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Is Tableau The Next Google? 264

Roland Piquepaille writes "At least, the founders of Tableau Software, a small company established in 2003 and based in Seattle, come from Stanford University, where they worked down the hall with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin back in 1997. In 'Tableau making name for itself,' the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes that Tableau intends to make structured databases easy to use the way Google did with unstructured data. So the company is turning databases into easy-to-generate graphics. Tableau doesn't say who are its customers, but claims that it has more than 100 installations and that it's already profitable. This graphical data mining tool runs on desktops and costs $1,000 per user for a standard edition and $1,600 per user for a professional version. Will this company be successful and become another Google? Read more and decide after looking at an example of database drilling."
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Is Tableau The Next Google?

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  • Killer app? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yebb ( 142883 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:06PM (#10123660)
    Only until Microsoft includes this feature into Excel. Seriously, it seems like a glorified Graphing feature.

    Certainly not something that can be used by hundreds of millions of internet users.
    • Re:Killer app? (Score:5, Informative)

      by thrillbert ( 146343 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:23PM (#10123808) Homepage
      You obviously did not take a look at their software and some of the presentations available on their site.

      Let me just give you the one feature which I think makes this extremely useful:

      • 1) The ability to highlight the area of a graph and paste it into a spreadsheet and having it show up as real data, not graphics.


      Don't get me wrong. I'm a CLI type of guy, but the truth is that we live in a graphical world, and I get paid to provide users what they need to make their jobs easier.. I'm pretty sure this will help them.

      ---
      There are no data that cannot be plotted on a straight line if the axis are chosen correctly.
      • Re:Killer app? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by aputerguy ( 692233 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:34PM (#10123897)
        > 1) The ability to highlight the area of a graph
        > and paste it into a spreadsheet and having it
        > show up as real data, not graphics.

        BFD! That is a trivial coding problem. This sounds like just another semi-pretty OLAP program. In fact, I have seen many, many infinitely more sophisticated graphical data mining tools that actually try to pull out the complex correlations in one or more dimensions rather than just colorizing some otherwise standard graphs.

        Yes, I looked at their examples -- not much more than some simple charts -- could easily be included in the next version of Excel without making a dent in the already bloated size of the program.

        That being said, for large companies, even a small increase in usability and insight can be worth paying $1000 for a couple of seats. Maybe also for some large research labs. But we are talking at most several thousand customers buying a handful of licenses yielding one time revenues (plus maybe some upgrades) of a couple of million dollars. A far, far cry from Googles ubiquity.

        The only thing that they and Google founders have in common is that they got their PhD's at Stamford (along with thousands of others each year)

        How the heck did a lame-ass article like this ever make it to the /. homepage? This is nothing more than an undisguised press-release for a ho-hum startup company!

        • Re:Killer app? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by SnapShot ( 171582 )
          BFD

          You know, I was going to use the same acronym. I realize it's a bit difficult to get a better understanding of what problem they are trying to solve (that hasn't been tackled a thousand times before on an ad hoc basis by every programmer doing enterprise software) from a non-technical newspaper article and a marketing web-page. However, the biggest problem I have with the web page is not that they are trying to solve doesn't need solving, but that the example screen shots are so contrived with nice

        • Re:Killer app? (Score:3, Informative)

          Beer for Dolphins?
      • Re:Killer app? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @08:28PM (#10124247)
        1) The ability to highlight the area of a graph and paste it into a spreadsheet and having it show up as real data, not graphics.

        Not a real killer app - we've had data mining / visualization / slice 'n' dice packages for over twenty years now. Sadly, none of them ever expand beyond a niche market because:

        1) Most users can't interpret 2-D data (other than simple time series and quartile-type histograms.) Many people can't even interpret 2-D data (ask a person to explain a graph of unemployment claims data and you will be unpleasantly surprised.)

        2) Most firms that examine complex, high-dimensional data (e.g. insurance companies, wall-street banks, economic think-tanks,) already have seriously sophisticated, domain-tailored tools. Wow, end-of-summer sales of pencils are up in sales district X - I wonder why? You don't think Staples already has some tools for correlation for back-to-school student buying with store-sales figures? Executives will greet this tool with a big yawn.

    • Free alternatives... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by currivan ( 654314 )
      Anyone comfortable with scripting languages should be able to use the Gnu R statistics package [r-project.org] and the GGobi visualization package [ggobi.org] to get the same effect in a cross-platform, free-as-in-speech way.
    • Killer app? Only until Microsoft includes this feature into Excel.

      The screenshots are really early betas for Excel 2005, right?

      I've been using Excel for the last decade or so as my numeric scratchpad when I am manipulating small sets. (Those are sets with less than 2^16 records, Excel's stupidly arbitrary 2-byte length limit per worksheet.)

      For years, I have been grumbling that the data manipulation features in Excel are just not strong enough.

      I've considered writing a graphical tool that shakes Exc

  • Incoherence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:07PM (#10123666)
    This news posting is so technically incoherent as to be really quite pointless beyond corporate advertising.

    Unstructured data? What are you talking about? Data is by definition structured! This tool just looks like yet another OLAP tool, which have been around for awhile now.

    How does this compare to google in any way other than that they are both companies that use computers? Total incoherence.

    • by falsifian ( 804880 ) <james.cook@utoro ... a minus language> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:18PM (#10123769) Homepage
      Unstructured data? What are you talking about? Data is by definition structured!
      01010010000110100100111010101010010110010101101010 1001001110100100001010101...
      Where's the structure in that, huh? But drag it into *Tableau*, and I'll betcha it gives you a pretty picture!
      • 01010010000110100100111010101010010110010101101010 1001001110100100001010101...
        Where's the structure in that, huh?


        I bet it's a part of Pi .. or E .. or both :)
      • 01010010000110100100111010101010010110010101101010 1001001110100100001010101...
        Where's the structure in that, huh? But drag it into *Tableau*, and I'll betcha it gives you a pretty picture!


        It sure does, and I wish you'd told us it was NSFW before posting it....
    • Re:Incoherence (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jdray ( 645332 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:20PM (#10123786) Homepage Journal
      Data is by definition structured!

      data [reference.com] (used with a sing. or pl. verb)

      Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions.

      Computer Science. Numerical or other information represented in a form suitable for processing by computer.

      Values derived from scientific experiments.

      Plural of datum.

      Um... No it's not.

    • Re:Incoherence (Score:5, Informative)

      by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:34PM (#10123898)
      Unstructured data? What are you talking about? Data is by definition structured!

      This is a common term in the database, search and information retrieval fields. Broadly, "Structured data" refers to information that is split up into well-defined component fields; "unstructured data" is data in one undifferentiated field.

      As usual this is context-specific and not truly a binary distinction, but consider an HTML web page that has been generated from a database. In the database the information is highly structured: stored as fields that have both syntactic and semantic rules associated with them. On the web page you have essentially a block of text, usually with minimal structure to it. Both contain the same information but one has lots of structure, the other has much less.

      SQL is a good language for querying structured data, Google is a good "language" for querying unstructured data.
      • Re:Incoherence (Score:3, Informative)

        by MattRog ( 527508 )
        However consider that the content in a big text field still has structure. If it is text data it is comprised of paragraphs, words, sentences, letters, etc. -- the structure is there just slightly more difficult for computers to work out.

        Does 'common usage' trump the 'actual' definition here [reference.com] (e.g. structured vs. unstructured)?

        I wish it didn't. Personally, as one in the DBMS field, I would much rather prefer people not use unstructured incorrectly (as 'common usage' does): technically "unstructured data" i
        • Re:Incoherence (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gwernol ( 167574 )
          However consider that the content in a big text field still has structure. If it is text data it is comprised of paragraphs, words, sentences, letters, etc. -- the structure is there just slightly more difficult for computers to work out.

          Does 'common usage' trump the 'actual' definition here (e.g. structured vs. unstructured)?

          I wish it didn't. Personally, as one in the DBMS field, I would much rather prefer people not use unstructured incorrectly (as 'common usage' does): technically "unstructured data"
      • However consider that the content in a big text field still has structure. If it is text data it is comprised of paragraphs, words, sentences, letters, etc. -- the structure is there just slightly more difficult for computers to work out.

        Does 'common usage' trump the 'actual' definition here [reference.com] (e.g. structured vs. unstructured)?

        I wish it didn't. Personally, as one in the DBMS field, I would much rather prefer people not use unstructured incorrectly (as 'common usage' does): technically "unstructured data" i
        • Of course, why should anyone care that the term is misused? Well, like I said, those in the DBMS industry are somewhat annoyed that XML/XMLDBMS have sprung up to 'handle' all the 'unstructured' data which, as I mentioned before, already has structure.

          The real solution is to simply not generate 'not formally defined' data in the first place - if you have your data stored in a DBMS then ship that to the client which can then logically process it (since you provided the definition as well). This is what Codd
    • The organizational distribution of relevent data across the Internet is as about as unstructured a system as anyone out there could design. A random number generator would at least produce a predictable distribution for the mass of documents placed out there by millions of users. Getting this data into a form that is structured in such a way that it is relevant to knowledge seekers is very difficult, and Google is so successful largely because of its ability to do so.

      "Structured" data (a term typically use
  • I doubt it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Number_1_Bigg$ ( 771467 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:07PM (#10123667)
    They won't be another Google because Google made something that everyone on the internet uses, while Tableau makes something useful for only a small group of businesses. Plus it's not free as in beer.

    Unless I'm missing something...
    • Re:I doubt it... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jdray ( 645332 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:13PM (#10123733) Homepage Journal
      I don't think you're missing anything. The only things these guys have in common with Google are a) they made a small leap in technology with an existing paradigm, and b) they used to work down the hall from the Google founders.

      AFAIK, Google only cleaned up the look of web searching and started inserting search-specific ads into results pages. Not rocket science, just a good idea. It turned out that they had the right recipie, and they're on top for the foreseeable future.

      But, then, maybe I'm just a curmudgeon...
      • Google also.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by DarkMan ( 32280 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @08:07PM (#10124121) Journal
        took into account the links _to_ a page as a measure of it's relevence.

        The idea being that the more linked to a page is, the more value it has - thereby using people as a way of meauring the worth of a page. By examing the words people link with, as well as allowing Googlebombing, it sidesteps meta-tag pollution etc.

        Been de-emphasised, compared to other sub-algorithms, but it's not just the appearence that set google apart in the early days. Before they had ad's.

        "Early days" *shiver* I can remeber when AltaVista was the pinnicle of web searching, and using Archie and Veronica.
      • nope (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ashot ( 599110 )
        pagerank [google.com]

        Its simple yes, but not as trivial as you seem to suggest.
      • As others noted, Google started out with more relevant results than other search engines. That is what inspired a mass migration.

        Now possibly others might have figured that out eventually. But what you really have to give Google credit for is maintaining performance and relevance. Everyone on earth switching to using your search engine? Seemingly never a problem for Google where I am not sure I've ever seen a perceptible slowdown in search results (think it may have happened once or twice). Also, gene
    • Re:I doubt it... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ctr2sprt ( 574731 )
      It might be that when they say "the Google of structured data" they don't refer to popularity at all, in fact. They might just mean that you can use Google to search just about any kind of unstructured data, whereas previously searches worked best when narrowed to a specific area. (Forum posts, sales sites, etc.) So if this product really will work well with all kinds of structured data, with no modifications to the basic algorithm, I might consider that "another Google."

      I, personally, can think of a c

    • AFAIK Google's software isn't free. The service is.
    • I saw Page on plane once, in 1997. I use the internet daily. I have a cache of every porn site on my hard drive. I am a carbon based life form.

      The connections and similarities are endless. Watch out Google!
    • Re:I doubt it... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jafac ( 1449 )
      Yeah. They're not the next Google. Maybe the next Brio. Or Crystal Reports.

    • Google has become successful by following the rules of good business behaviour. These are:

      - offer a product that people want/need
      - do it well
      - always look to improve and innovate

      The good guys win in the face of a jaded public perception of a faceless, uncaring business existence. There can be no better goodwill than that. I am hoping that Google will actually change the world. It probably will.
  • This sounds like a great tool. I know we have a lot of problems with getting our data into a report form for corporate. We are thinking about bringing someone on to write such reports full time because their nature and specs are constantly changing. If this tool can allow someone with limited technical ability to mine our data for marketing information we could save a lot of money with it.


    warning ... shameless plug to get myself a free ipod follows (yes it's legit [wired.com])
    • There's not much on specifics but it sounds like a Business Intelligence tool like Business Objects, Cognos, or MicroStrategy but without all the nifty features. Have you looked into any of these tools?

      If this tool can allow someone with limited technical ability to mine our data for marketing information we could save a lot of money with it.

      Here's the crux of this problem. You want someone will little technical ability to mine data? Mining data is a technical problem. It's not just about the tool.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:07PM (#10123675)
    Claims to have hundreds of customers... The best product. I've heard it thousands of times before... keep the hype machine going, and the stock price rising...
    • by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:27PM (#10123836) Journal
      keep the hype machine going

      This leads to a legitimate, if somewhat controversial question: Why are "Bloggers" classified as "Journalists"? What makes Roland into such an expert on anything? Well, he has a blog about technology, he MUST be an expert! He's skill set? Well, his resume [primidi.com] is NOT extraordinary. (Well, it is filled with phrases like "Animation of international groups", whatever the fuck that means). So, why is this guy given any credence? As another poster said earlier, this is SPAM!

    • Claims to have hundreds of customers... The best product.
      • Sure ... Mom, Dad, Sis, Bro, Aunt Judy, Uncle Bob, Spot, Fido ... and Mom says it's the best product. Don't be such a skeptic! Jeez...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    this looks more like cnet every day, lol
  • The "Next Google?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imag0 ( 605684 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:10PM (#10123690) Homepage
    This graphical data mining tool runs on desktops and costs $1,000 per user for a standard edition and $1,600 per user for a professional version. Will this company be successful and become another Google?

    Let's see:

    One has a kick ass interface and is free.
    One runs on windows and cost over 1K per user

    One is geek friendly and intelligent.
    One is utterly, utterly unknown.

    One has "Do No Evil" all over their offices
    One astroturfs Slashdot for a news story

    Dunno guys. I think it's a wash.
    • *informative* ???
      and now *insightful* reply to parent -> display??

      Geeze mods this is funny as hell!!
      -nB
    • Step 1. Read parent posting
      Step 2. Consider this (from the article):
      Will this company be successful and become another Google? First, graphical data mining has never been a big hit. And second, there are lots of competitors in the business intelligence sector, including at least Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion and MicroStrategy. So make your bets and wait for the next multibillion-dollar IPO.
      Step 3. Conclude: Nothing to see here, move along.

      BTM
  • buzzwords! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Damn, this really doesn't seem to have that much to do with Google. Can we stop using them as a buzzword? I'm sure we're all sick of this.

    Maybe it's just my age, but every great product I've seen has not been hyped like this. It just discredits Google in my opinion, even though it's not really their fault.
  • by daver_au ( 213961 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:11PM (#10123702)
    I use google many times a day. I can't see this graphing tool becoming as ubiqituous as Google. I can't see that company name entering the English language as a verb like google.

    Can you pay to get your story on Slashdot these days? This seems more like advertising. It certainly isn't interesting news.
    • I can't see that company name entering the English language as a verb like google.
      except that "tableau" already is an english word [reference.com] (borrowed from french, of course).

      yeah, we knew what you meant. i'm just being nitpicky.
  • Another one... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:11PM (#10123703) Homepage
    Hrm, I can think of a handful of similar apps, it's hardly even nerd news.

    How much for a front page posting? Seems like many stories these days are just ads.
    • Duncan,

      I think slash and the majority of other places are suffering from news shortages. Not much SCO stuff going around, MS has been done to death, and all people seem to be coming out with are press releases.

      If you've got an interesting story for us all, by all means submit it.

      Please dont sit around bitching about it, we are meant to have the Open Source ethos.

      The quality of the front page is related to the quality of the submissions - shit in, shit out.

      We all need to go hunt down some gems of stori
  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3.yahoo@com> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:11PM (#10123706) Homepage Journal
    Remember when every company was "The Next google/amazon/ebay/yahoo?" This may very well be a sucessful company, but it is nearly impossible to predict this at such an early age.

    If you were to have predicted in 1997 that ANY ONE company would be worth billions, you'd be smart, but to have predicted that COMPANY X would be worth billions, you'd be genius...

  • by fastdecade ( 179638 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:12PM (#10123721)
    I've never heard of them and htey've got their own domain already? No http://stanford.edu/users/jerry/? No http://google.stanford.edu? If these guys want it big-time, they should earn their keep on stanford.edu - go for http://morpheus.cs.stanford.edu/~tableausoftwareid ea, ???, profit.
  • Generally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Undefined Parameter ( 726857 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .modeerf4leuf.> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:14PM (#10123734)
    As a general rule of thumb, and as my parents taught me, no matter what is billed as "the next" anything (or anyone, for that matter), it is doomed to failure. The logic behind this is, I've determined, that by saying something is the next "X", one has set up that comparison in the minds of others; when that something does not turn out to be like, as good as, or a duplicate of "X", people assume it is a failure and avoid it as such. In their minds, they were given a sort of promise, no matter who or whom said it, that "Y" was going to be "X", again.

    Will Tableau be the next Google? No, but it will be Tableau, and may even be a great service. Whether or not it will succeed, and why, remains to be determined.

    (In my opinion, the difficulty of spelling a name with three vowels next to each other will be strike one against Tableau... if people can't remember how to spell it, they won't be able to find it the first/second/third/etc. time.)

    ~UP
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:49PM (#10123993)
      These guys are astroturfing. Part of their marketing campaign is to create an association with Google, so when you think Google, you think of whatever the heck their name is. Remember: There's no such thing as bad publicity, so even if they don't live up to expectations, they still raised awareness (and fattened their wallets).

      Unfortunately, it looks like they succeeded in their first round of 'turfing because they even got me to talk about them; however, they won't get me to say their name (I won't let them enter my consciousness just yet, even if they've planted seeds for my subconscious).
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:14PM (#10123737) Homepage Journal
    Seems like every tenth article is there to provide a link to Piquepille (or however you spell that asshat's name) and his blog. Why can't he just write a long story submission, and the editors display the first paragraph of it?
  • Tableau intends to make structured databases easy to use the way did Google with unstructured data
    Yep, that's a good example of unstructured data.
  • The day that I have to stop telling people that ask for help "Google is your friend". You can create the greatest search tool in the world, but if the end-user is too oblivious to use it...
  • Blog spam (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:16PM (#10123755) Homepage
    Just so you people know, Roland Piquepaille (the submitter of this story) has a growing repuation as a "blog spammer". That is, he sends in stories to slashdot compulsively (and I assume sometimes repetitively to get it on the front page) which always include a link to his blog at the end which provides him revenue from the ads on his site.

    I'm not going to go as far as a lot of people who post about this and claim that this makes him an inherently evil force that must be stopped, it doesn't, but I'd just like people to be aware of this. I mean, his blog entry on the topic is usually just a rehashing of the articles submitted adding nothing. I really think the editors should edit out the compulsive blog link, but whatever, there's a lot of things we all think the editors should do that they don't.
  • Where's the RSS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by manmanic ( 662850 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:19PM (#10123785)
    Sounds like yet-another-data-visualization-startup - what we really need is a product which turns a database query into an RSS feed, so it's easy to keep track of new matches. If it can be done for Google [googlealert.com], and these people are meant to be the next Google, why are they doing it for databases? Pointless story if you ask me.
  • Is Tableau The Next Google?
    No.

    Honestly, I don't even see how somebody could think that it ever could be. Sounds like marketing got carried away (and it worked, I guess, we're discussing them, aren't we?).
  • by Danny Rathjens ( 8471 ) <slashdot2 AT rathjens DOT org> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:30PM (#10123859)
    With the rising number of silly astroturfish advertising getting by the editors, slash needs an ability to let users filter submissions based on the submitter. hrm, it could be a simple extension to the 'foe' feature for comments.
    • With the rising number of silly astroturfish advertising getting by the editors, slash needs an ability to let users filter submissions based on the submitter. hrm, it could be a simple extension to the 'foe' feature for comments.

      Doesn't attaching a score to your "foes" do what you want? Pick someone as a foe, then go to Preferences -> Comments and set foes to have a -6 score. They're filtered out. Done.

      • That only applies to comments, not story submissions.

        I want the ability to exclude stories from the homepage submitted by this "Roland Piquepaille" the same way I have avoided years of nonsense from "JonKatz".
        My view of what is nonsense is obviously highly subjective; so a user configurable option seems to be the answer.

  • by Performer Guy ( 69820 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:30PM (#10123862)
    At these prices I'm almost propelled back 10 years in time to Unix workstation per seat licensing practices. Nothing that costs a grand a seat will ever achive the penetration Google has. Geeze these guys have 100 customers, you'd think someone there would be smart enough to wake up one day and realize why they have 100 custs. Why bother even writing a puff piece about some expensive data mining app? You've gotta be out of your tree to see something like this and think Google. There's any number of useful but expensive software packages sold by relatively anonymous niche players that would make a much better analogy (although few charge as much as these guys). I guess since Google just floated for a wad of cash they're the round hole into which this square peg of a company would like to be bashed by their cooperative 'journalist'.
  • by cephyn ( 461066 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:31PM (#10123867) Homepage
    Not yet anyway. Regardless of the shady posting motives of the story poster and the somewhat shady newsvalue, I'll still post my opinion of the tableau software.

    I'm a Data Manager for a medical reasearch non-profit and one of the most time consuming and difficult things to do is get good, reliable, interesting data out of the mountain of collected data in the database. I've had to fire off some very nasty sql queries and sit with doctors redoing statistics over and over until they are right...there's just so much room for error and so much complexity. I've also written tools to give some instant analysis to the doctors, similar to what the tableau software does. (of course, my stuff is super-simple and rudimentary, tableau has lots more functionality, but thats to be expected). The bottom line is, big deal. While that sort of data analysis is good and mildly useful, its not worth $1600 to my company when I can do it on demand in a few minutes. Plus I know what I'm doing, who knows what the tableau software is spitting out -- I'm my own QC guy. Until Natural Language Queries on databases start working right and become well featured, well implemented and widespread, its going to take human intelligence and personal knowledge of the database structure to get good data out. The tableau software is pretty, but its just not enough -- its not going to replace what I can do, and its not going to worth it enough for companies who have data managers to buy. In which case, its overpriced. It's not the next google -- its just pretty graphics. Its a nice program at $100, not $1000.
    • You used the word "interesting" and in my experience that is the key. I can see some applications for this - even though perhaps they are based on what I would like this to be, rather than (since I did not RTFA) what is is....

      My company, for example, sells a fairly complex piece of HR software. It has a hideously large (structured!) database that captures just about everything.

      Reporting, for us, is a big, big deal. Customers are constantly demanding more insight into their broken business processes.

      Th

  • Ahhh, Visualization (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Effugas ( 2378 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:32PM (#10123871) Homepage
    So much fun. And so, so utterly useless 95% of the time.

    I've been working on particle systems for large scale data visualization. Even got some working code up -- see this [doxpara.com] for the results of my DNS server research (every particle is a host). It's...OK. The problem is that while a good chunk of our brain is devoted to visual processing, a good chunk of what we do is decidedly abstract and non-visual. Playing across these mental lines can usefully employ underutilized computation frameworks, but that doesn't mean that it will.

    Think -- crypto on a GPU, not particularly fast (floating point and crypto only work well together in one extraordinarily obscure context).

    It's alot of fun to play in this domain, and occasionally the results are really really useful (like this rendering of failed entropy generators) [doxpara.com]. But...yeah. Way too often, your output isn't as useful as a quickly resortable log file.

    That's what makes it such a great challenge, of course. Few other fields show themselves to be empty of value so late in the dev cycle. (Biotech people have it worse, of course.)

    --Dan
    • What exactly do the (3, I assume) axes in your DNS server image represent? What does the variation in color mean? What were you trying to understand with it? Were there outliers, groupings, or something in particular you were looking for?

      If visualization is utterly useless 95% of the time, perhaps it's that 95% of the time you're choosing the wrong type of visualization. Just putting datapoints into any random image generation system won't help you find the answers (or the questions) you're looking for.
  • WARNING: Astroturf (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:35PM (#10123906)
    This guy, Roland Piquepaille, plugs products in his blogs and submits links to Slashdot, which, incredibly, are accepted. Check out his other posts, he has had a submission accepted every day for the last 4 days, all the submissions are the same style and format, and all have a link to some new product. STOP FEEDING HIM PAGE VIEWS!
  • Maybe they should change their name to something decent. That would never ever stick like the "Google."
  • I know of many managers who would kill for such features for querying against text limited and SQL databases directly.

    Seriously it represents a great product, provided it isn't swallowed by M$FT and integrated into MS Office. I would rue that day.

    Visual representation of data allows human mind to discern patterns in data more easily and this tool is built with exactly that in mind. Couple that with universal data access and export formats, and they have a killer product.

    Way to Go !!!

  • Not a flaimbait. Not lame. Just a question.
  • Crappy DB interface (Score:2, Informative)

    by cdc179 ( 561916 )
    This is crap. They only interface with MS DBs.

    FTFA:
    Specifications: The Standard Edition of Tableau connects as a client to three types of databases: Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel and text files. Tableau is not a "data silo." Rather, it issues queries to these existing data sources using standard drivers.

    Requirements: Windows 2000 or later release. 30MB hard disk memory
  • Hands up who has heard,seen or used BI tools. Obviously the stupid editor posting IT stories doesn't know about common IT tools.

    I doubt very much this will turn into something huge. It's just not different enough from the competition.

    BI coupled with neural nets is probably the next big thing in mining and presenting data.

    I wonder how much /. is paid to promote a company?
  • by GoClick ( 775762 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @08:12PM (#10124146)
    Wow if I ever needed confirmation that /. was a bunch of kids and academics this story was it.
    $1,600 is peanuts for business software. PEANUTS There would be plenty of companies willing
    to shell that out just to TRY something like this.

    Is it revolutionary? No
    Is it complex? No
    Is it useful? Yes
    Would it take more
    than $1600 to develop
    it in house? Yes

    Think about that for just a minute, Excel doesn't do all of this and this looks fairly easy to use.
    MANY companies are willing to fork over around $400 for Office (bulk) for every one who has a computer
    Maybe only 2 or 3 people in a large company would use this and it would be useful

    Perhaps this will put it in perspective, when trying to do price point setting in a large volume company selling 3200 products and shipping over 5000 units (in various amounts of those 3200 products) it can be EXTREMELY taxing to figure out what's going on when you have to plot sales vs seasonal vs price changes vs competitor data. A $1600 program that can help your $500/hour accountant save time is a pretty good deal even if they use it only to set the prices of 5% of the items that iss 160 items and if you can make an extra $5 on something you ship 900 of a day the software was barely a fringing blip in cost when it might have saved your accountant 80 hours or more of work you've made out well.

    For the most part I get the feeling that /.ers have never worked in the corporate world. They have no idea how little money $1600 is.
    • Agreed, but this is also not "The Next Google". Appears to be a good tool, not too badly priced. But nothing revolutionary, and not worthy of /. frontpage.
    • Think about that for just a minute, Excel doesn't do all of this and this looks fairly easy to use.

      You are assuming that there are no other tools like this on the market, and if they are, they have failed to become the "next Google" due to inherent flaws.

      I saw my first such "simplified data visualization tool" around, oh, 1982. And I have seen dozens since, ranging from $129 to $20,000/seat.

      Many of them have been simple and easy to use. Problem is, the underlying business logic behind the data is not si

  • by Anonymous Coward
    A lot of people seem to be slamming the whole idea of visualization of data, or the fact that the software costs $1,600. For a large business where data analysis is done by sales and marketing folks who think a log file is something for rounding off the edges of dead trees, this sort of tool is invaluable.

    Now, yes, you can do pivot tables and graphing in Excel, but a tool that can go straight to the database and is extraordinarily easy to use (read: made for dolts) is better.

    Does Tableau live up to that?
  • by YetAnotherName ( 168064 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @09:04PM (#10124471) Homepage
    Look, I will do anything, anything ... yes, even subscribe to Slashdot to avoid having to see Roland Piquepaille submit his own damn, repetitive, annoying, better-than-thou, and already-covered-by-other-media-outlets-multiple-ti mes stories appear on Slashdot. Really, you're making me want to stop visiting altogether!

    Karma? I won't submit, comment, or even visit for karma! That's not a reward system unless you can turn in your karma for cash. Forget it!

    Please! Please censor Roland Piquepaille.

    (His last name is French, isn't that clue enough?)
  • I checked the site out and to me this is simply a spreadsheet that automatically graphs the data. I'm sure you could write an excel macro that would do the same thing.
  • Mod this article as Slashdot spamming. First the ebay article yesterday trying to sell something four times its value and now this??? C'mon guys...
  • God damn it, editors.

    I told you to STOP LINKING TO ROLAND "FUCKYFACEY"s WEBLOG.

    Tableau is so _NOT_ the next Google it makes me need to take an Advil.
    It's a bunch of Active X controls on top of ODBC!!! Here, let me get you a medal.
    This kind of OLAP crap is all over the place. At least companies like MindJet or those siggraph guys are trying to think of new ways of representing data.

    Let's face it, about 50 Stanford computer science students were "down the hall" from the "Google Guys". And you know what? Mo
  • This is the Stanford spinoff of the Polaris [stanford.edu] project presented at IEEE InfoVis several times over the past few years. Chris Stolte [stanford.edu] was the main student involved, and a CiteSeer [psu.edu] search on his name will turn up most of the related work. To summarize: The goal of the work was to provide a visual programming environment (using a spreadsheet-like layout) to presenting data in multi-dimensional databases. It uses some sound (a.k.a., proven) results to create initial intiutive mappings of this data. See the papers

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