Which product is better – Tableau or Power BI? Like most things in life, the answer to this question is “it depends”. Both are popular products in the BI and visualization community and have their advantages and disadvantages.
Tableau was launched in 2003 while Power BI was started in 2015. Despite a 12-year head start for Tableau, Power BI is more widely used. Gartner ranks Power BI highly in its magic quadrant for analytics and business intelligence platforms.
Let’s take a look at where both products shine and where they fall short.
Power BI Vs Tableau
Where Power BI wins
Power BI has better data modeling capabilities than Tableau. DAX, while tricky to learn initially, is a powerful language and helps you prep and model data better. If you need to wrangle a lot of data and have complex modeling needs, Power BI will be more useful to you than Tableau.
Power BI works with the ubiquitous Microsoft suite of products such as Office 365, MS SQL, SSAS/SSRS, Excel, SharePoint, and others.
Power BI wins on cost. Power BI licenses are considerably cheaper than Tableau. Price is one of the reasons Power BI dominates the business intelligence and visualization market.
Power BI has better ETL capabilities than Tableau. You can prep and clean the data easily with Power BI. To do ETL effectively with Tableau, you will need Tableau Prep.
Power BI has more custom visuals (third-party extensions) compared to Tableau. Power BI has open APIs and encourages partners to make custom visualizations.
You can easily embed Power BI reports in websites. Embedding Tableau reports can be challenging in certain cases.
Where Tableau Wins
Tableau offers a better user experience than Power BI. Analysts who use Tableau love it.
Tableau has a great community where you can ask questions. Tableau community is more engaged and passionate than the Power BI community. Tableau has huge conventions, presentations, and forums that dwarf Power BI’s.
Tableau visualizations are prettier and easier to build. That’s not surprising given that Tableau was started as a visualization tool.
Tableau’s full functionality is available in its on-premises version. Power BI’s on-premises version has many restrictions.
Volume of data
Tableau can handle huge amounts of data easily. Power BI is not suitable if you are dealing with huge datasets.
Power BI and Tableau have their pros and cons. If your main focus is visualization, Tableau works better. If you need data modeling capabilities in addition to visualization and are cost-conscious, Power BI is a good choice.