New Data Studio feature: New blending menu
The ultimate guide for the new blending possibilities. By Alexander Junke
On 17 February 2022 Google published a new blending menu in Data Studio. It has a lot of improvements and we will take a look into them. I also want to quickly discuss, why we still do not recommend blending all of your data inside Data Studio.
Everybody who wants/has to join their different data sources inside Data Studio and needs a more detailed view of the new possibilities should read this post.
What is blending data?
Everybody who knows SQL and JOINS, blending data in Data Studio is exactly this. So with blending, you can bring data located in different data sources together. You have to define conditions when the data matches and the result of the process is one new data source, you can use like all the other data sources.
Features in the new menu
To discover the new blending menu, we want to connect the following three data sources:
Trips: One row is one trip with a starting and ending station and a lot of trips information
Station Info: One row is one station and has general information about it
Regions: One row is one region with the name of the region
The first new feature and maybe also the most important one is the selection of the JOIN type. Before that, we have to select which dimensions are part of the join conditions
Station Info: station_id
Then we also have to add them as keys for the selected LEFT JOIN:
Then we also want to add the region name to the table and to do that, we have to join the region data to the table. Then you will see the other important new feature in the blending menu.
Then we have already a good overview of the current implementation:
The other new important change is the possibility to use different JOIN keys. Before the change, you have to use the same keys in all JOINs. Now you can select in every JOIN which field you want to set as key.
It would be nice if you could see which key is being used in which JOIN (currently just visible in the joining menu).
The rest is still the same as before. So when the join works as intended, you can select all the needed fields.
So I would name 3 new features:
Select different JOIN operations
Use different JOIN keys in different JOIN operations
A new menu to manage the JOINs
Why you should not use blending in Data Studio
We always have some discussions about using blending data in Data Studio. To say it at the beginning, we found cases when it makes sense to use blending inside your reports (Especially self-joins are a powerful opportunity to level up your visualization).
But you should try at first to join the data in your database.
You have much more possibilities to connect your data with SQL
You have Version Control to see the changes from everybody
Furthermore, especially if you have a lot of people working with the data, it is better to connect the data once in the database and then every dashboard creator uses the same data source.
Otherwise, all creators blend data on their own, do mistakes and the data is not correct and uniform anymore.
The new blending menu has some good improvements, especially the new handling and appearance of the menu is more intuitive. Additionally, the most important new feature is the availability of all JOIN types in my mind.
But it has still some restrictions, you can just circumvent when you connect your data inside your database.
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