Learn Tableau to Boost Your Scouting and Strategy!

Heard about Tableau but don’t know much about it?
Looking to upgrade your data visualization and competition strategy?
Want a worthwhile offseason project while stuck at home?

Introducing Tableau for FIRST Robotics:
an 11 video crash course presented by Team 2834, the Bionic Black Hawks!


This course gives a basic overview of using Tableau to visualize the scouting data you have already collected. Unlike other Tableau tutorials out there, this one is specific to FRC and more videos will be added upon request.

If you have any video requests, questions, or comments, please feel free to post to this thread or leave a comment on any of the videos and I will do my best to reply within 24 hours.

Enjoy your beautiful data!


I tried playing around with Tableau last year but it always seemed more complicated than useful. I’m looking forward to watching this video series and actually learning how to use it.

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Tableau was always something that I heard about but seemed to scary and complicated to learn. However, I’m already half way through this series and it’s a lot easier than it looks (or the series just makes it seem that way). I’d highly recommend it especially since the whole series is ~1 hour of watch time.


So glad to hear it! There is a lot more to Tableau but these videos give you all you need to start using it on your team.

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I didn’t know about tableau, so this course was very educational. I’m curious about a few things though:

Are there many FRC teams using it, and if so, is there a way to share workbooks/worksheets/dashboards/stories that aren’t bound to any data source so teams can collaborate on making useful graphs and apply their own data? It would be cool if there was a repository of graphs that teams could work on for each game that could be used by any team for scouting.

I’m also curious about their API and possibly making a web dashboard to collect scouting data, send that as data sources to tableau, and display the tableau visualizations in the web page. Has anyone ever played around with their API?

Edit: What kind of setup do you use during competitions without good internet access? How does a team of say 6 scouts gather data? Do you use tableau desktop and individually add to the data source on one machine? Do you have access to APIs with tableau desktop, or do you need to use tableau server for that?

While it is not as widespread as Google Sheets or Excel, Tableau is still widely used in the FIRST community. Data sharing with Tableau is difficult, but possible. In a workbook, the graphs you make are not tied to the data itself, but they are tied to the pill name (i.e. the names of the columns in your data). This type of chart sharing would only work if all teams used the same excel worksheet template and just repopulated the cells with their own data. Tableau workbooks are saved as .twb files on Tableau Desktop (files cannot be saved locally on Tableau Public), so they can be shared in a cloud such as Google Drive and downloaded. All teams have to do is re-import the data source. The pills will not change.

I personally am not familiar with how the API works. As for our team, we do not rely on internet access at all. Especially at FiM events, WiFi is disabled and hotspot connections are spotty at best. Instead, all of our files are saved locally on our computers. When we get new scouting data, someone in the stands exports it onto multiple flash drives and sends runners to deliver them to those who need the new data. This system may seem rather inefficient, but during competition the whole data pull-delivery process is quick. Unfortunately, it is all we can do without WiFi.

On 2834, we have 6 scouts watching matches at any given time entering data on a custom made android app on tablets. This data is pulled to a master tablet via Bluetooth and automatically parsed into one csv file.

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You need either Tableau Server, Tableau Online, or Tableau Public to serve up visualizations for embedding in web applications. As long as you don’t mind hosting your visualizations on Tableau Public, it would be an option.

It’s really quite easy to embed a Tableau visualization in a web page. Tableau offers some example code showing how it would be done from Tableau Public. I haven’t used this for FRC, but I’ve done it professionally with Tableau Server.

We collect scouting data using Google Forms which scouts interact with using their phones. We connect to the Google Sheet behind the form using either Tableau Desktop (with the virtual KoP license) or Tableau Public. We have possibly been lucky, but we haven’t had problems at our regional events or even Houston champs getting cellular data to work both for scouting entry and using a phone or cellular data card tethered to a laptop for occasional (every few matches) updates of the data from Google Sheets to Tableau.

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From what I can tell without internet access using the API is not possible. That’s a shame, because many teams (including my own) attend events without reliable internet connections. But it’s not a big deal since we can just have a system like the OP’s team and view the visualizations on a dashboard inside tableau desktop. I do like the idea of creating a custom app that generates data you can import into tableau for scouting, however.

Just watched the whole series, and we’ll probably try to use Tableau for data visualization in 2021. I was wondering if there was an easy way to put images in tooltips. For example, if I had a column in my pit scouting spreadsheet with a link to an image of a robot, is there some easy way I can show that image so when we’re talking about pick lists, we know for certain which robots are which?

Yes. You can use a method called “viz in tooltip”. See the below links:



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I took the time to go through the videos. I had heard of Tableau before, but never used it. I can see some benefits compared to an Excel based approach from the examples mentioned. Since we did not play this year :frowning: I will findsome data from last year and play around with that.
One thing I always wanted to do is to track a team from District #1, District #2 and DCMP to see teams improving, and teams that are predictable. Time to download the public version for now. Thanks for taking the time to make these videos available to other teams.

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