Automatically Build Views with Ask Data

Ask Data introduces an entirely new way to interact with your data, letting you type a question and instantly get a response right in Tableau. Answers come in the form of automatic data visualizations, with no need to manually drag-and-drop fields or understand the nuances of your data’s structure.

Ask Data lets you ask sophisticated questions naturally, with support for key analytical concepts like time series and spatial analysis, and an understanding of conversational phrases like “last year”, “earliest”, and “most popular”.

Ask Data to quickly build a viz

  1. In Tableau Server or Tableau Online, navigate to a published data source, and then click Ask Data at left. (Ask Data isn't available for data sources embedded in workbooks.)

  2. In the text box reading “Ask about fields in this data source”, enter terms from the data source fields at left.

    Hover over each field to learn more about the data it contains. Unlike the data fields seen in standard Tableau views, these fields can't be dragged to the canvas.

  3. As you type, Ask Data automatically completes your entry using likely combinations of data fields and analytical functions. To automatically create a viz, either press Enter, or choose from suggested entries below the text box.

    Just like that, you've created a compelling visualization of your data!

Rephrase your question using a conversational style

After Ask Data initially builds a viz, you can quickly revise it by typing conversational phrases in the text box reading “Adjust your question or clear all to start over”.

In the text box, do any of the following:

  • Change the viz type with phrasing like “as a bar chart”.
  • Add functions with phrasing like “by country” or “in December”. See Supported Analytical Functions for Ask Data for the complete list.
  • Replace fields by typing “replace [existing field name] with [new field name]”
  • Remove fields by typing “remove [field name]”
  • Clear the viz by typing “reset” or “clear”.

Rephrase your question using the interface

You can also rephrase questions by clicking options and data fields in the user interface.

Change the viz type

If the default viz doesn't fully reveal your data, click the menu at upper right, and choose from these supported viz types:

  • Bar Chart
  • Gantt Bar
  • Heat Map
  • Histogram
  • Line Chart
  • Map
  • Pie Chart
  • Scatter
  • Stacked Bar Chart
  • Text Table
  • Treemap

Note: To automatically create certain viz types, Ask Data sometimes adds fields like “Number of Records” to your entries.

Customize fields and their data

Ask Data gives you several ways to fine-tune how field values are displayed.

  • To switch the fields used for the vertical and horizontal axes, click the Swap Axes button above the text box.
  • To change a field or its aggregation type (for example, from sum to average), click the field name in the text box.

  • If a field is used as a filter, click the name to specify values or wildcard parameters.

  • To adjust a numeric range, click words like “high”, “between”, or “cheap” in the text box.

  • To delete a field, hover over it and click the X.

Adjust date filters

To adjust a date filter, click words like “in”, “last”, “previous”, or “between”. Then click one of the following:

  • Specific Dates to enter a specific time period or date value
  • Relative Dates to show a date range relative to the present day
  • Range of Dates to enter specific start and end points

Specific Dates offers some unique options in the Date Detail menu:

  • Time Period options show a single continuous date range
  • Date Value options show ranges that can repeat in multiple time periods. For example, to see combined sales performance for Q1 across multiple years, under Date Value, you would choose Quarters.

Compare differences over time

Ask Data lets you compare time periods with phrases like “year over year”, “quarter over quarter”, or similar comparisons by month, week, or day. The results appear as difference or percent difference table calculations in workbooks you save from Ask Data.

In the text box, click a difference calculation to choose other fields, aggregation methods, and time periods.

Apply simple calculations

Ask Data supports simple calculations between two measures, which you can apply using these symbols:

+ sums the measures

- produces the difference between them

* multiplies

/ divides

In workbooks you save from Ask Data, these calculations don't become calculated fields but instead ad hoc calculations on the Columns, Rows, or Marks shelves. For more information, see Ad-Hoc Calculations.

Reanalyze a data source

Owners of data sources can configure them to be reanalyzed by Ask Data on an automatic, daily schedule, or only upon user request.

If analysis requires user request, and you know a data source has changed recently, click the circled “i” in the Data pane at left, and then click Reindex Data Source.

Tips for success

As you structure questions for Ask Data, apply these tips to get better results.

  • Use keywords — For example, instead of “I want to see all the countries that these airports are in”, try “by airport and country”.

  • Use exact wording for field names and values — For example, if your data source includes Airport Code, Airport Name, and Airport Region fields, specify those by name.

  • See a ranked list — Ask Data maps terms like “best” and “worst” to Top 1 and Bottom 1, respectively. If you want to see broader rankings, use “high” and “low” instead. For example, enter “houses with low sale prices”.

  • Surround unusually long values with quotation marks — To analyze long field values that contain line returns, tabs, more than two words, or more than 50 characters, surround them with quotation marks. To improve performance, Ask Data doesn't index fields of that length.

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