Tableau Public: Pros and Cons (Straight Talk Review)

DashboardFox Straight Talk Review: Tableau Public

While talking to potential customers, we sometimes get asked about Tableau and their free offering, Tableau Public. We do our best to be fair and transparent when talking about competitors and Tableau is one of those tools that is excellent, especially in the areas of data visualization.

One evaluation consideration is always the price. We covered the cost of Tableau Server in this article, but in this article, we’re going to take a look at Tableau’s free offering, Tableau Public.

What is Tableau Public?

Tableau Public is a powerful data visualization tool used in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry to simplify data into a more understandable format. The software also blends in other features like real-time data analytics and cloud support capabilities that facilitate data collaboration.

Tableau Public is free and most of the features of the paid version of Tabluea are available.

But there’s got to be a catch right? We’ll go into that in this article.

The Pros of Tableau Public

Here are the main perks of using Tableau Public as a BI solution:

It’s free

You can’t beat free and Tableau Public is free. Now there are limitations that will be listed down in the cons section, but for all purposes, we can’t say that free is anything but a pro for Tableau Public.

One caveat we always caution when it comes to free software however, if the product is free, that means you are the product.

In this case, we don’t think that Tableau is making any ill-advised use of your data, but they are providing free access for a few reasons that we can understand.

  • Allows them to analyze user behavior so they can improve their product
  • Provides them a set of users to upsell and market to
  • Provides them a lot of free marketing and advertisement as people share visualizations created in Tableau Public.

Impressive visualization capabilities

Compared to most traditional BI solutions, Tableau Public offers unparalleled data visualization with superior graphics. With its high performance, the software can convert unstructured information into detailed logical data that is fully functional and interactive.

Ease of use

The tool is designed in an intuitive manner that promotes a user-friendly interface enabling users to utilize the app’s functionality. Using a drag-and-drop feature, users can easily perform complex data visualization without in-depth coding knowledge. Additionally, the software is easy to implement and upgrade at a low cost, making it easier to enjoy extra features that come with upgraded versions.


Tableau understands the importance of mobility, especially with users looking to keep an eye on their data while on the go. As such, the data visualization tool offers a mobile app that’s available on iOS and Android platforms. When compared to other mobile BI, Tableau has the highest downloads by active users, which serve as an indication of the app’s superior functionality.

Thriving community forum

There’s a steady increase of Tableau users and partners joining the community to share their expertise and skills on how to effectively use the software. This has created a strong consultant base where business users can add to their knowledge of data reporting and more. Furthermore, the forum has a lot of online guides and training programs aimed at helping new users.

The Cons of Tableau Public

Even with all its bells and whistles, Tableau Public has its fair share of downsides outlined below:

Limited data source connections

Unlike the paid versions of Tabluea, one of the biggest limitations of Tableau Public is the types of data sources you can use. Tableau Public connects to Excel, Google Sheets, various text files, and Web Data connectors. No direct access to databases or any of the other data sources provided by Tableau is allowed in Tableau Public.

Security concerns

Many miss why Tableau Public is called “public” and made available free. All reports that you create and publish in Tableau Public are publically available with no security or protection. This is the biggest limitation for businesses using Tableau Public for their internal purposes or to analyze their customer or business data. There is also no user-level security in Tableau Public.

Some users do take extreme measures to not display their reports on their profile, not give it a description, and give it a non-sensical name to make it less discoverable in search.

No local saving

Another main limitation of Tableau Public is that unlike the paid Tableau Desktop tool, with Tableau Public you cannot save your workbook locally. It only allows you to save and publish data into the cloud (and publically available). The main limitation here is that you cannot save it and perhaps send it to someone else with a paid version of Tableau to work on.

No automation

With Tableau Public there is no scheduling of reports and also the refresh of data from Google Sheets is only once a day. To do anything more than that requires some extension scripting and programming skills.

Data limits

Tableau Public used to have more stringent limitations on data size, but now they offer 10 million records per data source and 10GB of content per account. While the limit doesn’t exist in the paid versions, the limits are generous. We’re listing them as a con just because for the person who needs more, they would be a serious show stopper.

Limited support

This goes without saying but you’re using their free product, you’re limited to community forums to get help. Tableau has a ton of training resources and community resources where you can find help, but contacting the support organization of Tableau will not be one of those resources available.

Bottom Line: Pros and Cons of Tableau Public

It’s no doubt that Tableau offers powerful data visualization capabilities and high performance that’s necessary for processing complex data.

The bottom line, Tableau Public is designed for scientists and academics who are looking to share data and collaborate publically. It’s not something that a small to mid-size business can hack to use Tableau for free.

How Can DashboardFox Help?

If you are looking for an affordable and easy to use data visualization tool, DashboardFox could be what you are looking for.

Some of the benefits of DashboardFox that may align with your needs:

Affordable. Unlike many of the more costly BI options that require a monthly or annual subscription, with DashboardFox you pay once and keep access to the software for life.

Friendly Licensing Model. DashboardFox is sold by the concurrent user session license. With just 1 concurrent session user, you can create secure logins for everyone on your team, the only limitation is that 1 person can log in at the same time (you also get 1 additional admin user who can log in, so effectively it’s 2).

Public View Licensing. With every concurrent user session license, you also get 5 public view report licenses. These are licenses that can be applied to any of your reports and then made available to an unlimited number of guest viewers, viewers who don’t require a login to see the report.

Real-time database connection. DashboardFox connects to any major database and allows you to create dashboards and reports that refresh in real-time. Each time a report is run, schedule, or exported, DashboardFox will do a live query to the database of choice. You can also import data from Excel or CSV files and there are no limits on refreshes, re-upload new data, or replace all existing data as often as you like.

Self Hosted or Hosted. By default, DashboardFox is a self-hosted solution, meaning you install DashboardFox on your server, on your private network. For many businesses, this is an ideal solution that keeps all their database data local, behind their firewall, and without the need to expose it in a 3rd party vendor cloud.

For those customers who want nothing to do with a server or managing self-hosted software, we also offer concierge hosting. We will deploy your DashboardFox license on our hosted server and take care of all the server maintenance, backups, as well as keeping your DashboardFox software up to date with the latest updates. You still own your DashboardFox license and all your data, migrate to your server at any time.

Let’s Discuss Your Requirements

The best way to know if DashboardFox is a good fit for you is to talk to our team. Schedule a live demo or call for a technical discussion, not a high-pressured sales call. We can learn what your needs are, show you how DashboardFox can achieve those, and discuss the next steps of a trial or getting started with implementation.

Schedule a live meeting today.

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