Tableau and R Integration

23. July 2014 15:06 by Eric in Analytics, Tableau  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Hi All,

Have been tasked to put together a quick write-up about Tableau and R integration for the IM Dashboarding solution based upon the Tableau latest 8.2 releases.

Please see my research details as follows and more than welcome for any feedback from all of you:

As many people might know that Tableau just released the latest 8.2 version to the global market with a bunch of new exciting features (http://www.tableausoftware.com/new-features/8.2), do you also know that the Tableau also supports R Integration since version 8.1 on the Desktop & Server tools (Not on Tableau Reader yet).

Benefits for using R

As an open-source almost 2.5 million user base analytics platform, R provides a wide variety of analytic analysis goodies here – it includes that statistical tests, linear and nonlinear modeling, time-series analysis, classification and clustering.

There are many benefits by leveraging R into the Tableau toolkits and please see the key points as follows:

· It’s free and open-source backed by the community and millions professionals.

· The free functions and rich features can be created all the time by the domain experts and other industrial professionals and the quality of the libraries will be assured by the community and experts.

· Enrich Tableau with a growing collection of statistical analysis and data mining libraries to help them gain deeper insights from their data.

Integration with R

Getting R set up with Tableau Desktop/Server requires R and Rserve installed and configured.

· R can be simply grabbed from http://cran.us.r-project.org/

· Rserve is a package created from Tableau communities in order to connect to the Tableau applications

· Rserve required to be installed on the command line and got connected to the Tableau via “Rserve Connection” configuration Screen or the tabadmin command line on the Tableau Server environment

· R functions and models can now be used in Tableau by creating new calculated fields that dynamically invoke the R engine and pass values to R.

Common Question about Tableau + R Integration

Q: Can we use precompiled packages, models, and other things with Tableau and R?

A: Yes. The general rule is, if you can do it in R, you can easily integrate it with Tableau. This includes any statistical packages, parallel computing packages, models and libraries, whether they are standard within R or if you create them independently. This also includes commercialized versions of R, including Revolution Analytics. You can also return data frames from R one column at a time.

Q: When integrating Tableau and R, what is the best practice for debugging R scripts or discovering errors?

A: There are two ways to do this. The first is to use the 'write.csv' command within the calculated field that calls an R script. The other, is to use the debug version of the standalone executable of Rserve (Rserve_d.exe) which will print out any code that R is performing as Tableau calls the R scripts.

Q: Can you use R to reshape data?

A: Yes, see this example (http://www.tableausoftware.com/solutions/r-integration) where R and multidimensional scaling are used to reshape 1600+ columns into Tableau.

Q: Can Tableau pass data from a relational database to R?

A: Yes, Tableau can pass data from any source and run R scripts on that data, whether a flat-file, relational database, cube, or an unstructured data store.

Q: Can you dynamically pass various levels of drill-down dimensions to an R function?

A: Yes, and very easily too. In Tableau, R scripts are run in table calculations and therefore can be run against various dimensions. Simply change the aggregation level of the desired dimension and compute the table calculation accordingly.

Q: How do you run a function with a mix of variable types?

A: Tableau can send R mixed types of data. In SCRIPT_X, the X represents the variable type that is returned to Tableau. In most cases, the one column returned to Tableau will contain a single variable type. If there are mixed types (e.g. mixed number and text values), it can be returned as a string using SCRIPT_STR.

Q: What is the best practice for R Integration with Tableau that R models can be reused within the same session?

A: See this getting started whitepaper(http://www.tableausoftware.com/learn/whitepapers/using-r-and-tableau) about Rserve. It provides more details about saved sessions, and the difference between Windows and Linux installations of Rserve in private vs. shared environments.

Q: Does Tableau Reader integrate with R?

A : At this time, you will need Tableau Desktop or Tableau Server to view a Tableau workbook with R scripts.

 

Lastly, it’s also worth pointing out here that Tableau by default comes with its own built-in Analytics Models and capabilities, so please feel free to check out the following resources if you would like to explore:

http://www.tableausoftware.com/new-features/forecasting

http://www.tableausoftware.com/learn/webinars/using-analytics-be-predictive-and-proactive

Hope you would find it useful.

All Best,

Eric

Another cool Data Visualization example

8. July 2014 12:08 by Eric in Analytics, General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Hi all,

Just quickly sharing this cool Data Visualization example here -> Hacker live attacks visualization http://map.ipviking.com and hope everybody would enjoy it!




All Best,
Eric

A quick Intro about the Microsoft Power BI & product comparison among Power BI, QlikView & Tableau

3. July 2014 13:49 by Eric in Analytics, PowerQuery, QlikView, SharePoint, SQL Server, Tableau  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Hi all,

Have been tasked to put together a quick write-up with respect to the Microsoft Power BI in comparison to QlikView & Tableau for a potential larger BI solution piece for a well-respected client.

Just sharing my research with everyone here and more than welcome for any feedback from all of you:

An brief overview of Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is a collection of different Excel add-ins, SQL Server services features, SharePoint and/or the Office 365 Cloud. Although desktop Power Pivot add-ins can be easily installed in Excel 2010 and is already embedded along with Power View in Excel 2013, Microsoft BI on-premise server set ups are complicated, one week or longer installations and configurations of SharePoint, SQL Server and Reporting Services that also require Active Directory accounts and Kerberos for authentication.

(Note: Power View is both embedded in Excel 2013 but also as a stand-alone version via Reporting Services Power View reports hosted in SharePoint. Each version has a different mix of capabilities.

Great ETL & Data Cleansing/Validation Components

Microsoft Power Query is quite nice and has both basic and advanced self-service ETL capabilities including pivot/un-pivot, joining, filtering, de-duplicating, grouping, splitting, and transforms.

More advanced functionality can be achieved via Power Query M scripting. Although Power Query is in preview and a v 1.0 offering, it gets monthly enhancements and already has proven to be a great tool for personal data collection and shaping.

Not fully compatible for Tablet/Mobile devices yet

Microsoft Power View was designed in Silverlight. The Office 365 Power BI Cloud version of Power View has an HTML5 option in preview for some of the chart types. On-premise Microsoft BI Power View is only Silverlight today and not fully mobile device friendly.


Data Visualization not as appealing as Tableau

Microsoft Power View has basic bar charts, line charts, pie charts, a scatter chart and non-customizable Bing Maps that can show pie charts or circles – no thematic mapping or overlays.

Power View is lacking combination charts, dual axis charts and many other common chart types. Power View does not allow granular control of visualizations, axes, colors, labels, annotations, drill actions, conditional formatting or visualization display logic, visual banding, statistical reference lines or custom marks.

There is not an API for automatically building Power View visualizations. Only Power View scatter charts in can play over time periods. Power View does not support easily viewing underlying details or exporting the view data. You can do some simple drill drowns. There is no comparable export of Power View detail data shown on a view. To see the raw underlying detail data, you need go back to the back-end Power Pivot model.

Power View does not have features for changing data color variations, KPI icons are only circles, no chart object sizing, contouring and no customization of tool tips. Power View does have text sizing and limited chart labeling options.

Product Comparison

Here are just some insights based upon the BI/Analytics communities practice and be categorized into the following aspects: Business Criteria, Data Visualization Criteria and Technical Criteria.

As mentioned before, it’s just another product comparison based upon people personal view over those products according to their own preferences and practices experience.

 

Business Criteria

Tableau

QlikView

Microsoft / Power BI - SQL Server 2014/SharePoint 2013

Comment

Time to implement

Fast

Longer

Longer

 

Scalability

Good

RAM Limited

Excellent

Tableau: virtual RAM

Enterprise Ready

Good for small organizations who can use the cloud option.

Good for medium businesses

Good for SMB

Qlikview is more mature but Microsoft has a much clearer vision than previously. Tableau is demonstrably used in many large organizations, as their customer list shows.

Long-term viability

Fastest growth

Public company

Dependable

Excel is widely used in the organization so no adoption is required

Getting free online help?

Tableau forums

Qlikview LinkedIn group

Microsoft online communities

Tableau and Microsoft provide great free online help. Qlikview has its own forum which you sign up for. Tableau has the best free training videos I've ever seen.

Getting paid training

Yes

Yes

Yes

The costs vary depending on the courses.

Big Data Support

Above Average

Average

yes, ODBC connectivity to HDInsight

It is on all of their roadmaps. Tableau offers a bewildering number of ways to connect to lots of data sources. However, they don't connect to PDW very well so Microsoft wins for PDW support. It isn't clear if QlikView support PDW or not.

Partner Network

Tableau: 1000+ partners

Qlikview: 1000+ partners

A lot more partners

 

 

Visualization Criteria

Tableau

Qlikview

Microsoft / Power BI - SQL Server 2014/SharePoint 2013

Comment

Eye Candy' Appear

Yes

medium

Medium

Tableau blows users away with its beautiful data visualization.

Data Interactivity

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Tableau's interactivity has improved a lot and hits the mark for a lot of requirements. The scripting requirement in QlikView makes me a bit wary for users. Microsoft's various reporting tools need to be aligned more.

Visual Drilldown

Excellent

Excellent

Very Good

Power BI Excel has a neat drill down feature.

Offline Viewer

Free Tableau Reader

Personal Edition

Excel spreadsheets downloaded

Tableau and Power BI offer Excel downloads for offline viewing.

Analyst's Desktop

Tableau Pro

Qlikview Desktop

Excel

Excel is familiar within the organization.

Dashboard Support

Good

Excellent

Excellent

Dashboarding methodologies can be implemented in QlikView and Tableau. Tableau has basic default KPIs but these can be manufactured easily enough. QlikView seem to be popular with finance departments and seem to talk well with them.

Web Client

Very Good

Very Good

Very Good

No real distinguishing factor here. Microsoft has Excel services and we know that business users love Excel!

Mobile Clients

Excellent

Excellent

Good

Tableau and Qlikview have an edge on Microsoft for now, but the release of PowerBI for O365 is visibly getting traction and interest in the Preview.

Visual Controls

Very Good

Very Good

Very Good

 

 

Technical Criteria

Tableau

Qlikview

Microsoft / Power BI - SQL Server 2014/SharePoint 2013

Comment

Data Integration

Excellent

Very Good

Very Good

Tableau integrates easily with Google Analytics for further analysis, but this is not required at the early stages of a BI strategy. You can get extra connectors for QlikView from DataRoket

Development

Tableau Pro

Qlikview Developer

SQL Server Business Intelligence or Excel skills

QlikView has scripting, which the organization will need to learn. This may incur training costs. If the organization already has strong SQL Server BI Developer skills in-house, and would not require further training.

64-bit in-RAM DB

Good

Excellent

Excellent

SQL Server 'talks' to other systems and will output data easily to QlikView and other formats. This is not reciprocated i.e. once the data is in QlikView, it stays in QlikView.

Mapping support

Excellent

Average

Excellent

Tableau has Mapping. Excel 2013 has 3D Power Map as a feature within it, and this is interesting for further, future analyses.

Local data files (text, spreadsheet etc.)

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Relational databases (SQLServer, Oracle etc.)

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

OLAP cubes (SSAS, Essbase etc.)

Yes

No

Yes

 As for SQL Server 2014 & 2012 SP1 CPU4 onward, the PowerView can directly connect to both tabular and multi-dimensional BI Semantic Model and before SQL Server 2012 SP1 CPU4, the PowerView could only connect to tabular semantic models.

Online data sources

Yes

Yes

Yes

Microsoft's new Power Query allows you to search online and scrape datasets straight into Excel.

Multi-source access

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Multi-table access

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Extracted data storage

Optional (proprietary)

Proprietary

Data remains where it is.

 

Maximum capacity

Unlimited

Billions of rows

   

In-memory engine

Desktop or Server

Desktop or Server

 

Tableau reads SSAS and PowerPivot Cubes, but not very well. Tableau and QlikView want to suck the data into their own data models; Microsoft keeps the data where it is, where it is easily accessible by Microsoft and other vendors.

Modeling, Analytics

Below Average

Below Average

Data mining and other capabilities

Microsoft is the winner here for providing a range of modelling and analytics tools such as Tabular model, SSAS. Again, the organisation has experience in these tools so you are leveraging in-house skill sets.

Data Mining

Limited

Limited

Yes

By 'Data Mining', I mean true data mining e.g. building neural nets with thought put into it about avoiding jitter, bootstrapping and so on. This is not 'what if' scenarios but data science.

Multidimensional

Very Good

Limited

Excellent

Microsoft is the winner for multidimensional modelling

xVelocity Support

Good

None

Excellent

Microsoft is a pioneer in xVelocity support

PowerPivot Support

Good

None

Excellent

Microsoft is a pioneer in xVelocity support

API

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Microsoft open their software up and have APIs available

 

Hope you would find it useful & any feedbacks are highly welcomed here!

 

All Best,

Eric

SharePoint 2010 Best Practices

10. July 2012 10:17 by Eric in SharePoint  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

As a SharePoint consultant, chances are that the clients will always ask for the latest “SharePoint Best Practices” for business users and technical perspectives while I’m consulting on-site with them.

While I’m continuously evolving my own version of “SharePoint Best Practices” pack, I find that “SharePoint 2010 Best practice” from “Microsoft TechNet Wiki” can be extremely handy and resourceful. (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/8666.sharepoint-2010-best-practices-en-us.aspx)

The wiki is a growing article and I’ve subscribed to it so that I can stay in touch. There are already some excellent resources and I’ve learnt of several new sources that I’m going to follow up.

The Wiki has the following Table of Contents:

I bet that most SharePoint consultants will enjoy this as much as I do.

If you are interested in the interactive Mindjet version, alternatively you can download the SWF version of the file here: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/20530832/SharePoint%202010%20Best%20Practices.swf

SharePoint Governance Resource Centre

2. May 2012 11:39 by Eric in SharePoint  //  Tags:   //   Comments (1)

As a SharePoint consultant, every once while the client we consult with will ask for a SharePoint Governance Plan documentation in order to control how an organization's Business divisions and IT teams cooperate to achieve business goals by leveraging the SharePoint platform.

This is an informative resource centre I normally reference to while documenting the governance plan -> http://www.letscollaborate.co.za/Resource-Centre/SitePages/SharePointGovernance.aspx

I'm more than happy to hear from you if you came across other white papers and documentations for your past and current SharePoint projects ;)

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