Day One – Introductions
Our first day at the Data School was unlike any other job I’ve experienced. Tom Brown started the day off with an introduction to the The Information Lab. He explained how the company works as well as its history, ethos and where we’re heading. It was a really valuable insight into the way TIL functions.
After that, Andy Kriebel took the reigns and gave us an overview of his past working with data and how he ended up here at The Data School.
The afternoon saw Craig getting us set up with all our tech. Surprisingly, everyone’s laptop worked first time! Towards the end of the day, we met up with a few folk from DS9 at the new DS ‘clubhouse’ just around the corner from the current location, where the new ping pong table was put to good use.
Day Two – Alteryx Basics
This was the beginning of the real learning process. Carl Allchin took us under his wing in teaching us the basics of ETL (extract, transform and load) and the fundamentals of Alteryx. We started out learning how each of the basic functions in Alteryx work and how they would be useful. Then Carl decided to throw us in at the deep end and set us loose on a small dataset to see if we could handle reworking it into something useful, without much direct instruction.
Thankfully, we all managed to swim! Going in blind and figuring things out for ourselves (with a few tips from Carl) really helped build an understanding of how to turn a mess of an excel spreadsheet into a nice, long and thin dataset to use in Tableau.
Determined not to let us off lightly, Carl then decided to grab some data from the internet. Having discussed our various hobbies, Carl decided to appease Gheorghie and I by giving us a set of data on board games! While I loved working on the topic, the data was a bit of a mess, so it took some time to get a handle on it.
After a lot of debate, head-scratching and a good bit of testing, Louisa and I managed to put together a viz showing the link between board game release date and ratings, which you can read about in her blog post.
Day Three – More Alteryx Basics + Makeover Monday
Next up, we tackled the Alteryx Essentials course material. During this we went through a step by step guide on how to take a disparate group of input files and turn them into something Tableau can work with.
Carl, being Carl, didn’t want us to get too comfortable just working through the Essentials course, so set us the task of also preparing a viz for Makeover Mondays. With the theme of Anthony Bourdain’s televised travels across the globe, we diligently got to work trying out a few different ideas with the dataset in Tableau.
Between tree diagrams, donut charts and lots of maps, we discussed how best to capture the story behind the data before each diving into creating our vizzes. My viz turned out quite nicely, allowing the viewer to compare locations visited on the map against the total number of countries visited in each year across each series. The interactivity of using dashboard actions to link each element really lets you explore the data. Not too bad, especially when we haven’t even started learning Tableau yet!