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Helper III
Helper III

DAX vs. Tableau


recently began learning Tableau and got to admit it's intuitive use gotr me confused regarding DAX.

DAX is quite complex for understanding with its evaluation context involved.

What does it contribute to empower PBI that cannot be done in Tableau?

My question is specifically re DAX and not other PBI strengths such as Power Query.



Helper III
Helper III

Thank you all!

It's very helpful.

Just a small drill down - in term on filter and ro context - once you master the understaning of the concepts, you pretty much master DAX (roughly).

Where does it meet Tableau? Do these concepts exist in the same manner?

You cannot learn DAX for 5 minutes without hearing about it, and calculate in particular. Is it the same in Tableau or do they emphaise a different concept?

Hmm, I don't think I'll be of much help in that regard.


I only evaluated Tableau, before deciding on BI tool of choice for the company, and didn't delve deep into their function language.


One of the deciding factor was lack of ETL and modeling feature in Tableau for me. I routinely have to connect to multiple sources ranging from zipped file, text file, db, to API and wanted ETL that handled all these situations, without need for integration with other sofware. Though visualization tools in Tableau was much more appealing.

Solution Sage
Solution Sage

As pointed out Tableau wins when it comes to Visualization as it was built more around the principles outlined by Stephen Few and Edward Tufte and I hope Power BI will catch up, Microsoft is putting in a lot of effort and great things are always coming.

On the other hand, in terms of horse power through DAX, Power Query and integration with other Microsoft software, Power BI is clear winner and I doubt Tableau can catch up. 



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Super User IV
Super User IV

They are both formula languages and thus I'm not sure there are really any strengths/weaknesses to be had necessarily. Tableau's main strength is it's simplicity but it isn't nearly as extensive as DAX. Tableau has about 170 functions (that's generous as a lot of them are just variations). DAX has over 250 functions. 


Not sure about specifically what can be done in one versus that other but perhaps some of the functions like GENERATE and NATURALINNERJOIN, etc. 


You can create columns, measures and tables using DAX, I don't think you can create tables with Tableau formula language, might be wrong.


DAX can be used in Excel Power Pivot, Power BI Desktop and SQL Server tablular cubes. Tableau's language can be used with...Tableau. 


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I have a NEW book! 
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Over 120 DAX Recipes!

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For most day to day tasks I don't find Tableau any easier, it may be because I'm used to PBI/DAX but I often end up resorting to randomly trying different combinations when using level of detail or table calcs to achieve a desired outcome in Tableau without really knowing whats going on. 


Tableau also requires you to somehow get the data into the right format before you can present it (Alteryx $6k per person per year?) whereas as others have pointed out DAX enables you to do much more on the fly.


Tableau wins hands down in terms of visualisation capabilties though but thats a different thread.

Solution Sage
Solution Sage

DAX is not just used in PowerBI space, but used (based) in SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS).


DAX allows for CALCULATETABLE etc, to return virtual table, that can be filtered. Which Tableau lacks...


In short, DAX allows for more complex data manipulation and is more powerful than what Tableau offers.

Though it is quite a bit harder to learn.


But it really depends on your business need, which is best suited for you.



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