Tag Archives: Tableau

Interesting Links #4

These seem to get longer and longer. A whole pile of links for you.

Management and Organisational Behaviour

How Serving Is Your Leadership? – Who is working for who here?

Be a Manager – “The only reason there’s so many awful managers is that good people like you refuse to do the job.”

I’m the Boss! Why Should I Care If You Like Me? – Because your team will be more productive… Here are some pointers.

Software Development

Technical debt 101 – Do you think you know what technical debt is and how to tackle it? Even so I’m sure this article has more you can discover and learn. A must read.

Heisenberg Developers – So true. In fact this hits a little close to home since we use JIRA, the bug tracking tool mentioned in the article.

What is Defensive Coding? – Many think that defensive coding is just making sure you handle errors correctly but that is a small part of the process.

Need to Learn More about the Work You’re Doing? Spike It! – So you are an agile shop, your boss is demanding some story estimates and you have no idea how complex the piece of work is because it’s completely new. What do you do?

Software Development with Feature Toggles – Don’t branch, toggle instead.

Agile practices roundup – here are a number of articles I’ve found useful recently:

How to review a merge commit– Phil dives into the misunderstood world of merge commits and reviews. Also see this list of things to look out for during code reviews.

Functional Programming

Don’t Be Scared Of Functional Programming – A good introduction to functional programming concepts using JavaScript as the demonstration language.

Seamlessly integrating T-SQL and F# in the same code – The latest version of FSharp.Data allows you to write syntax checked SQL directly in your F# source and it executes as fast as Dapper.

Railway Oriented Programming – This is a functional technique but I’ve recently been using it in C# when I needed to process many items in a sequence, any of which could fail and I want to collect all the errors up for reporting back to ops. It is harder to do in C# since there are no discriminated unions but a custom wrapper class is enough.

Erlang and code style – A different language this time, Erlang. How easy is programming when you don’t have to code defensively and crashing is the preferred way of handling errors.

Twenty six low-risk ways to use F# at work – Some great ways to get into F# programming without risking your current project.

A proposal for a new C# syntax – A lovely way to look at writing C# using a familiar but lighter weight syntax. C#6 have some of these features planned but this goes further. Do check out the link at the end of the final proposal.

Excel-DNA: Three Stories – Integrating F# into Excel – a data analysts dream…

Data Warehousing

Signs your Data Warehouse is Heading for the Boneyard – Some interesting things to look out for if you hold the purse strings to a data warehouse project. How many have you seen before?

The 3 Big Lies of Data – I’ve heard these three lies over and over from business users and technology vendors alike. Who is kidding who?

Six things I wish we had known about scaling – Not specifically about data warehouses but these are all issues we see on a regular basis.

Why Hadoop Only Solves a Third of the Growing Pains for Big Data – You can’t just go and install a Hadoop cluster. There is more to it than that.

Microsoft Azure Machine Learning – Finally it looks like we can have a simple way of doing cloud scale data mining.

Data Visualization

5 Tips to Good Vizzin’ – So many visualizations break these rules.

Five indicators you aren’t using Tableau to its full potential – I’ve seen a few of these recently – tables anyone?

Create a default Tableau Template – Should save some time when you have a pile of dashboards to create.

Building a Tableau Center of Excellence – It is so easy to misunderstand Tableau which is not helped by a very effective sales team. This article has some great advice for introducing Tableau into your organisation.

Beginner’s guide to R: Painless data visualization – Some simple R data visualization tips.

Visualizing Data with D3 – If you need complete control over your visualization then D3 is just what you need. It can be pretty low-level but its easy to produce some amazing stuff with a bit of JavaScript programming.


I Don’t Have Time for Unit Testing – I’ve recently been guilt of this myself so I like to keep a reminder around – you will go faster if you write tests.

Property Based Testing with FsCheck – FsCheck is a fantastic tool primarily used in testing F# code but there is no reason it can’t be used with C# too. It generates automated test cases to explore test boundaries. I love the concise nature of F# test code too especially with proper sentences for test names.

Analysis Services

I’ve collected a lot of useful links for Analysis Services, both tabular and multidimensional:

DAX Patterns website – This website is my go-to resource for writing DAX calculations. These two are particularly useful:

Using Tabular Models in a Large-scale Commercial Solution – Experiences of SSAS tabular in a large solution. Some tips, tricks and things to avoid.


Interesting Links #3

Latest links for easy consumption over the May long weekends – I missed out on March so have dropped some of the less interesting ones to keep the list short.

Organisational Behaviour

Programmers, Teach Non-Geeks The True Cost of Interruptions – a simple way to show to your boss how drive-by-management kills programmer productivity. Also work reading Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule which highlights the differences. If this is still a problem then this notice might be your only solution

The Death Of Expertise – The Dunning-Kruger effect is often strong in semi-technical managers especially in industries where confidence plays a large part in success such as finance. This article discusses some of the problems related to treating all opinions as equal and ignoring experts.

Save Your Software from the Start: Overcoming Skewed Thinking in the Project Planning Stage – Very simply, why we always underestimate the true complexity and cost of a project plus some tools to help overcome these psychological effects.

Why Good Managers Are So Rare – Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units.

I Give Up: Extroverted Barbarians at the Gates – Anyone remember the “perpendicular transparent red lines” video doing the rounds? This is an on-the-nail deconstruction of what is happening and why it happens. If you are an introvert then this other post might feel very familiar to you.


Coconut Headphones: Why Agile Has Failed – A rant about how modern agile methodologies seem to only consist of management practises. Take note of the end points to being successful.

The death of agile? – Additional comment on the above. 

Writing User Stories for Back-end Systems – The real functionality a user sees in a business intelligence project is quite small and can easily be described in a few words. This makes breaking up user stories into sprint sized chunks hard. This article gives some great advice that can be translated to BI projects. 

Design Your Agile Project, Part 1 – So how do you pick the right kind of agile project? When should you use Kanban and when should you use Scrum? How is the business side of equation handled? Also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Large Agile Framework Appropriate for Big, Lumbering Enterprises – A perfect solution to doing agile in finance organisations (wink). Love the concept of ‘Pair Managing’.

Metrics that matter with evidence-based management – Its long but Martin does a great job looking at lots of the metrics in use today, why their use is limited and a far better approach to designing metrics that really help.


Is ETL Development doomed? – “Long term, the demand for ETL skills will decline”. The demand will mutate into one for more abstract ETL capabilities.


Intro to Unit Testing 9: Tips and Tricks – A handy list of tips that can make maintaining unit test code a little easier.

FsCheck + XUnit = The Bomb – Even if you write code in C# it may be wise to think about writing unit tests in F# since the code is more concise, easier to read and with FxCheck can find things you might not.

Data Visualization

5 Tips to Good Vizzin’ – Should be required reading for anyone who is thinking about creating dashboards in Tableau.

A Natural Approach to Analytics – This explains why using tools such as Tableau for largely static dashboards is a waste of time. Users need to interact with the data in a way they cannot do when relegated to dashboard consumers.

Big Data/Hadoop

Modern Financial Services Architectures Built with Hadoop – Hortonworks looks at big data in financial services.

Beyond hadoop: fast queries from big data – I think Hadoop might be catching up here but it is still a bit of an elephant compared to SQL Server/Oracle etc when it comes to raw query performance.

Don’t understand Big Data? Blame your genes! – 5 common errors for dealing with big data.

The Parable of Google Flu: Traps in Big Data Analysis – Big data answers are not always correct. This paper looks at some of the pitfalls.

No, Hadoop Isn’t Going To Replace Your Data Warehouse – More thoughts on modern data architectures and hybrid transactional/analytical processing.


Interesting Links #2

January was a long month so I’ve got quite a list for you. I may consider doing these more often if readers think there are too many items for a single list.


Self-Service Business Intelligence Governance – Essential reading/watching for anyone planning to deliver self-service business intelligence.

Five Stages of Data Grief – we’ve all been through this, “If you don’t think you have a quality problem with your data you haven’t looked at it yet”.

Functional Programming

Maybe that shouldn’t be settable – Bringing some of the F# Option type goodness into a C# world.

Software Process

Five Tips to Get Your Organisation Releasing Software Frequently – my team score well on these but culturally I can see some being quite difficult to implement, particularly around the devops style organisation of teams.

Pairing vs. Code Review: Comparing Developer Cultures – pros and cons for each style of quality culture. Which, if any, is best?

Is Agile BI Really a Better Mousetrap? – A great article on the benefits of agile BI. This really appeals due to its use of development process business intelligence – measure and optimise just like we preach to our customers.

Using Vertical Slicing and Estimation to make Business Decisions at Adobe – A good look at the release planning process at Adobe with some nice techniques discussed.

Personal Development

Of Orcs and Software Craftsmanship – Best quote of the month if you are a parent: “These are the types of error messages that make debugging a software like debugging a 2 month old baby.”

Yak Shaving Defined – Sometimes if feels like this all day long in software.

Organisational Behaviour

Performance Reviews Are Not Useful; Feedback Is – Personally I think performance reviews are something that human resources departments mandate; feedback is something that leaders give.

If Managers Don’t Give Performance Reviews, What Happens? – Well, as it turns out, a lot of good things start to happen.

Top 10 ways to ensure your best people will quit – some common mistakes; how many have you come across?

Testing and Test Driven Development

These next three links are related and if you read the first you should also read the second and third.

The Failures of “Intro to TDD” – Justin Searls rips into the current way of teaching test driven development.

The Domain Discontinuity – Bob Martin responds comprehensively but ends with why the issue is not about test driven development but wider issues such as architecture and domain design.

Commentary on ‘Roman Numerals Kata with Commentary’ – Ultimately you must understand your domain before trying to do test driven development.


Default Configuration of SQL Server – Like most software, out of the box SQL is configured for the most general case and may need extra tuning for specific workloads. Thomas gives a simple set of extra configuration changes and reasons why. Also love the quote “If you are working in a bank, they may not apply to you.”

Data Visualization

Announcing Power BI for Office 365 – In case you missed it, all the fancy new BI capabilities in the Microsoft cloud are publicly available now. Shame we are stuck using corporate infrastructure.

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts – A fun look at communication in chart form.

Ten Tips and Tricks for New Tableau users – A rather nausea inducing format but useful tips for making great Tableau dashboards.

Power Tools for Tableau – Desperate for some sort of an API with Tableau? This may be the answer.

Statistics and Data Analysis

Revolution Analytics – Want to run ‘R’ statistics against your Hadoop data? This seems to be the way to do it…

Learn R interactively with the swirl package – It looks like R is going to be an important tool for us so anything that makes it easier to learn is a bonus.

Learn Data Science Online with DataCamp – Similarly, learning data science online and interactively.

Analysis of Health Inspection Data using F# – Another great example of using F# (and D3) to analyse data quickly and easily.

Big Data

Big Data: The organizational challenge – Some interesting stats comparing companies with the best analytic capabilities vs. those that don’t.

Update on Stinger: the view from a Microsoft Committer – Stinger is the Hortonworks initiative for faster SQL queries against Hadoop. This article describes some of the recent performance gains.

How To Install Hadoop on Windows with HDP 2.0 – Get Hadoop running on Windows with a minimum of fuss. However, our local Hadoop expert recommends you only do this at home; in the enterprise just setup a proper development cluster.

How To Use Microsoft Excel to Visualize Hadoop Data – Tutorial for visualizing Hadoop data in Excel/PowerView, this one is for stock quotes.

How to Visualize Website Clickstream Data – Another Hadoop tutorial this time on web click-stream data.

50+ Open Source Tools for Big Data – I think one of the problems with open source is it littered with cute names that do little to describe software function so here is a useful list to help you distinguish the likes of Orient, Flock, Storm and others.

Building your own web analytics system using Big Data tools – Should you build these things yourself? What are the choices? Are there any risks?

Master Data the noun in Big Data sentences – I often talk about master data and spend more time worrying about dimension design than facts. It is useful to see how this applies to big data too.

You don’t have big data… – With all this talk of big data it is worth remembering that most use cases do not quality at big. Most likely you have ‘hot data’.


Interesting Links #1

Since I manage to read so much on the train I think readers will find some of the articles useful so I plan on listing up the best ones each month.

Business Intelligence




Development Process

Personal Development

Organisational Behaviour

  • The Open-Office Trap – New Yorker article rounding up all the research done one open space workplace productivity. Some interesting results among the expected ones.
  • Can-Do vs. Can’t-Do Culture – “The trouble with innovation is that truly innovative ideas often look like bad ideas at the time.” Next time you are thinking why something won’t work, take a moment to consider if you are stopping innovation.
  • Don’t interrupt developers – Absolutely nails why you should not interrupt developers.
  • Are Your Programmers Working Hard, Or Are They Lazy? – “the appearance of hard work is often an indication of failure” – a must read for both developers and managers.

Tableau European Customer Conference 2013

This week has been dominated by the Tableau Customer Conference. I was fortunate to get a ticket since it was sold out but one of our architects couldn’t go so I filled in. I’m glad I did.

It’s been a while since I got to learn about a completely new technology so it is a refreshing change to be a bit of a novice. After a number of Microsoft conferences this one felt quite different too – less geeky with a more mixed crowd. It was interesting to be able to talk with non-technical types such as data analysts, business managers and statisticians.

I mainly went to the technical sessions but a couple of the keynote sessions were really interesting. Firstly ‘Creating a culture of data at Facebook’ gave some useful ideas about creating communities and getting more staff comfortable with visualizations. It was also nice to listen to a blogger I’ve read for a while (but only just discovered worked for Facebook). The second was Prof. Hans Rosling. I’ve seen his TED talk but in person was completely different – probably because he was talking to a room full of data visualisation professionals. He had plenty of anecdotes about how his famous visualizations came about. Ellie Fields gives a good description of his talk.

So back to the day job now but with some new ideas about business intelligence and data visualization.