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Put to the Test: Tableau 2.0

In a world of "dancing bear" software, this upgrade delivers new filters and animations without adding awkward steps to Tableau's elegant data visualization tool.

Take a Turn on the Dance floor

The new release corrects the one thing that annoyed many of Tableau's customers in previous versions: you will no longer waste time scrolling around or struggling to get the tabular arrangement of graphs to fit the screen. Now, with nothing more than a click of the mouse, you can get everything to neatly fill the screen, even when there are many columns and rows of data.

Much more could be said about Tableau 2.0, but only enough space remains to list a couple more features:

• Data from multiple sources can now be joined for integrated analysis.

• Dynamic calculations have been added for running totals, percent change, moving averages and such.

Tableau still can't do everything, but it is maturing at a sensible pace. With each release, a great deal of thought seems to go into choosing the features that are most valuable and making sure that they actually work. This level of attention to what really matters is rare. If you're tired of being partnered with lumbering beasts, take a spin around the dance floor with Tableau.

* Tableau 2.0 is priced at $995 for the standard edition and $1,799 for the professional edition, including one year of software maintenance and unlimited technical support. For more information, go to www.tableausoftware.com.

Stephen Few is the principal of data visualization consultancy Perceptual Edge and author of two popular books: Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten and Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data. Write him at [email protected].