For the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to spend more time learning instead of just “doing” data. It has been great to step back and re-connect with a few of the data programs I have used and dig into one that I have known about for quite some time. The program is expensive as a single tool for reporting data, so due to its cost did not make it a priority to learn. The program I am referring to is Tableau (https://www.tableau.com/ ).
Tableau is primarily a data visualization tool, which means it specializes in reporting data through presenting it in graphic form, not in table form. The data marts created by Data Smart LLC generally have a mix of tables and visualizations. Due to some limitations within Application Express (https://apex.oracle.com/en/ ) not all graphic styles are available, such as box plots. While most types of graphs are available in APEX, and made dynamic by auto-updating and filtering, I like box plots for examining test score data.
My solution is the creation of a Tableau visualization, using the test score data without identifiers (PII) and then publishing it to the public server and then linking that box plot graphic to a report region in APEX. This works fine.
But let’s return to the importance and utility of data visualizations. On one page in a report, I list the statistics of the test for the district, then for the school. I also provide histogram graphs so the user can see the distribution of scores. But when the two distributions are combined, now the data begins to tell a story and make understanding of the data much more useful.
Below is the graphic of the school and the district made in APEX. You can immediately see that this school did rather well on the test compared to the district average. You now can see the distributions and begin to think more deeply about the data. That is what visualizations do! Then you want to dig deeper into knowing more about the particulars of the data.
In summary, as data reporters and data analysts, we need to not be confined to one data reporting tool. We also need more than one format for reporting and presenting the data. We should use a variety of tools and make data presentations truly inform the user.