway: Find the correct position on the function and beauty scale
Something New I Learned: The three levels of processing are Visceral, Behavioural and Reflection

The final event of the day was the Key note with Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’. What a guy! He presents really well, really enthusiastic and engaging. If only Tableau had left for more time at the Q&A. Unfortunately his session wasn’t recorded- so you missed out. Another reason to make sure you go to the conference next year!

Session: Keynote – Bill Nye, The Science Guy
Speaker: Bill Nye

Key Takeaway: Passion and enthusiasm about your subject is essential
Something New I Learned: We need to use more renewable energy!!


So that was my conference experience. I really am a little fish in the deep sea! There are so many great people out there who are just as enthusiastic as you are! Meeting people that you have spoke to on twitter is always a bonus! I love meeting new people and sharing stories. I would highly recommend going #Data17 which is in Vegas!

Finally- I would like to thank The Information Lab for the continual support! It was great to be out with a great bunch of people! I wouldn’t have it any other way!

img_7922   img_7923





Part 3:

  • How I feel post conference
  • My goals and aspirations

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.