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Tableau VP of Growth Dave Story.
Tableau VP of Growth Dave Story shows off the company’s new Vizable app (GeekWire Photo).

For the first time ever, Tableau is rolling out a standalone mobile app.

The Seattle-based data visualization company today debuted Vizable, an iOS app that takes advantage of Tableau’s core technology to help people see and understand data with an iPad.

The free app, which was unveiled on Tuesday at Tableau’s annual conference in Las Vegas, utilizes a handful of patented animations and hand gestures like pinching, swiping, and dragging to make the process of analyzing data on a tablet more efficient.

“There are 1.5 million apps in the App Store and none to let you see and understand data,” Dave Story, Tableau VP of Growth, told us at the company’s headquarters earlier this month. “That’s the core situation.”

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Story arrived at Tableau in January 2014 after spending nearly two years as CTO of Lucasfilm, where he managed technology for one of the world’s top movie producers. He immediately began working on a mobile strategy for Tableau, which had yet to roll out standalone software for smartphones or tablets in its 13 years of existence.

“We have this amazing opportunity that Tableau has pioneered with its desktop, server, and cloud products to help the world see and understand data,” Story said. “I thought that with Tableau not having tapped into mobile really, really deeply yet, we could advance that into a mobile domain, ultimately reaching everybody literally where they sit.”

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Story and his small mobile team at Tableau started with a situation that defines Tableau as a company: A user has data and questions, but it’s too hard to answer them.

That was the genesis for Vizable, which automatically pulls numbers from CSV and Excel files to create charts, graphs, tables, and more that can be shared easily. The app also utilizes unique animations and what Story calls “teaching gestures” that help users move, sort, and understand their data.

“We spent a ton of energy around our animations,” noted Story.

Here’s a video of Story showing how those animations and hand gestures work:

After working on the app for nearly two years, Story said realized that “it is incredibly difficult to do.”

“You would be insane to put the resources we are putting into it if you didn’t believe in our mission,” said Story, who also spent time leading technology teams at Adobe and Move Inc. “We are in a unique position of being a successful company who believes in our mission because we see the facts of how people adopt and how this situation of a spreadsheet and a table of data is universal.”

The target market for Vizable ranges from a teacher analyzing student test data to a restaurant owner looking at sales information from the past week.

“We started with a food truck, so the very nature of our business is mobile,” Roz Edison, owner of Seattle-based Marination, said in a statement. “Since we’ve started using Vizable, if someone asks me how Marination is doing this week, I can pull out my iPad, start swiping and dragging my cash register data, and boom — it’s that easy.”

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For now, the app is free — just like Tableau Public, the company’s data visualization software for desktop — and only available on iOS. Story noted a few potential future revenue models, like charging people to share Vizable files within private groups or for advanced features.

“But right now, we are after pushing the limits on innovation and broadening the reach of our mission,” Story said.

Story added also that the plan is to make Vizable available on other platforms and for smartphones. Here’s another video that details Vizable’s functionality:

It’s been a busy year for Tableau, which announced a huge lease for a new office building in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood earlier this year with room for as many as 1,300 employees and inked a lease for more space in Kirkland. It also made its first acquisition ever in August, swooping up Infoactive, a 3-year-old startup based out of Montreal that turns data into infographics.

Tableau reported $149.9 million in revenue for the most recent quarter, beating Wall Street’s expectations with a 65 percent increase over the same period last year as the company added 3,000 new customers. Tableau’s stock is up about 20 percent over the past year.

The company currently has 1,200 employees in the Seattle area, spread across six buildings in Fremont and one in Kirkland.

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