Joining DataSquad Team with Tableau

22 February 2019
By Alex Cardenas

This term I moved from working the front desk to working with Paula’s DataSquad. This work started very quickly with my first assignment being to learn Tableau and present this software to a Political Science class for their data analysis.

Having never used Tableau before (nor ever hearing about it), I did have my worries, but I already had an idea on how to use the software for practice.  I had downloaded all of my messages from Facebook for all of my time there. I selected the messages between my girlfriend and me since the day we first added each other on Facebook.  Here you can see that trend. Though a simple graph, it took me a long time to figure out how to get the data ready to create a graph like this.

My first problem was transforming the timecode in ms (e.g. Timestamp Ms: 1546505635705.00).  I had originally thought this to be a “time-since data download” column but soon found out that it is a standard Unix Epoch time code (i.e. time elapsed since 00:00:00 Thursday, 1 January 1970).  Once I figured that out (special thanks to u/mlittletn on r/Tableau on

After practicing more on the basics of Tableau, I started to work more specifically on the data that was needed for the Political Science class.  This data focused on National Material Capabilities of different nations across the globe, throughout time. This data had a lot (for me) of peculiar columns (which I later found out were standard in the world of Data Analysis) but nonetheless had to learn about and work with.  An example of one of these standards (read: peculiarities) was that null data was represented with a “-9” as opposed with “null.”  It took some research into it, but I was able to create a calculated field that transformed this column into “null” values.

This calculated field does the following: if the data is “-9,” replace it with a “null” value, otherwise, leave the value as it is.  There were other fields of data that also needed some manual work but I won’t go into those here.

Finally, I made some pretty (subjective) visualizations of this data.  For my first time working with maps in Tableau, I will show that one here.  This graph shows the military personnel for countries in the year 2012. The main problem I had with Tableau Maps was that the database that matched the Country Codes did not have codes for all the countries in our dataset.