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Get to know our Tableau DataDev Ambassadors

Every year Tableau and the Tableau community recognises a group of people in the community that went above and beyond in certain areas of the tool. These people are better known as Tableau Ambassadors. A group of dedicated and motivated Tableau users that want to further push the community and help educate others. There are different areas for which you could nominate and be nominated, including Tableau Forums and Social Media ambassadors. A new category this year was the DataDev Ambassadors, including 11 members of the community around the world. Three of our colleagues entered this inaugural group (aka ‘The Eleven’). In this blog post, you will learn what a DataDev is, the journeys of our colleagues, and what they think about the programme. You might even learn why they are obsessed with dinosaurs.

Anna Prosvetova

How long have you been using Tableau?
I started using Tableau for my Data School application back in March 2019, I think it was some version of Tableau 10. I enjoyed learning how to use the software from YouTube videos and posts from the Tableau community before joining the Data School, and thought that LODs are the most complex thing in Tableau.

How did you end up learning about the Tableau APIs?
We briefly looked at Tableau’s REST API while in training at the Data School, but it all looked quite abstract with the use of Command-Line and cryptic commands. Nevertheless, I joined the Developer programme after this session because it offered a free instance of Tableau Online, and I wanted to use this space to safely experiment with and learn about Tableau Server and Tableau Online. As a part of the Developer programme, you also get invited to webinars and talks by Tableau’s developers and members of the community. I started watching them and learning about all the tools that are available to extend Tableau’s functionality. After a couple of events I was hooked! I’ve always been interested in automating manual tasks, and Tableau’s APIs seemed like a great way to do that. Then the DataDev Mini-challenges came along in April 2020, and I decided to take a plunge and start experimenting with Tableau’s developer tools.

What’s your favourite API?
I think at the moment the Metadata API is my favourite from the Tableau’s developer toolbox. It’s easy to start working with it thanks to the GraphiQL interface that is available for users directly from their Tableau Server or Tableau Online (provided that they have an active subscription to the Data Management Add-on). Tableau Server admins can use this API to understand how the data sources, workbooks, and individual dashboards on their server are connected and what would happen if one of the data sources gets updated or removed. Using this API, users can also explore relationships between fields from different data sources and how they are used in calculated fields. This data can be then used to create a company-wide data dictionary.

Do you have any advice for those who want to enter the world of the DataDev?
I cannot deny it: you do need to have some basic knowledge of at least one programming language to start using Tableau’s developer tools. Think about what is most interesting for you, and start from there. If you want to automate communication with Tableau Server and use REST API, or connect to a custom data source with Hyper API, then I would suggest looking into Python. If you are interested in building dashboard extensions or embedding Tableau dashboards into websites or third-party applications, then get familiar with JavaScript (and some HTML). There are numerous resources available for you to learn the basics of these programming languages online. Once you are familiar with the basics, start practising. Remember a situation when you thought: “I wish I could do that in Tableau!”, and explore if you can use Tableau’s developer tools to solve this situation. Design a small project for yourself and experiment with the selected tool. If you can’t think about a project, check out the DataDev Mini challenges as they come in the shape of small projects for users of different levels of experience.

What are your ideas for the future of the DataDev Programme?
I really enjoyed participating in the series of mini-challenges earlier this year, and I’d like to see more events like this in the future. I also think it would be great to have some entry-level events or educational videos where people can learn the basics of different programming languages, such as Python or JavaScript, by working with Tableau’s developer tools.

Laine Caruzca

How long have you been using Tableau?
I’ve been using Tableau for around 2 and half years. I first downloaded Tableau as part of an application to the Data School and immediately fell in love with how easy it was to use and see the data come to life. Since then, I have been using Tableau across a variety of different clients, upskilling teams and building dashboards. I left The Dataschool in October of this year and now I’m working full-time at PwC.

How did you end up learning about the Tableau APIs?
I was working on a project that required me to connect to Xero, which is an accounting software. Due to the nature of the API, there was no easy way to extract the data automatically and feed it into Tableau. Therefore I decided to embark on a journey of learning about Web Data Connectors and ended up spending a whole year learning about web applications using JavaScript. It was during this project that I discovered the Tableau Developer Programme and got connected with the Tableau DataDev team.

What’s your favourite API?
Considering the amount of time I have spent on building a WDC, I would say that the collection of API’s for a WDC are the ones I am most familiar with. However, working with the Metadata API has opened up ideas on the art of the possible in terms of deconstructing all the elements that make a Tableau dashboard and getting insight from that. It’s like looking under the hood of Tableau.

Do you have any advice for those who want to enter the world of the DataDev?
Reflect on how best you learn something new. For me, it is always to have some sort of application/project or an end goal. It gives me a sense of purpose for why I am doing something and when it comes to your 6th hour in the day debugging something, it gives you reason to keep going and not give up. Another thing is to be curious. The biggest advice I could give someone is to let your curiosity guide you in the things that you develop. That for me is one of the biggest motivators to learn something new and to explore capabilities and the art of the possible.

What are your ideas for the future of the DataDev Programme?
I love hackathons and the idea of having a really intensive period to get creative and build a PoC. I would love the DataDev Programme to have more events where you can get the creative juices flowing.

Andre de Vries

How long have you been using Tableau?
I started using Tableau in early 2015. Back then we were still on version 8 and I could have only dreamed of the new functionality that we have in the tool currently. Quite quickly after I discovered Tableau I joined The Information Lab to help others be successful with their data. For the first few years I mainly focussed on teaching and became a certified Tableau trainer. This was a lot of fun! Showing people the potential of visual analytics and how easy it is to pick up such a powerful tool was something I did during the day, but during downtime and in the evening I learned more about programming. This leads nicely into the next question.

How did you end up learning about the Tableau APIs?
The very first time I seriously encountered a Tableau API and considered learning more about it was when the Extensions API got moved to a public alpha version. This was also one of the first APIs that got a public testing phase.

What’s your favourite API?
I’m a big fan of the Embedding API aka the Tableau JavaScript API. It’s one of the oldest APIs in the Tableau Developer toolkit and it allows you to put your Tableau content anywhere. This can be in a website, blog post, CRM system or even in your own custom developed mobile application! There are so many opportunities here and it gives the Tableau platform another edge by being able to offer and monetise customer-facing embedded analytics products.

Do you have any advice for those who want to enter the world of the DataDev?
You have to ask yourself a few questions. Do you like extending Tableau’s possibilities? Do you like learning more about programming? Do you like challenges? If your answer to all those questions is yes, then you should get involved! Programming and learning about coding sounds very daunting and often I hear from people that they probably don’t have the right skill set or background for it. If I can let you in on a secret, I studied Political Science and had never written a line of code before I jumped into learning about it. The key thing that I forced myself to do is be consistent in my learning but also focus on one programming language. Often I see people making the mistake of trying to learn too many things at the same time. I would focus solely on one language.

What are your ideas for the future of the DataDev Programme?
For me the DataDev Programme is about learning and being creative. The programme could therefore act more of an enabler and a place where everyone can contribute and ask questions about Tableau’s APIs. I would really like to see more events in which community members share how they’ve built something and maybe even something like a DataDev Podcast could be entertaining!

Andre de Vries

London, UK

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