Blogs / Tableau / What’s your preferred data visualization tool? (Tableau vs. Power BI)

What’s your preferred data visualization tool? (Tableau vs. Power BI)

The fascinating world of data visualization is evolving fast with new BI tools hitting the market every day. To have a special place in the data visualization field, a tool must be easy to use with powerful capabilities like machine learning functionality along with comfortable licensing options. Both Microsoft Power BI and Tableau have their secret sauce, which is why many organizations often compare these two tools when looking for the perfect data visualization tool. Before comparing features, let’s have an overview of the tools.

Tableau and Power BI

Tableau and Power BI are among the market-leading self-service business intelligence tools used to provide insights with an easy-to-use drag and drop functionality. Tableau can provide the most intuitive user experience with powerful visualizations and analytics functions for everyone. Reports and data sources created using Tableau desktop can be published to the Tableau Server for enterprise-level collaboration.

Power BI helps build visualizations with three main elements: Power BI Desktop for building reports, Power BI service to publish reports for enterprise-level collaboration, and Power BI mobile apps to view reports. These complement one another in the common Power BI workflow.

We are considering the following features for comparison between Tableau 2021.1 and Power BI October 2021 Update (2.98.683.0).

  1. Dynamic tooltip capabilities using parameters
  2. Web object
  3. Custom visuals
  4. Bookmark usage
  5. Machine learning capabilities

1. Dynamic tooltip capabilities using parameters


Tableau tooltip offers more flexibility by reflecting dynamic user selection in the tooltip when a parameter is added and included in the tooltip functionality.

Figure 1- Dynamic Tooltip in Tableau

Power BI

In Power BI dynamic tooltip can either be downloaded from the app store or needs to be achieved using DAX. There is no inbuilt feature to achieve a dynamic tooltip. DAX can also be used to achieve the dynamic title and dynamic X-Axis in Power BI.

What’s your preferred data visualization tool?
Figure 2-Dynamic Tooltip in Power BI App store

2. Web object


Tableau provides an inbuilt web page object to embed and display the contents of the URL in the dashboard.

Figure 3-Tableau Web Object

Power BI

In Power BI, URLs can be used to fetch tabular formatted data or can just be embedded but the contents will not be displayed in the dashboard.

Figure 4-Power BI Web data

3. Custom Visuals


Custom visuals can be created by adding basic calculations and dual-axis functionality according to the required custom visual. Pictures and emojis can also be used as a part of custom visuals.

Figure 5-Tableau custom visual

Power BI

In Power BI custom visuals can be downloaded from the app store. App store consists of many third-party custom visuals which are either free or paid versions. Few visuals in the app store are PowerBI certified. Visuals that meet the Microsoft Power BI team code requirements are further tested to verify that they don’t access external services or resources. Certified visuals also are tested to make sure that they follow security guidelines and coding patterns. Certified visuals can also be exported to PowerPoint, can also be displayed in emails when a user subscribes to report pages.

Figure 6-Power BI custom visual

4. Bookmark


Bookmark is used to save a single worksheet by creating a snapshot that can be accessed from any workbook using the bookmarks menu. It adds the worksheet to your workbook in the state it was in when it was bookmarked. It will not update automatically. Bookmark enables the reusability of a worksheet.

Figure 7-Bookmark creation in Tableau

Power BI

The currently configured view of a report page is captured using bookmark including filtering and the state of visuals, which can later be revisited by selecting a saved bookmark.

Figure 8-Bookmark creation in Power BI

5. Machine learning capabilities


Has inbuilt statistical functions, regression, clustering options, and forecasting options which can be fine-tuned based on the requirement. Connection should be created between Tableau and Python/R servers to enable Tableau to evaluate python code in calculated fields. Machine learning end-to-end process can be done using this functionality.

Figure 9-TabPy calculated field

Power BI

Power BI provides integration with Azure Machine Learning services and text analytics for users to use machine learning models without coding knowledge. Python and R scripts can also be used from Power BI.

Figure 10-All the possible functionalities to implement ML capabilities
Figure 11-ML capability implementation using no-code Azure Cognitive services
What’s your preferred data visualization tool?
Figure 12-Python script used to implement ML capability

Based on the compared features, we can infer that Tableau has an advantage in terms of giving enhanced UI experience with dynamic tooltip and web page object functionality. It also gives multiple choices to customize and create custom visuals whereas, in Power BI, developers will be able to use third-party visuals. Bookmark gives similar functionality in both the tools with Tableau having added advantage of worksheet reusability.

When it comes to Machine learning capabilities Power BI has an upper hand with the availability of Azure Machine Learning services along with coding analytics extension for building and using the required machine learning model. Thus, both Tableau and Power BI have their advantages and the decision to choose between the two can only be made based on the users’ requirements.

We hope this blog helped you understand and compare certain features between Tableau and Power BI.

Interested in implementing BI requirements with Tableau or Power BI? To learn more about Visual BI’s Tableau, Power BI Consulting, and End User Training programs, contact us here.

Check out our other blogs on Tableau here and blogs on Power BI here.

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