Introduction and Free Student Version

To perform the Data Undestanding Phase (a.k.a. exploratory data analysis [EDA]), you need some level of skill with basic statistics and data visualization. In this book, I assume you have at least a beginner-level understanding of statistics--although I'll give you a reminder of the most relevant details. You might have some experience with data visualization in Microsoft Excel or similar, but you should also learn some higher-end tools. Therefore, this chapter will help you get started with Tableau; a modern, popular visualization tool.

Tableau Desktop has many more advanced features for data visualization as well as limited support (relative to other tools) for basic statistics. It also has its own scripting language to build your own metrics. The image at the top of this page is a screenshot of a dashboard created in Tableau (click the image link to see the live version).

Tableau Prep is another popular Tableau product that you might appreciate after learning Tableau Desktop. It offers advanced data cleaning and integration features. In this book, we will use Azure ML Studio to create a machine learning pipeline for data preparation. So we will skip Tableau Prep for brevity.

Let's start by getting you a free 1-year student subscription to Tableau Desktop.

Download a free version of Tableau Desktop

Tableau is free for all students from academic institutions around the world, as long as they are using it as part of their course or for a personal project. In order to request a free one-year license, you will need to prove that you are enrolled in a program within an academic institution.  Do not go to the website and download the free version with a 14-day license. Instead, follow the steps below to get a one-year license.

  1. Go to the following URL:

  2. Select the [Get Tableau for Free] link.

  3. Fill out and submit the form. Select your university. Use a ".edu" email address.

  4. Tableau will send you an email so that you can use the license

By the way, Microsoft offers a strong competitor to Tableau: Power BI. Power BI has some cool capabilities as well and is gaining popularity. However, for our purposes, either of these tools will suffice. There are many other popular cloud-based alternatives that do not require any installation like Domo and Sisense.