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What is Tableau?

Tableau is one of the leaders in data visualization software and is very popular among institutions of higher education.  It is known for being both quick and easy to learn and for producing quality visualizations that uncover previously hidden insights in the data.

Tableau has two components:

  1. A desktop component that runs on the computer of the user (Tableau Desktop) and
  2. A sharing component that allows the user to share workbooks and dashboards with others

There are four Tableau products that facilitate sharing:

  1. Tableau Server is the enterprise sharing component and is installed on premise.
  2. Tableau Online is a cloud-hosted version of Tableau Server. The cost is less than Tableau Server and the environment is managed by Tableau.
  3. Tableau Public is a free service for publishing views that can be shared publicly.
  4. Tableau Reader is a free tool that allows users to open and view visualizations built in Tableau Desktop for free.

How do I get Tableau Desktop?

If you don’t have Tableau Desktop, you can sign up for a free 14 day trial version to try it out.

Once you have tried the software out, your options to obtain a license vary depending upon your status:

  1. USI students may download the software for free -
  2. USI faculty who plan to use the software in teaching may also download the software for free -
  3. USI staff may purchase a license for the software -

It is important to note that free versions of the software are subject to verification.

Training and Tutorials

There are several free resources available to help anyone learn how to explore and share your data.

Tableau also offers eLearningclassroom training and live online training to purchase.

There are also several companies that sell more in-depth learning approaches.

Community and Support

Tableau is also known for having an enthusiastic community that embraces sharing and helping other users.

If you need additional support with Tableau, the Institutional Analytics Office (IAO) is able to provide assistance. You may contact IAO via email at or submit our Request Project Assistance form.