14 Replies Latest reply on Feb 12, 2020 12:15 AM by sander.binda

    Tableau Prep - Live Data

    Stephen Groff

      Hi Folks,


      I have a fairly simple question that doesn't seem so obvious to me when going from Tableau Prep into Tableau Desktop.  But that's only because I'm still new to Tableau.


      Are the outputs you create in Prep based on live data?  I do not want to use extracts.  The confusion here is by which the process is a little different... that what I've been doing....


      1.  Choose data source (which in my case is usually an Excel reference file and via a Oracle database connection).

           - The confusion is selecting my file (output) that Tableau Prep saved for me when I ran the flow.

                -  Do I just open the .tds file?  Is this a direct link to my data that will auto-refresh just as it would if I directly connected to my Oracle Database?


           1a.  If the .tds file is the one I choose and is a live data connection, does that mean each 'Output' I create via Tableau Prep will have to be individually added in Tableau Desktop?


           1b.  If the .tds file is not the one I choose, then could someone define the process as far as creating the Output/Running the Flow and inserting what you've created in Tableau Prep into Tableau Desktop?


      Thanks a million.

        • 1. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

          Tableau Prep outputs data into three formats.


          .tde (Tableau extract for versions below 10.5)

          .hyper (Tableau extract for versions above/equal to 10.5)

          .csv (comma separated value, a flat file format).



          You cannot have a "live-query" to your datasource running through Prep.


          1: The tde is a "dead" extract. Meaning it has no knowledge of the Prep flow that created it. It just contains an extract of the data outputted from prep.

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          • 2. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data
            Stephen Groff

            Publishing to (in my case) my company's Tableau Server allows me to connect directly to the data source in real-time... LIVE data.  Yes you can save as you've describe above, but you can publish to a server and with the right authentication, you can publish as live data.

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

              The scenario you describe is not possible with prep since


              A: You cannot publish a Prep flow, only the extract it creates

              B: Prep cannot create live connections - the tds file points to the .tde or hyper extract that is also created

              • 4. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data
                Stephen Groff

                Thanks for the reply..... So some things have changed over the last few weeks.....


                1.  I received access to publish on our company's Tableau Server... so creating a flow and publishing it to the server is now possible.


                The lead up to the problem....


                I connect to our live Oracle database through Flow.  Then add-in joins, create unions, clean-up data, etc.... then I create the Output and publish to our company's Tableau Server.


                The Problem:


                The data I publish isn't live (as you said, it apparently doesn't publish as a .tds file).... I assumed that because my Oracle data comes right out of the live database; when my data refreshed it would be with real-time data... However, it isn't real-time. (i.e. the Flow I published on 5.18 still only has data from that date, nothing new).


                I just cannot fathom why Tableau would put out a preparation software that doesn't account for LIVE updating.  I'm still green in the Tableau world... but even as a new user... why would any data analyst use Prep if it cannot (in it's fullest form) allow LIVE connections?  My time wasn't wasted... my static data did need to be cleaned up... but I feel like I wasted a lot of time using Tableau Prep to manipulate my data the exact way I needed it, only to be told...  I guess I just don't understand the specific details of why this would be so difficult to do from a software development perspective.


                Thanks MJ

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                • 5. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

                  What you need is Custom SQL in Tableau Desktop for your use case.

                  • 6. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data
                    Daniel Archuleta

                    Hi Stephen,


                    I understand your issue, and I also understand why you want a live connection in Prep rather than a Tableau Desktop Custom SQL. Desktop and Prep are two different products that do different things. A custom SQL in Tableau Desktop is not a solution to data prep processing needs.


                    Here is a link to another thread that I think could help you. I am not sure if it connects live or if it runs a refresh based on a schedule you set. I have not used this solution...yet. However, I expect to need something like this in the very near future.


                    Automate a Tableau Prep workflow using windows service


                    Regardless of what you try, will you please update your thread with your findings? Thanks.




                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

                      OK, let's discuss the proverbial elephant in the room. If I understand this correctly, it is currently impossible to publish live data to Server using Tableau Prep. With that being the case, the only recommendation made in this forum has been to use a custom SQL query in Desktop. Let's just say that my experience with using custom SQL queries has not made me a happy camper. They are almost always prone to snags, gotchas, errors, and generally bad data. The whole reason for using Tableau Prep in the first place is to veer as far away from custom SQL queries as much as possible. So why hasn't Tableau Prep made it possible to publish live data to an internal server? Maybe someone reading this will have an excellent answer, or maybe a better one than what I have seen thus far.

                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data
                        Stephen Groff

                        I posted this question 8 months ago... still waiting on that answer. 

                        1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • 9. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

                          Hi Philip


                          You will probably never be able to connect "Live" to Tableau Prep since it allows integration of multiple different data sources, the best effort Tableau could would be allowing users to "run flow on workbook opening" which would run the full flow from Tableau Prep and dump the data in a temporary Hyper-database and then connect to that. This is how connecting to Stored Procedures currently works in Tableau, rerunning the Stored Procedure with each user interaction.


                          It makes complete sense that you cannot live query Prep flows, since they are not data, they are flows. The data generated from flows can already be published to Tableau Server as extracts.


                          Regarding your experiences with Custom SQL, I use it often and have none of the issues you describe, if you are generating bad data with Custom SQL, you should probably focus on either the underlying data quality or your SQL capabilities since Custom SQL just allows you to query "through" a Custom SQL statement which is then treated by Tableau as a subselect.

                          • 10. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

                            What do you mean waiting for an answer?


                            You have your answer, the answer is "No not currently".


                            If you want to be able to connect live to a Prep Flow, post it to the Tableau Ideas Forum Ideas


                            If you want to be able to have your Prep Flow data refreshed on Tableau Server on a Schedule, that functionality is currently in beta under the name "Tableau Prep Conductor"


                            Coming Soon: New features in Tableau

                            • 11. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data
                              Mark Fraser

                              Ignore me - i'm replying to this thread as I want to see updates for moderation purposes...

                              Please remember to respect other and all members in the community.




                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

                                Yeah I know my wording was a bit harsh.


                                My bad.

                                • 13. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data
                                  Mark Fraser

                                  No worries, mortenbodaugaard.jrgensen, thanks for your message!

                                  And your contributions...! Much appreciated.

                                  • 14. Re: Tableau Prep - Live Data

                                    Greetings Mark,


                                    You could also tick the box: 'I also have this question' to keep getting updates in this thread. Or even give a post a like or a star rating.