Learning Tableau, one puzzle at a time!

by Niccolo Cirone

This week at the Data School each of us ran a training session about the topic in which we scored the worse at the Qualified Associate Certification Exam. My topic was calculations.

To be honest, I actually really like calculations: they are really smart tools, and I see them as blocks to be combined in order to solve puzzles.

I strongly believe in what my coach Laszlo told me:

“The fastest way to learn is via the errors we commit until the solution of the puzzle!”

First things first.

Exactly one month ago, I was roaming around London to hunt a place to live in, and spending my free time learning the most I could about Tableau, through online resources and blogs.

Eventually, Laszlo proposed a LOD-related challenge to the team:

Laszlo Challenge w Excel

What better way to learn than accepting the challenge?

The puzzle was making a viz to show just the value of the last grade scored by each student in each module.

I downloaded the sheet, and after some days (and some pain) I came up with a solution, I shared it with my coach, and I called it a (satisfactory) day…

…until Craig’s lessons about Advanced Table Calcs came into the picture!

He said:

“LODs are actually shortcuts, you can do almost everything you want without using them!”

He asked us to build a viz using a LOD calc, and then to re-build the same viz using just Table calcs!

It was challenging and provoking, and in the end I was able to arrive up to the last step (which was just turning the ‘Stack Marks’ off…!).

Not only this exercise was excitingly useful for understanding a bit more of what Tableau does under the hood, but also it immediately awoke my spirit of adventure, and I thought:

“Well, if we can do almost everything we do with LODs without disturbing curly braces, I should also be able to solve Laszlo’s puzzle in a similar way!”

I therefore undusted the workbook, I squeezed my brain, and I finally solved it again just using Table Calcs!

I love this kind of puzzles, they gamify my learning experience, and I had so much fun in solving this one that I used it as an exercise this week during my training session !

Here you can download the data, and here you can find my solutions!

Of course there are more than one solution to the puzzle, so don’t hesitate to let me know yours!