Data Visualization

A Comparison between Tableau & Power BI

Over the past years, we have had several trainees at Algorhythm. This is a good opportunity for the students to get to know us better. Ferre Van Hoof shares his experience and findings about the internship in the article below.

I started an Internship project and the purpose of this project was to get to know Tableau & Power BI and eventually compare them to each other. The dataset I used for this project was the Maven Roasters dataset from the online Tableau datasets. Most of the comparisons are from my own experience with these BI tools. They can be different for other people.


In terms of user-friendliness, Tableau is not particularly strong. I have tried working with Tableau during my internship, but I had a hard time understanding it. I believe it is essential to take a course before starting with Tableau to fully comprehend everything. Once the basic knowledge (loading the data & creating relations, creating simple sheets and dashboards & a little knowledge of calculated fields) is there, things start to improve, and the layout of the application is not too complicated. However, for a novice Tableau user, it can sometimes be challenging. In Tableau, sheets and dashboards are created in separate tabs.

This can be useful because it allows focusing on one sheet, but when creating an extensive report with multiple dashboards, it can become difficult to find the correct sheet.

Power BI, on the other hand, is better in this regard. Microsoft is known for making programs simple to use. The layout is highly visual with many images. Making it immediately clearer.

Everything is well-divided into different tabs, each serving a specific purpose. The Report view is for visualization only, the Data view is for viewing and studying the data, and the Model view is for creating the model or ERD. In the Report view, everything is presented on one page, which personally makes it clearer because it allows for immediate linking between other visualizations.


The functionalities are not necessarily better in one tool than in the other. Power BI offers more choices in terms of basic visualizations and the ability to add or modify columns. These options are somewhat limited in Tableau, but Tableau’s scripting language is much easier to understand compared to Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) queries. Working with multiple parameters and filters also works better in Tableau. Let’s take the Top/Bottom 5 visualization as an example. I encountered some difficulties in Tableau, but I managed to achieve a good result.

In Power BI, this visualization can be challenging because the dataset used contains NULL values. These NULL values are automatically filtered out in Tableau, but Power BI does not do the same, this makes it so that there are NULL values shown as the bottom few. This doesn’t help because a NULL value can not be shown, the visualization would be empty. However, Power BI has a better way to calculate the top or bottom 5 through a filter. This works well, but the problem arises when we want to switch between top and bottom, which is not possible with this solution. To switch between the two using a parameter, we would need to write a script in order to accomplish the functionality for the visualization. This works but still has some issues. When we need the bottom 5, the NULL values are not filtered out. When we want to see the top 5, we do get a line chart, but we may notice that there are, for example, more than 5 employees in it. This is because Power BI does not take the top 5 over the entire time period but includes everyone who has been in the top at a certain interval. This is much more complicated compared to Tableau. So, when comparing all the functionalities, it depends on what the end user needs on the dashboard. Power BI provides all the functionalities for creating a simple dashboard with occasional complexities. However, if complex features are required, I would still choose Tableau.

Comparison by general functionalities


To compare all the strengths and weaknesses of these tools side by side, it is difficult to make a choice. It will still depend on what the end user needs on the dashboard to determine which one is better. If the customer wants a simple yet clear dashboard with a nice layout, Power BI is clearly the winner. However, if the customer wants to see more complex visualizations with very specific guidelines, and it doesn’t matter how it looks as long as it is clear, I would choose Tableau.

For anyone wanting a more in depth and professional comparison, you can check out this article: