Tableau has speeded up its release cycles from one release per year to three releases 2015. Tableau also announced that there would be four releases in 2016. Tableau is going to spend more R&D $ this year than all the last 13 years of the company combined.  I love the pace of innovation.


Tableau 9.3 is released on 3/24.  I was able to demo some 9.3 new features at Tableau server upgrade and new feature demo webinar on the day when 9.3 was released, which is cool.  I am excited for Tableau 9.3 release, which features powerful upgrades to Self-Service Analytics environment. These include Workbook Revision History, union Excel or text-based data sources, passing parameters in initial SQL, Snowflake data connector, Map enhancements, Content Analytics, etc.


Workbook Revision History

This is the feature that many Tableau fans have been waiting for long time. In the past, publishers had to manage their own workbook versioning, which is a difficult task for many publishers. When changes did not work out and had to rollback to previous version, sometime publishers had challenges to remember what was the right version before. Unfortunately Tableau server team was helpless. Now 9.3 server keeps published workbook revision history so that publishers can go back to any of the their previous version if changes did not work out. This is huge!

Union & more Data Prep Features

Data prep is the area where most analysts spend a lot of their time unfortunately. Tableau continues enhancing data prep features so analysts can spend their valuable time on analysis and insights vs. copy & paste the data. 9.2 released feature of sub-table detection, data grid editing, data pan searching, etc. 9.3 added union feature that combines data that have been split across multiple files or tables into a single Tableau data source. Union works for Excel or text-based data sources only. I am sure that Tableau will make union work for database tables as well.  You can also do more data grid editing now with 9.3: preview data extract or Web Data Connector, creating group or bin, etc.

Parameters in Initial SQL for Row-Level Security

This is huge feature for customers who are looking for better row-level security solution.  Initial SQL is a set of commands that can run when you open the workbook, refresh an extract, sign in to Tableau Server, or publish to Tableau Server. Initial SQL can be used to set up temporary tables or a custom data environment during the sessions. Initial SQL is not new but was missing a critical feature - you could not dynamically pass parameters like username. Tableau 9.3 is able to pass parameters (TableauServerUser, etc) to some database. When TableauServerUser as parameter is passed to database for the duration of that user session, you can leverage database’s user security mapping (if you have implemented it) so database will render user specific data only to achieve the row-level security.  9.3 parameter in initial SQL supports Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase ASE, Redshift, and Greenplum only. Click here for details. For Teradata, you can use query band to pass parameters to achieve row-level security.

Project Leader Content Management

I have a blog about how to use Tableau site. I know that many Tableau customers avoid creating a new site unless they have to.  How to make sure that site admins not becoming a bottleneck when you scale out Tableau but your deployment has only one or very few sites?  If you struggle with this, you will love 9.3 new features that allow project leaders to change workbook owners, run refresh schedule and move contents that are tasks that can be done by site/server admin only in the past.  This new feature together with 9.2’s project permission locking feature really empowers project leaders.

Server Management

9.3 added bunch of server management features. Like low disk-space alerts; ProtgreSQL improvement allows failing over from one repository to another much more quickly w/o server restarting; The REST API is underpinned by a completely new platform with significant performance and usability improvements for admins; Postgres connectivity monitoring allows server admin check the underlying PostgreSQL database for corruption with a new tabadmin command.

Publishing Workflow

Publishing data sources or workbooks become easier and faster in 9.3: Tableau Desktop remembers your Tableau Online or Tableau Server connection and signs you in to the last server you used. It is easier to publish, keep your data fresh, and stay connected with the new Publish Data Source flow.

Better Map

Map is enhanced with postal codes for 39 European countries, districts in India, and US demographic data layers for 2016. Postal codes for UK, France, Germany, and the US are also updated. Mapbox supports new Mapbox GL as well in additional to 9.2’s Mapbox Classic.

Progressive Dashboard Load

It is cool that Tableau has progressive dashboard load feature now, which means you can start analyzing your data sooner w/o having to wait for the entire dashboard to load.