Tableau’s recent release of Maps 8.2 brought a lot of changes to the existing map functionality. What were the changes and why do they matter?
The most noteworthy change in Maps 8.2 was the complete switch of how the maps are being provided. Originally, Tableau used Urban Mapping servers to host all their boundary, label and data layers, meaning that if Tableau wanted to make a change in any of these details, they would have to put in a ticket with Urban Mapping and wait for them to react. In 8.2, Tableau decided that they wanted to do this hosting internally, giving them more control over all these specifics in regards to the layers, and giving them the flexibility to make changes and improvements much more regularly. Powered off of OpenStreetMap, the “WikiPedia” of maps, Tableau Maps 8.2 brings much more detailed maps to the users by harnessing the 50 gigabytes of spatial data that they offer. Taking all of the hosting in-house, Tableau is able to provide more value to the users, able to respond more promptly to feedback on feature requests, and also control the speed and delivery of the mapping services, leveraging their own Mapping servers worldwide.
Maps 8.2 features many changes that help with bringing clarity in terms of plotting and understanding data. Teaming with Stamen Design studio, Tableau has made their maps with high-DPI optimized tiles, featuring 4 times as many pixels as normal tiles, as well as creating 3 distinct map styles: dark, light, and blue water so that data can be seen and understood much easier, due to the ability to contrast data points without background interference much more easily. While you can still opt to go with the “Tableau Classic” style, similar to the legacy style provided by Urban Mapping, the new and improved maps provide a higher quality, more detailed and more responsive package for providing clarity and meaning in data on a map visualization. With Tableau Maps 8.2, users can convey a meaningful, stunning and professional experience, allowing them more easily to sway the audience into the overall message of the data visualization.
Tableau’s remastered map powered off of OpenStreetMap data