Tableau / Analytics

What Is Tableau Public? Your Data Visualization Starting Point

By Ausra Puniskyte

Tableau exists as a few similar (but subtly) different platform offerings – you may have heard the names Tableau Public, Tableau Cloud, and CRM Analytics. I will be focusing on Tableau Public and how this could benefit you. 

We all hear about the magical things that Tableau can do with analytics, but there is always the question: where do I start? Cost implications and resource accessibility may prohibit analysts from learning new skills, but Tableau Public provides functionality that is freely available. Let’s take a closer look, and if you’d like to learn more about the different “Tableaus” out there, you can also read Introduction to Tableau

Benefits of Tableau Public

Tableau Public provides a good learning experience for those starting out in analytics. You get reasonable access to the application, and in addition, Tableau has a helpful community. You can share your work, build hands-on experience, and increase your knowledge and skills.

There are several limiting factors to using Tableau Public which I will list later on, but let’s start with the benefits (which definitely outweigh the limitations). 

It’s Free!

First things first, Tableau Public is a free version of Tableau. By creating an online account you can have access to dashboard developing tools within just a few minutes. It will provide you with almost the same functionalities available on the paid version of Tableau. This means you are able to learn dashboard creations, functions, and visualizations in exactly the same way. 

Offline Access

You can also download the desktop version for free which allows you to work offline when you need to. However, you will need to publish your work to the online community as local saving is not available. 

Visual Capabilities

Data Analytics is the ‘hot’ thing right now. Learning about effective ways to get the right data insights is a beneficial capability to have, especially in a fast-paced environment like Salesforce – Tableau Public provides you with the tools you need.

You can find a lot of useful (and free!) video learning material here.

Learning Space

The key reason that Tableau Public exists is for its community. Whether you’re picking up Tableau to learn a new skill, you’re preparing for an interview, or you’re just having a bit of fun, Tableau Public is the place for you to start learning about visual analytics. 

There are many community projects you could participate in to enhance your analytics skills and get to know other users. My top favorites include: Viz of the Day, Back to Viz Basics, Makeover Monday, and the list continues.

Check out this workbook which educates users on how to visualize KPIs in different ways.

Your Online Presence

This is also a great place to start building your online presence. Any dashboard you create and publish will be shared online. It’s the perfect opportunity to share your own knowledge and capabilities with the whole community, while learning from others and reflecting your new skills in your dashboard developments. 

Take a look at trending Vizzes and browse through other user content to find some great Tableau Public user accounts.

Hire Me Button

Your Tableau Public account can also be used as a profile to promote your capabilities to potential employers. The “Hire Me” button will let other users contact you directly with career opportunities. For this reason, it’s important for your online profile to contain various types of dashboards that really show off your skills.

Check out the How to Build Tableau Resume article which explains how a Tableau Public Account can be used for job search. 

Things to Know Before You Start

Essentially, it’s free to access the application. Of course, with free access comes limitations to using the app – I want to highlight this so you understand whether it is right for you. The limitations here are the differences between a paid Tableau license and Tableau Public.

Data Source Access

There are dozens of various data sources which Tableau allows you to connect to directly, such as Salesforce, Microsoft SQL, AWS, etc. Tableau Public, however, is limited in this respect. It only allows access to local copies like spreadsheets, text files, or Tableau Data Extracts. 

Online Publishing Only

Tableau Public does not provide you with private Tableau Server access or the ability to save dashboards locally on your machine. It is purely an online presence and any completed dashboards will be published online to the wider Tableau community.

You are able to hide dashboards from your profile, although this is not completely private – users may still come across your work as the link is still searchable.

Security Concerns

Due to its nature, you should be aware of security considerations. You shouldn’t use any personal or sensitive data within Tableau Public, as this will be visible to all other users within the Tableau community. 

For this reason, Tableau Public use within a business should be limited. I highly recommend it for personal or academic use only, such as learning or sharing information that is publicly available. If you are concerned about your company data, you might want to consider purchasing one of Tableau’s products

No Automation

Dashboard creations are more like ‘one-off’ productions of your datasets when using Tableau Public. Unlike Tableau Server, dashboard data sources cannot be automatically refreshed, therefore the data will remain static. 

No Templates

CRM Analytics is great because it allows Salesforce integrated users to use dashboard templates such as calculating KPIs. This functionality will not be available to you, and all dashboards will need to be made from scratch – which, in my opinion, is much more fun! 

Data Limits

There is also a data limit within Tableau Public. Now these are quite generous for someone exploring Tableau, but if you have datasets larger than 10 million records per data source, this will be an issue. Also note that you will be limited to 10GB of content per account. 

What Do You Need?

You will need to create a personal account to access an online version of the application. That’s all! By creating an account you get access to Tableau and can begin your data analytics and visualization journey with Tableau Public. Remember that you can download the desktop version if you prefer working offline. 


Tableau Public is a free version of Tableau, a dashboard developing tool. It provides the same functionalities that are available on the paid version, allowing users to learn dashboard creation, functions, and visualizations. 

Tableau Public also has a helpful community where users can share their work to gain hands-on experience whilst increasing their own knowledge base. However, it’s important to remember that Tableau Public has some limitations, such as only allowing access to local data sources, being able to publish publicly only, and no data automation.

The Author

Ausra Puniskyte

Ausra is a data-driven analyst with extensive experience using Tableau and Alteryx to analyze and visualize data in the most impactful way.

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