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Tableau’s Product Ecosystem

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Ryan Sleeper

Tableau’s Creator, Explorer, and Viewer License Options

Which Tableau product is best for you? It’s important to remember that Tableau is a brand; not a product. Discover the differences between Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep, Tableau Server, Tableau Online, and Tableau Public, and how to decide which product is best for your analytics requirements.

Hi. This is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’m going to give you some background on all the different Tableau products and licenses that are available to you. I find this can be a confusing topic for a beginner, because you’ll likely have somebody that tells you to “Go download Tableau”. Well, you don’t just go download Tableau. Tableau is a brand, and within that brand umbrella, there are several different products. For example, there’s Tableau Prep, Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Online, Tableau Public, Tableau Reader, and that’s not even a comprehensive list.

On top of that, every (quarter) or so, Tableau is releasing new features for their Desktop product. And every month or so– they’re on a very aggressive release schedule– they’re releasing new features for their Prep, or data engineering tool. So it’s also very confusing to keep up with the different versions of the software. And then on top of that, every two to three years, Tableau actually changes the entire pricing model, which is why I’m actually retaping this video in 2019– to accommodate some of the latest versions of Tableau, as well as their new business model, which is more subscription-based.

The three main licenses that Tableau currently has are called Tableau Creator, Tableau Explorer, and Tableau Viewer. That first column there, Creator– these are going to be your power users. Every Creator user gets access to these three products– Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep, and Tableau Server. Tableau Desktop is the primary focus here at Playfair Data TV. This is the version of Tableau that’s going to allow us to author and build all of the charts and analytics in Tableau.

But you also have access to these other two products. Tableau Prep is Tableau’s data engineering tool. This is going to allow you to prepare a data source so that it is ready to use within Tableau Desktop. Then once you are done creating something in Tableau Desktop, you also get a Tableau Server publishing license, which allows you to publish whatever you have created to Tableau Server.

I should point out that Tableau Server acts the exact same way– or a very similar way– as Tableau Online and Tableau Public. If you go look on their website, you’ll likely just see one icon for Tableau Server. But if you are familiar or have heard of Tableau Online, it works the same exact way, and it’s the same type of license. The difference is that Tableau Server is hosted on premises, and Tableau Online is hosted by Tableau.

And then Tableau Public is also very similar, but this is a free version of Tableau. It’s actually the world’s largest Tableau Server installation. But even though it’s free, the catch is, you have to save your work to the public web. So it’s not a viable solution for companies. You’re either going to want to go with Tableau Server or Tableau Online. And the choice really depends on pricing, as well as if your company would rather host all of your data on premises or if you’re comfortable having it hosted by somebody else.

An Explorer license are for those users that aren’t building things in Tableau, but they need to view and interact with them. And then a Tableau Viewer license is kind of Tableau’s wholesale offering, where once you get to a certain threshold of users, they’ll give you a price break. And those people can only access and look at the Tableau Server reports that were published by the power users.

I’m not going to read you this table word-for-word here, but just to reiterate where most of the focus is going to be here at Playfair Data TV. This is for Creator-licensed users. And we will mainly be focused on the Desktop product. The Desktop product allows you to create most of the items that I’ll be showing you here at Playfair Data TV, as well as publishing them up to Tableau Server, Tableau Online, or Tableau Public.

There is a little bit of overlap with these products. So I will likely occasionally mention some of these. But just to review the workflow as a power user, you have the option to prepare a data source before it gets to Tableau Desktop. That would be using the Tableau Prep tool. Once the data source is created, you would build something within Tableau Desktop. Once you are done building it within Tableau Desktop, you would then publish it up to one of the interactive versions and hosted versions of Tableau. Those three are Tableau Server, Tableau Online, or Tableau Public.

Because Tableau is updating the software so regularly, as well as the pricing, I’m going to let you check out the pricing on their own website if you don’t yet have a license. But I do want to share one more resource with you that just helps me keep up with all the different releases of Tableau. If you go to this URL– tableau.com/esdalt– that’s a shortened URL that will forward you straight to their releases pages. This lists all of their different products, as well as all of their different versions.

So for Desktop, every three months, you’ll see a new version. For Prep, every month or so, you’ll see a new version. You can explore this and click in to see what the release notes were, what the new features were that month. This is also really handy if you’re ever working with a stakeholder that has not upgraded Tableau. You can always go to this page– tableau.com/support/releases and download older versions of the software so that they match up.

This has been Ryan with Playfair Data TV – thanks for watching!