Jovaine's Journey: #MAD Week 2
After completing week one, I was excited for week two’s lesson for the Think Like an Analyst Program. During the first hour of class, we presented our take-home assignment dashboard from week one. I was eager to present mine as I had posted my dashboard on LinkedIn a few days before and received some positive responses. In presenting, we received feedback from Chantilly and the other instructors on what they liked and what we could improve.
Once presentations wrapped up, I then thought “let me open Tableau to get started with today’s lesson”. To my surprise Chantilly told us to download DB Browser for SQLite. I was confused as to what relation this had with Tableau. That is when Chantilly explained to us that "being a good data analyst required us to know more than just how to visualize data. We must be able to retrieve, combine and clean data prior to visualizing it." In order to do this we were going to use Structured Query Language (SQL) and this became the focus of the class.
After Chantilly explained the fundamentals about relational databases, we started to practice. We began with the most basic commands and then gradually added more commands to our code. For each command Chantilly provided an overview (what to use it for), an example of how to use it, a walk through and then an exercise for us to complete within 5 minutes. I had never coded using SQL, in fact I didn’t even know its purpose. I heard the term before but never paid any attention to the subject. As the class progressed, I realized that I was really engaged and interested in learning how to code in SQL. Prior to this, I always had reservations about coding. I felt that I would never be a coder because I didn’t fit the ‘coding’ persona that popular culture had generated. #MAD opened my eyes and made me realize that coding in SQL was simply knowing the commands and writing them in a logical manner to be executed. Coding wasn’t just hitting some keys and saying “I’m in”, its thinking about a problem, its end solution, and essentially giving the computer the set of instructions on how to solve the problem.
We spent the entire day working with SQL and executed a host of commands such as SELECT, FROM, WHERE, LIMIT, ORDER BY, AS, AND, OR. By the end we were able to use these commands to retrieve and combine data in order to successfully complete the take-home assignment. For our assignment we were provided a briefing document and 2018 bike data for Hubway. The data that we were provided was broken into 13 tables – 12 tables (one for each month) and 1 table with the Station information. We had to use SQL to retrieve, union and join the data before we could analyze/ visualize it using Tableau.
After retrieving the data and bringing it into Tableau, there were some elements I wanted to incorporate in my dashboard that I wasn’t familiar with. The Tableau Help Forum became my best friend as I constantly searched topics in order to learn how to complete certain tasks in Tableau. In the end, it worked out as I created a dashboard that I was proud of. In summary, week 2 was amazing! I learned how to use SQL to retrieve and combine data – a skillset that I didn’t have prior to our session!