8.2 Preview: Story Points

By Ellie Fields May 20, 2014
At Tableau we’re obsessed with data. Connecting to data, analyzing data, and communicating with data. Tableau 8.2 breaks new ground in communicating with data with the introduction of Story Points.

Story Points is a way to build a narrative from data. People tend to understand and remember concepts through stories. And you can tell a story with data, just as you can tell a story with text or with film. Story Points gives anyone the tools to create a narrative with data. And of course, there’s no programming required.

Let’s start by looking at an example.

Below is a story based on data collected by Christian McDonald, a data journalist at the Austin-American Statesman. I’ve always liked the work he did here. The problem was he was forced to put a lot of thoughts into a single dashboard:

I took the concept and reworked it as a story, using Story Points in Tableau 8.2.

Story Points gives the author the ability to present a narrative. As part of that narrative, the author can highlight certain insights and provide additional context, as with the three schools called out above. The narrative structure also gives the author a chance to break the story into pieces that build on each other so the reader can consume them more easily.

Interactivity remains in the story: for example, you can choose another school’s results to explore using the quick filter on the top right of the 3rd Story Point. This lets you build a narrative and explore new threads at the same time. And Story Points update live as the underlying viz or data updates. Now that beats cutting-and-pasting images into PowerPoint!

The Story Points concept and execution was led by Robert Kosara, a Research Scientist at Tableau. You can check out some of his work at eagereyes, a blog he writes on visual communication.

Why should you spend the time to create stories with data? Because stories can communicate key insights. They can present context as well as information. And they can help people understand the key points in the evolution of an insight.

You may have noticed that Tableau Public now supports Story Points. It’s true: while the feature isn’t officially released yet, members of the Tableau 8.2 beta can now publish stories to Tableau Public. For example, here’s one done by Tableau rock star Matt Francis on sunspots:

Here's another example, this one a remake from a viz on football player transfers that made Mac Bryla in Australia mildly famous. Here it is as a data story:

Tableau 8.2 will be available soon. And when it is, you can start to tell the stories in your data.

Comments

Submitted by Marc P. on

Story Points are very useful. I can envision using this capability to keep the participants in a meeting focused on the topic at hand. Looking forward to putting this structure in use ....

Submitted by James E. on

I'm playing with this in the beta. Very cool! Are we going to be able to change the layout at all? Make the description boxes smaller. Have basic text in them, with more text available on mouseover like a tooltip pop up?

Submitted by Ellie F. on

Glad you like it! We've heard feedback during the beta that people would like to change layout and format the points more. It won't be possible in 8.2, but we're adding it to the backlog of possible features in the future.

Submitted by Jason Baumgartner (not verified) on

This looks amazing! I would love to be a part of the beta process. I've been waiting since late last year to be able to utilize this on the OSX platform. Do you have an ETA on the 8.2 launch?

Submitted by Ellie F. on

We're in late stages of beta now, so keep an eye on your inbox in the next couple of months for news about it! You can sign up to be notified here: http://www.tableausoftware.com/mac

Submitted by Gustavo K. on

Awesome!

This is definitely an awesome feature that greatly adds to Tableau capabilities. I have experimented with it and found it to be a fantastic way to tell the story using Tableau.

When in presentation mode, in order for the audience not to skip to the last page, my suggestion would be to provide the option of hiding the story point boxes and only display the back and forward buttons instead. When doing that, the caption of the current story point would become the title of the active page.

Submitted by Garret (not verified) on

Is there a way to have it run as a slide show? Would be great for displaying at a tradeshow, lobby, or operational room.

Submitted by Sidharth D. on

The Visualization on Football player transfer is one of the best ones I have come across. Jaw dropping insights and splendid thoughts behind this feature and kudos to you. Wanted to know how to get Tableau 8.2 beta ? Do I have to request to Tableau or is there any other criteria. I would love any helpful inputs on this..

Cheers

Submitted by Amanda Pype (not verified) on

Hi Marc! Have you had a chance to use the new Story Points feature yet? If so, we'd love to talk to you here in Tableau User Research. Send me an email at apype@tableausoftware.com if you're interested!

Submitted by Karl Hansen (not verified) on

Is there a way to put an image along side the Story title or navigation arrows for branding purposes? This can be done in the worksheet or dashboard but would like an image to seem more like part of the header.

Submitted by Ellie F. on

Karl, that isn't possible yet. We're looking at enhancements now and that's the kind of thing under consideration.

Submitted by aditya v. on

I am using quick filters in the story mode however when I hide the 'All' option in the dashboard it does not get removed from the Story even though I remove that dashboard and put it back again. Is this a bug or just the feature of Story which cannot accommodate that option. Would appreciate a positive response. :)

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