I left Tableau 2012 conference in San Diego (where Tableau 8 was announced) a while ago with enthusiasm which you can feel from this real-life picture of 11 excellent announcers:
Conference was attended by 2200+ people and 600+ Tableau Software employees (Tableau almost doubled the number of employees in a year) and it felt like a great effort toward IPO (see also article here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/tableau-software-plans-ipo-to-drive-sales-expansion.html ). See some video here: TCC12 Keynote . Tableau 8 introduce 130+ new features, 3 times more then Tableau 7 did. Almost half of these new features are in Tableau 8 Desktop and this post about those new Desktop features. New Tableau 8 Server features deserved a separate blog post which I will publish a little later after playing with Beta 1 and may be Beta 2.
A few days after conference the Tableau 8 Beta Program started with 2000+ participants. One of the most promising features is new rendering engine and I build special Tableau 7 visualization (and its port to Tableau 8) with 42000 datapoints: http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/Zips_0/Intro?:embed=y to compare the speed of rendering between versions 7 and 8:
Among new features are new (for Tableau) visualization types: Heatmap, “Packed” Bubble Chart and Word Cloud, and I build simple Tableau 8 Dashboard to test it (all 3 are visualizing the 3-dimensional set where 1 dimension used as list of items, 1 measure used for size and 2nd measure used for color of items):
List of new features includes improved Sets (comparing members vs. non-members, adding/removing members, combining Sets: all-in-both, shared-by-both, left-except-right, right-except-left), Custom SQL with parameters, Freeform Dashboards (I still prefer MDI UI where each Chart/View Sheet has own Child Window as oppose to Pane), ability to add multiple fields to Labels, optimized label placement, built-in statistical models for visual Forecasting, Visual Grouping based on your data selection, Redesigned Mark Card (for Color, Size, Label, Detail and Tooltip Shelves).
New Data features include data blending without mandatory linked field in a view and with ability to filter data in secondary data sources; refreshing server-based Data Extracts can be done from local data sources; Data Filters (in addition be either local or global) can be shared now among selected set of worksheets and dashboards. Refresh of Data Extract can be done using command prompt for Tableau Desktop, for example
Tableau 8 has (finally) API (C/C++, Python, Java) to directly create a Tableau Data Extract (TDE) file, see example here: http://ryrobes.com/python/building-tableau-data-extract-files-with-python-in-tableau-8-sample-usage/
Tableau 8 (both Desktop and Server) can then connect to this extract file natively! Tableau provides new native connection for Google Analytics and Saleforce.com. TDE files now much smaller (especially with text values) – up to 40% smaller compare with Tableau 7.
Tableau 8 has performance enhancements, such as the new ability to use hardware accelerators (of modern graphics cards), computing views within dashboard in parallel (in Tableau 7 it was consecutive computations) and new performance recorder allows to estimate and tune a workload of various activities and functions and optimize the behavior of workbook.
I still have a wishlist of features which are not implemented in Tableau and I hope some them will be implemented later: all Tableau processes are 32-bit (except 64-bit version of data engine for server running on 64-bit OS) and they are way overdue to be the 64-bit; many users demand MAC version of Tableau Desktop and Linux version of Tableau Server (Microsoft recently changed very unfavorably the way they charge users for each Client Access), I wish MDI UI for Dashboards where each view of each worksheet has own Window as oppose to own pane (Qlikview does it from the beginning of the time), I wish integration with R Library (Spotfire has it for years), scripting languages and IDE (preferably Visual Studio), I want Backgrounder Processes (mostly doing data extracts on server) will not consume core licenses etc…
Despite the great success of the conference, I found somebody in San Diego who did not pay attention to it (outside was 88F, sunny and beautiful):