Category Archives: Announcements

Get Some Pointers on How to Use Tableau (Or Not) Thursday, April 27 in SF

This Thursday, April 27th I’ll be speaking at the San Francisco/Bay Area Tableau User Group at Mapbox’s brand new headquarters on How (Not) to Use Tableau. The talk is based on my experiences helping users and organizations get the most out of Tableau and has something for everyone – tips for brand-new users, dashboard developers, managers, trainers, Center of Excellence/BICC staff, and more! You’ll even see what this has to do with dataviz:

And maybe even see some of my childhood Lego collection as part of a lesson on data’s a registration link, I hope to see you there!

#data16 Makes 5: My 2016 Tableau Conference Preview

In about 42 hours I’ll be getting on a plane to Austin, TX for the 2016 Tableau Conference, the highlight of my Tableau year where I get to meet, learn from, and celebrate with 12,000 dataviz geeks and a couple of thousand of their enablers (the lovely and talented Tableau employees who make it all possible). This year will be my fifth Tableau Conference and it hasn’t gotten old, I’m in a new role this year as a consultant and trainer at DataBlick so my focus is a little different. I’m certainly going to learn some more, I’m also networking [plug-alert] hey, did you know that you can hire DataBlick to help you do awesome things with Tableau?[/plug-alert], but most importantly I’m getting the chance to serve the fantastic Tableau community by cheering on some great work, showing off some cool projects and hopefully inspiring others to get involved, and helping other users. Here’s a list of some anticipated highlights of my week:

  • All week
    • Meeting people, making new friends, finally getting to see friends who I’ve never met in person, talking about my favorite piece of software, and whatever seems important.
    • Handing out new business cards! We did a redesign at DataBlick and for our website and business cards we have caricatures of ourselves, here’s my totally Zen’ed out Tableau fanboi pic:
      We’re running a contest for whoever can collect all 5 (or 6!) of them, check it out at link. And we’ve got some other swag that I’m really looking forward to handing out, including some presents for the Tableau devs.
  •  Monday
    • Hackathon: One of my #TCMemories from last year’s conference (pic below) was the Web Data Connector Hackathon, seeing dozens of customer developers building out new connectors was fantastic, I’m excited to see even more development that builds out the Tableau ecosystem.
    • Data+Women Meetup: I’m really happy to support the fantastic work and community-building that has been happening with the Data+Women effort.
    • MakeoverMonday: This runs concurrently with Data+Women so I won’t be there. 🙁 What the Andy’s (Cotgreave and Kriebel) started and what the community has collectively created is amazing! Did you know they just won an InformationIsBeautiful award?
  •  Tuesday
    • Healthcare & Life Sciences Meetup. Andy Dé who leads Tableau’s work in healthcare will be facilitating this, I’m looking forward to meeting other healthcare users there. And as I’m one of the leaders of the Tableau Healthcare User Group I’ll be networking to find speakers for our next meetings!
    • Keynote – Tableau Vision. Like it or not Tableau will be having some amount of a culture shift with the new CEO, I’m looking forward to seeing what they say in public and reading the tea leaves.
    • Tableau Labs (they run all week). I used to work in software development and I love that Tableau gives us the opportunity as users to talk directly with the devs about what’s coming, what we like, and what we need.
    • Data-Driven Alerts Come to Tableau. As one of the developers of VizAlerts I applaud Tableau for continuing to build out native alerting functionality and I’m looking forward to Zac Woodall’s presentation.
    • Supporting Eradicating Malaria in Zambia by 2020. I’ve been a volunteer on the #visualizenomalaria project with the Ministry of Health in Zambia, PATH, and the Tableau Foundation and it’s really inspiring. In fact some of the code I’ve contributed to VizAlerts has been to meet requirements for Zambia. Jeff Bernson, Anya A’Hearn, Allan Walker, and I will be sharing our stories and pointing out ways that you can get involved in this or other projects.
    • Devs on Stage. As much as I can point out the flaws in Tableau the developers know them better than me because they are living in that, and there are many fantastic things too. This is the devs moment to shine and a chance for me to cheer them on and appreciate them for what they’ve built that has changed my life, I’ll be down in front and making a lot of noise.
    • Elections! Besides the general elections the *really* important election for me is at my daughter’s awesome school where she (at the age of 9!) is running for school president, they’ve done a whole election theme where she’s had to write and give speeches, produce media, participate in debates, get interviewed, etc. (Yes, I’m a proud papa). If you see me staring at my phone Tuesday afternoon it’s because I’m updating my Facebook feed for the election results.
  • Wednesday
    • Healthcare User Group. I’m facilitating this lunchtime group where we’ll have another meetup and Nicole Webb and Marina Chakhalyan of Adventist Health will be presenting a great story on a workforce dashboard. I’m told that this user group will fill up, so get there early!
    • Jedi Chart Types. Chris DeMartini and Adam McCann are going to describe how they build their stunningly beautiful network graphs.
    • VizAlerts: KPI-Based Alerting, Burst Emails, and More for Tableau. Matt Coles and I will be  presenting VizAlerts 2.0 and a whole series of demos of use cases for VizAlerts and where it’s applicable (or not). We’ve also got a special audience-interactive demo (and contest!) planned.
    • Use Tableau Like a Sith. Unfortunately this is scheduled at the same time as my VizAlerts session so I can’t be there but I’ll be there in spirit. Plus DataBlick has something special in store for the Sith-lords in training.
    • Data Night Out. I have so many great memories of making new friends here and catching up with old ones, it’s always a highlight. Here’s a shot of a few thousand folks at #data15, plus a few crazy ones heading out on an aerial tour of the party:
  • Thursday
    • Zens in the Community. I’ll be in the Tableau Community area for an hour to meet whoever shows up, I love to hear what people are doing and encourage them to get more involved.
    • Tableau Zen Doctor. One of the responsibilities of being a Tableau Zen Master is that we spend some time in Tableau Doctor helping users, for me helping other users on the Tableau forums, over email, over screenshares, and with HelpMeDataBlick has taught me so much that I’m grateful for the opportunity to do that in person.
    • Bill Nye. The USA only seems to have room for a couple of public scientists at a time, I’m thankful we got to see Neil deGrass Tyson (twice!) and now Bill Nye.

And there’s all the ones that I won’t get to see in person but will be watching on video afterwards, sessions by Doug Grindel and Alan Eldridge and Bethany Lyons and Jock MacKinlay and Maureen Stone and Craig Bloodworth and Jewel Loree and Michael Kovner and Amanda Pype and  Mark Jackson and Matt Francis and Heidi Lam and Andy Kriebel and Melanie Tory and Jeffrey Shaffer and so many more…it’s going to be a great week.

If you want to connect with me during the week, look for me on Twitter @jonathandrummey. Also Keith Helfrich and Chris DeMartini have put together a time-suck of a #data16 Twitter network analysis viz at, it’s totally fascinating! Tweet #data16net to let them know you are looking at it!

See you there!

#data15 – What I’m Looking Forward To

Fellow Tableau enthusiasts Joshua Milligan and Andy Kriebel have done their posts on what’s up for next week’s Tableau Conference, here’s what I’m looking forward to:

1. Hanging with my Tableau Tribe

I’m the only hardcore Tableau user at my day job (though we’re hiring! ) so getting to see old friends and make new ones each year is a highlight. If you see me, please do say hello!

Tableau Zen Masters 2012

Would you believe I’d never met these guys until a day or so before this pic was taken?

2. Devs on Stage

Toys! Toys! Shiny new toys! Though the Tableau Zen Masters do get the occasional sneak peek into what Tableau is developing, this year Tableau has been extra-quiet about what they will be revealing at the keynote on Tuesday morning. What will we be seeing? I don’t know! And I’m super-excited!

3. Tableau on a Shoestring: Successful Deployment on a Tiny Budget

That’s my session, I’m looking forward to it for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m looking forward to being finished with it — doing the kind of genuine & real writing that I do is like shoving my hand down my throat to rip out my heart and other juicy bits then putting them down on display for the world to see. The outcome is always worth the effort for me, though. Second, I’m looking forward to sharing some lessons learned, both things that went well and mistakes I’ve made.

I don’t have the budget that Matt Francis does for promoting his session (this is Tableau on a Shoestring after all), so here’s my teaser:

I hope to see you at #data15!


PS: If you’re not going, check out the Virtual Conference where some sessions will be streamed, and you can watch last year’s sessions (many of the Tableau employee sessions are repeated from year to year) at Tableau Conference Television.

Can I Help You??

This post is a shameless plug, if you’re looking for Tableau tips you can use the links to right.

About every 10 days (SD ~7) I get an inquiry from someone around the world looking for Tableau talent. I’ve occasionally taken on an engagement, mostly I’ve had a list of consultancies and consultants I’ve forwarded inquirers to. Now my name is on the list and you can work with me: I’m joining DataBlick on a part-time basis.

You can get one-on-one or group training & support from me on whatever Tableau topics that I’m knowledgeable about (calculations, structuring data, making the transition from Excel to Tableau, table calculations, conditional formatting, LOD expressions, etc. etc.). If you’re wondering what I might be able to do for you, here’s what one long-time Tableau user said:

I sat in on Jonathan Drummey’s “Extreme Data Blending” session, and was amazed at the depths he’s plumbed in ferreting out the mysteries of how data blending works. Even better was the clarity of his presentation, making the complex and esoteric seem familiar and graspable. I’m now much better equipped to employ data blending to good effect than I was a day ago. — Chris Gerrard, Tableau Friction

And if I can’t deliver what you need, I know some good people and would be happy to make a recommendation!

I’m available from 5-7pm Eastern on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and 5-7am Eastern on Fridays — great for folks in Europe, Africa, and Asia. These are short-term engagements: Maybe you’re stuck on a specific problem, or need help building some Tableau skills, or maybe you want to help your team do some targeted training. If you’d like to set up a standing appointment for a regular review, I can do that too. Other folks at DataBlick are available for longer engagements, the appointment-based structure we’re calling Help me, DataBlick! is trying out a new & different way of assisting and supporting Tableau users and several of us have hours available.

Why DataBlick?

The simple answer is who wouldn’t want to call Anya A’Hearn, Joe Mako, Noah Salvaterra, and Chris DeMartini co-workers? Early in my career I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who told me to be around people who were smart in ways that I’m not. Every single one of the DataBlick team does amazing work and has changed the ideas of what’s possible in Tableau: Anya creating astounding designs; Joe rethinking the interaction between data, Tableau’s inner workings and the viz that we see (plus setting an incredibly high bar for kindness and generosity in the Tableau community); Noah building amazeballs visualizations; and Chris finding new ways to build network graphs. And besides their boundless creativity, they all have a couple of traits that I much appreciate: the stubbornness to stick with a problem to see it through and come out the other side with new learning and the desire to share that learning with others. I’m grateful to have them as colleagues!

The more complicated answer involves a spreadsheet with the family budget and the 10 year projections for our daughters’s college expenses. [If that’s not something you think about, then please consider yourself lucky!] I’m still at my day job and will continue blogging and writing about Tableau. Working with DataBlick supports my family and enables me to help other users (like you?) get to know my favorite piece of software (ever!).

If you’d like to set up a session with me or one of the other DataBlick consultants (I’m available starting today) you can book an appointment in 1 hour or 1/2 hour increments.

Getting Good at Tableau – the Screencast

A recurring question in the Tableau community is “How do I learn Tableau?” I’ve tried to answer that question a couple of times now in a presentation that I gave in-person in July 2014 at the Maine Tableau User Group and then a revised audio-only version earlier in November when I was a guest on the Tableau Wannabe Podcast with Matt Francis and Emily Kund

Here’s the full presentation as a screencast:

And the Getting Good at Tableau pdf (45MB).

This is my first screencast, any feedback is much appreciated!

Want to work with me? We’re hiring!

Southern Maine Health Care has an opening for a data analyst in Quality Management. Or, to put it another way, you’d get to be in the office sitting next to me, see lots of arts & crafts from my daughter and hear me brag about her gymnastics exploits, eat amazing desserts, learn all of my Tableau tricks, and hopefully teach me some new ones.

Seriously, though (well, I am serious about teaching and learning and my officemates are fantastic bakers), what we’re up to is improving patient safety and quality of care. On a daily basis I get to help people who save lives, and I work with an awesome team of doctors and nurses who are passionate, dedicated, smart, and really appreciative of the assistance I give them in analyzing and understanding data. Being a non-profit system in a changing environment, you’re not going to get a big Silicon Valley or Wall Street salary here, so there’s a tradeoff. That said, Maine doesn’t have Silicon Valley’s cost of living either, and there are a whole lot of plusses besides to tempt you to work in this northeast corner of the US. Here are some of my favorites:

  • lakeWe’re on the coast, yet there are mountains, lakes, and a lot of woods close by. We get all four seasons (gorgeous falls, snow in winter, mud in spring, and hot muggy summers), and as long as you subscribe to the adage “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.” you can have a great time swimming, sailing, skiing, hiking, biking, etc.
  • Pace of life. Compared to big cities and their ‘burbs life runs a bit more slowly here, which suits me.
  • Architecture. The old mill towns have amazing construction and details, and the old farmhouses with their “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn” design (I live in one) are a fascinating mix of form and function. (As well as many opportunities for learning home repair & improvement skills).
  • Food. Portland and the surrounding towns have become a foodie mecca, including Biddeford where I work. Bon Appetit just named the Palace Diner to its best new restaurants list, and Business Insider named Elements: Books Coffee Beer to its best coffee shops list.

2184592The data analyst posted position doesn’t have many details, here are some more: The core skill set we’re looking for includes the key data analyst skills – curiousity, the ability to listen and learn, the right amount of “data OCD” for identifying outliers/trends/problems and the drive to figure them out, plus the ability to formulate questions, find answers, and present conclusions. Having SQL skills or being great at Excel and ready to learn SQL are necessary, along with a willingness to use Tableau (no prior Tableau experience is required). Beyond those must-haves, one or more of the following would be great: experience in healthcare quality metrics, financial analysis (particularly as it applies to healthcare), scripting & coding (Python & JavaScript preferred), database design, data visualization & dashboard design, statistical analysis, and/or process improvement (Lean, Six Sigma, etc.)

The set of tasks is pretty varied: You would be working to integrate new data sources and new metrics (we have over 110 active data sources tracking over 1000 metrics), find ways to improve efficiencies in quality management and beyond, and be responsible for a set of regularly-updated dashboards and reports, and have opportunities to redesign them to improve communication. A key goal in the next year is to find & develop ways to get more information out sooner throughout the organization.

SMHC Biddeford MC at Day BreakOrganizationally, SMHC is the largest employer in York County and a local institution. This is a different model from a start-up environment, here we get the job done, work our hours, and get to go home. Overall, Maine hospitals are the best in the country at quality and patient safety; we’re part of that, and the goal is to get even better. As an integrated healthcare system including two hospitals and over a dozen outpatient physician offices we’re big enough to have a variety of interesting problems, yet small enough that one person can have influence. Within weeks of starting you’d be presenting analytics to front line clinicians and/or senior management. A core challenge we are dealing with is working out how we can transition healthcare in our area from an ultimately unsustainable payor and delivery model to something more sustainable while increasing patient safety, quality of care, and improving how we do our jobs, and that’s part of why I’m here.

If you’re interested in this job, feel free to contact me at jonathan (dot) drummey (at) gmail or directly apply.

#data14 – Start Your Blenders!

I’m going to plug some sessions for the 2014 Tableau Conference, if you want to promote yourself please add a comment below!

Getting your blend on has never been easier

At the 2014 Tableau Conference there’s a whole track worth of sessions on data blending by some fabulous folks, with my comments in italics.

  • Mix It Up: Data Blending Basics by Alex Woodcock of Tableau. Beginner, Wednesday 10:45am-1:00pm and Thursday, 10:45am-1:00pm. If you’ve never blended before, this is the class for you.
  • What’s In Your Blender by Charles Schaefer and Kelly Hotta of Tableau. Advanced, Tuesday, 11:15am-12:15pm. Tips and tricks for data blending.
  • Jedi Calculation Techniques by Bethany Lyons and Alan Eldridge of Tableau. Jedi, Tuesday, 11:15am-1:30pm Room also Wednesday 3:30-6pm. Covers when blending might be used among lots of other non-blending topics in the 2hr session.
  • Become a Mix Master with Data Blending by Bethany Lyons of Tableau. Jedi, Tuesday, 2:30-3:30pm  and Wednesday, 10:45-11:45am. Bethany gave this presentation at the London conference, it covers how blending works in more detail.
  • Mix and Match Your Data: Advanced Data Blending by Alex Woodcock of Tableau, Advanced,Tuesday, 2:30pm-5:00pm and Wednesday, 3:30-6pm. 2hr training to bootstrap yourself from basic to more advanced knowledge of data blending.
  • Flowing with Tableau by Joe Mako (Tableau guru to the gurus), Jedi, Wednesday, 12-1pm. See how Joe approaches Tableau and conceives of the solutions that he does, he gave a similar talk in California this summer.
  • Extreme Data Blending by Jonathan Drummey (yours truly), Jedi, Wednesday, 3:30-4:30pm. See below.

I’m energized about all of these sessions, especially Joe Mako’s. It’s not so much tips and tricks, but instead how to “think Tableau” and work with the software. I’ve used the metaphor of a structured poem before, in that when writing something like a sonnet we have certain conventions to follow, and as long as we do we can have lovely results, the same goes with Tableau in how we structure the data and use the different features and functions in the software.

Picture1My own session on Extreme Data Blending mashes up South Park and Frozen in a deep dive into how data blending works. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned, especially how that every single odd, strange, or seemingly broken result of data blending actually has a logic and reasoning behind it that can be understood, explained, and even made use of. If you’re new to data blending and want to attend my session, I suggest you go to one of the other sessions to get grounded in blending behaviors. If you’ve been using blending already, I promise you you’ll learn something new, though if you’ve read all of my posts on data blending then some of the use cases will be familiar. If you’re already a Tableau Jedi, you’ll like this session because I’ve purposely created it to start out with a review of known territory, then we’re going Jedi++.

A few other sessions and meetups that I’d like to plug are:

  • First timers and conference newbiesEmily Kund and Matt Francis (they host the one and only Tableau Wannabe Podcast, totally worth a listen) are hosting a conference orientation session Monday at 4pm, before the welcome reception. They then repeat that First Timers’ Field Guide session Tuesday at 11:15am
  • Tableau Community Meetup – Wednesday, 12:30-2pm in Community Alley. Here’s your chance to meet in real life Tracy, Patrick, and Jordan who run the Tableau forums along with assorted other forum helpers.
  • Meet the Tableau Zen Masters – Besides my session, the one place you can definitely find me (ok, besides stalking Neale Degrasse Tyson and Hans Rosling for selfies) is here on Wednesday at 6pm, though I’m not sure yet where “here” will be.
  • Women in Data Meetup – Jenn Day and Anya A’Hearn are hosting this meetup on Tuesday at 12:45pm in the University Room at the Sheraton. I think it’s fantastic Jenn & Anya are hosting this and that Tableau is supporting the meetup, see #womenindata for more on the topic. We all need to find our tribes, maybe this is yours!

See you in Seattle!