My experience with Tableau Public (TP) may be colored by the fact that I am annoyed by its free-as-in-beer-for-some-people-and-not-at-all-free-as-in-speech status and the fact that you have to log in every step of the way. I dutifully created an account on my computer and downloaded the software, but when I tried to launch it, I got an error message:
Next I updated my OS, but not to Sierra, because my IT department doesn't yet support it, so still no go (and I'm not sure I can update still update to Yosemite or El Capitan; maybe I can, but in the heat of the moment I didn't know; forgive me for being a Mac Plebe!). Workshop leader Chris Alen Sula identified the problem as being a hardware, rather than a software issue (with my ca. 2013 MacBook Air), and therefore not something I could make compatible on the spot. (Though now that I understand the OS issue a little better, I'm not sure that's true)
Also, what is up with requiring Internet Explorer on a Windows machine?!? Do they really mean the browser? Because I feel like no one should be allowed to require IE anymore. If people want or have to use it, that's their business, but an open people or a free people. If I do decide that TP is a must-have, and I can't get my Mac software issues worked out, I can download it on my work PC and remote in, but...I might be too annoyed.
That annoyance extends to the output from TP. Once you manipulate your data (in a drag and drop wonderland), it's all stored on Tableau's server, and only downloadable as a pdf or png file. You've still got your dataset (typically a CSV file), which you can share with the world however you like, but you don't really have the individual sheets in a manipulable format. Dr. Sula shared that the current version of TP can be set to sync daily with an online spreadsheet (read: Google), which is exciting, but…
Workshop supporter Hannah Aizenman asked if what we were creating were similar to Excel pivot tables (okay, Excel isn't open source either and doesn't even pretend to be free), and another participant asked why someone would use TP over R. I'm wondering if I should forgo the joy and ease of TP's GUI interface and suck it up and go all in with Excel or learn R.