Comparing two data visualization tools: Tableau Public vs.

Tableau Public and are two popular data visualization tools that I have been testing and learning recently. When it comes to producing interactive online charts, each tool has its pros and cons:

  • Tableau is ideal for  complex visualizations with customized features such as filters and search; is good for quick, basic interactive data visualization.
  • Tableau is a program that needs to be downloaded and installed on a home PC (no mac version). is a web-based service, a user can access and work on his or her visualization project anytime, anywhere, on any computer.
  • has a simple (web) interface and is easy to work with. Tableau, in comparison, is a seemingly daunting software program, with many menu commands and buttons, and demands a steep learning curve.

I created two visualizations of the growth trend of six major ethnic groups in New Jersey, using Tableau and, respectively. And here’s some observations and thoughts.

Different requirements of data format

One thing worth noting that while can work with a “normal” data set, Tableau requires the data set be formatted following specific guidelines. Take a look of the two versions of the same data set: the left one is formatted for Tableau Public, the one on the right is for Can you see the difference?







The (complex) Tableau interface vs. the (simple) infogram interface

Here are screen shots of interfaces of the two tools: First one is Tableau and second one is Infogram:

The (more interactive) Tableau visualization vs. the (basic) infogram visualization

Lastly, the two actual visualizations: first one is Tableau visualization; second one is infogram visualization.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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