Open Data

The first step to getting started with Tableau is to connect to the data you want to explore. For this example, you will connect to the Sample - Superstore data source that is installed with the application. There are many ways to connect to data, for example you can use the start page, the toolbar, or the Data menu. Follow the instructions below to connect to an Excel workbook from the start page.
  1. Click Connect to Data on the left side of the start page. The Connect page opens showing the types of data sources you can connect to.
  2. For this example, select Microsoft Excel.

  3. Navigate to an Excel file on your computer and open it.
    The Excel data for this example is located in the Datasources directory of your Tableau Repository. By default, your Tableau Repository is created in your My Documents folder when Tableau is installed.
    Once you have connected to the Excel data, the data source page displays the sheets in your data. You can then drag these sheets to the join area and combine them to form the data source from which you will build your view. See the Combining Multiple Tables topic to learn how to join data. If there are more than 1 million rows in the data source, you will need to filter the data.

  4. At the top of the data source page, select how you want to connect to the data and the data source filters you want to apply. You can select from the following options:
    • Live – Creates a direct connection to your data. The speed of your data source will determine performance.
    • Extract – By default, this option imports the entire data source into Tableau fast data engine as an extract. The extract is saved with the workbook. If you prefer to import a subset of the data, click the Edit link. This option requires you specify what data you want to extract using filters.
    • Add - Add data source filters to limit the visibility of fields contained in the workbook.
  5. At the bottom of the data source page, preview the data in your data source. You can also make the following modifications:
    • Hide or rename the column. Click the header drop-down arrow, and select Hide or Rename.
    • Change the data type. Click the data type icon in the header, and select the default data type for the column.
  6. Click the Go to Worksheet button to begin building your view.
Once connected, the columns from the data source (e.g., Customer Name, Order Date, and Sales) are shown as fields on the left side of the workbook in the Data window. Each column is shown as a separate field that you can drag and drop to start exploring your data.
The fields are organized into two sections: dimensions and measures. Dimensions typically hold categorical data such as product types and dates, while measures hold numeric data such as sales and profit.
An important concept to understand in Tableau is that you can build views of your data by dragging fields from the Data window to the shelves in the view.

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