1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply on Jan 30, 2017 12:02 PM by Paul Chaney

    Connecting Tableau to ACL

      I am trying to determine whether Tableau can reference or extract tables and queries in a software called ACL.

       

      Does anyone have experience having Tableau reference objects in ACL projects?

       

      Thanks!

        • 1. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
          Nathan Pickard

          I would also like to know that.  Right now I am using the export command in ACL but would prefer Tableau to be reference the .fil files in ACL...

          • 2. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
            Paul Chaney

            I just joined the Tableau community and saw this post from a few years ago.  Not sure if Andrew or Nathan are still in the community, but I figured someone may benefit from this reply.

             

            As an advanced ACL user for almost 20 years, I know a bit about this topic.  The .fil files are proprietary to ACL and not easy to pull data from outside of the ACL program.  In fact, if you lose the ACL table definitions that go with a .fil file (i.e., the backend data file), you cannot even recreate the supporting ACL table structure and view the data just from the .fil file...and that's within the ACL tool itself, much less using an external tool to access the data. So, the ACL table structures you get with the .ACL project file are essential to reading the .fil data.

             

            As an ACL consultant, many of my customers are asking me for help with systematically exporting data from ACL into a .csv or text file format that can be read into Tableau for dashboards or other viz reporting.  This is by far the most common way I see ACL table data being ported to Tableau.

             

            Hope this helped someone!

             

             

            Paul

            2 of 2 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
              Svetlana Utkina

              Hi Paul,

               

               

              Thanks for your reply. I'm also interested in the topic, especially considering the upcoming ACL Fall'16 release, which includes integration of ACL with Tableau. Do you think the new release will help to avoid exporting ACL data to csv or text and will help to connect Tableau directly to ACL?

               

               

              Many thanks

              Svetlana

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                Paul Chaney

                I sure hope so, Svetlana.  Given ACL's less-than-stellar history of new data analytics product functionality over the years, I'm cautiously optimistic we will be able to easily pass data to Tableau for viz and no longer need to prep data for tedious import/use in Tableau.  We'll soon find out!  I usually beta-test each new version, but I've been very busy and just haven't connected with the ACL team.  So, I have no idea (other than some speculation between myself and other long-time ACL users) how they'll do this.

                 

                From their recent e-mail, ACL stated the following bullet points about this new set of features:

                 

                • 15+ new data connectors that make it easy to bring data into ACL Analytics from databases, big data stores, and cloud applications
                • Two-way data integration with any Tableau-certified reporting/visualization tool you would like to connect to data in ACL Analytics

                 

                The second bullet mentions two-way integration.  When I first heard ACL was looking into integration with Tableau, I thought this meant a typical Tableau connector (like we would use for Excel, text files, etc.).  This would make sense, as ACL could just help Tableau map to the proprietary .fil file structure and bring in data like any otherh flat file connector.  However, the "two-way" mention gives me pause.  Would ACL have an option inside their tool to import data from a Tableau file (e.g., .tde, .twbx?).  I guess this could work, but it would be highly uncharacteristic of the ACL team to attempt something as technical as that without extremely obvious (and usually long-overdue) value.  So, I'm a bit confused about how this will work.  If they try to keep this new connectivity feature to only the Analytics Exchange world, that wouldn't surprise me...sadly.

                 

                Another curious thing for me is the mention of 15+ new data connectors.  If they have actually created this feature set natively in the ACL Analytics desktop product, that would be great.  I think it's more likely they're going to leverage this capability from another tool...maybe Tableau somehow?  ACL has always (since it's initial release in 1987) had relatively limited "data connectors", as seen through the same data definition wizard they've used for at least the past 20 years (same GUI and everything).  Note many of us have found creative ways to use the existing data connection capabilities ACL's desktop product has, so these few options can be amplified to do powerful things, but not without figuring ways to do so outside of the tool's advertised abilities.  Kudos to the ACL team for bringing back the EXECUTE command, which further gives us techies the ability to do more with the product via connections, etc.  If ACL has changed their product to make it easier to pull in data like Tableau does, I will need to be sitting down for that first demo, because it could mean ACL has taken a monumental leap forward into the 21st Century.  Hopefully, if that is the case, they'll fix some other things that are still lagging behind today's technology and user experience.

                 

                 

                Thanks for the question!

                Paul

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                • 5. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                  Michelle Eich

                  Any update on the ACL connector to Tableau?

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                    Paul Chaney

                    Yes, Michelle!  Great news...Tableau now has the ability to import ACL tables (all the tables in an ACL project) using a connector via ODBC.  I believe ACL v12 (the new one) is required for it to work.  I've played with it quite a bit already and, although it has some quirks, it exponentially increases the ability to quickly do ad hoc analysis of ACL table data in Tableau.  I'm working to find a way to script processes end-to-end, from import of data into ACL through reporting via Tableau.

                     

                    In addition to this connection, ACL's v12 lets us connect with other BI sources and can now use Python and R scripts, as well as native SQL inside of ACL.  There are soooo many new possibilities with v12.  Feel free to reach out to me at Paul.Chaney@koinoits.com if you want to chat further about this.  I'm excited, if you couldn't tell.  LOL

                    • 7. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                      Michelle Eich

                      That's great news. Does it work within any version of Tableau or just

                      Tableau 10.0?  I very well maybe reaching out once I have the chance to

                      dig in and see how it works...

                       

                      Thanks!

                       

                      Michelle

                       

                       

                       

                      Michelle Eich

                      Lead Internal Audit Data Analyst

                      NiSource | 801 E. 86th Avenue | Merrillville, IN 46410

                      219-647-4396 office | meich@nisource.com

                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                        Paul Chaney

                        I've only tested it with Tableau 10, but it's possible the ACL connector might work with earlier versions, since it basically uses a generic ODBC connector from Tableau to reach ACL's v12 instance.  Great question!  Now, you've got me curious.  : )  If I have time today, I'll check on this further.

                         

                         

                        Paul

                        • 9. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                          Paul Chaney

                          By the way, I've tested this successfully with Tableau 9.3.  The functionality of the new ACL Connector, regardless of Tableau version, is still a bit hard to follow intuitively.  Let me know if you have any questions with getting your ACL data into Tableau, and I'll help as best I can!

                           

                           

                          --

                          Paul Chaney

                          KOINO IT Solutions, LLC

                          www.koinoits.com

                          817.680.7303

                          • 10. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                            Michelle Eich

                            Thanks for letting me know.

                             

                            Can you point me to any documentation on how this feature works? Either

                            from ACL or Tableau's end?

                            Thanks!

                             

                            Michelle Eich

                            Lead Internal Audit Data Analyst

                            NiSource | 801 E. 86th Avenue | Merrillville, IN 46410

                            219-647-4396 office | meich@nisource.com

                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                              Paul Chaney

                              Certainly, Michelle!  ACL has help docs that include instructions for this new Connector (ACL Connector for Analytics) at https://enablement.acl.com/helpdocs/analytics/12/user-guide/en-us/Default.htm#reporting/using_a_third_party_reporting_ap…  You can also go to https://enablement.acl.com and type "using a third" to find the instructions.  Please let me know if this doesn't work for you, and I'll get you the info another way.

                               

                              Note that Tableau probably wouldn't have specific instructions on the ACL Connector, as I believe ACL pretty much just used the Tableau API and/or other ODBC connection string functionality to enable the link between ACL table data and the Tableau app.  The 16 ACL Connnector(s) (i.e., drivers) they just created can be used with other reporting/BI tools (although why would you ever want to use anything except Tableau, right?) via ODBC connection.  So, Tableau probably has no support or documentation of the drivers created by ACL for use with Tableau (the same connector used for Tableau is used for any ODBC connection to source data)...all that should be on ACL's end, I believe...or people like me who help others with this kind of stuff.  : )

                               

                               

                              --

                              Paul Chaney

                              KOINO IT Solutions, LLC

                              www.koinoits.com

                              817.680.7303

                              • 12. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                                Juracy Americo

                                Hi guys, I have the ODBC ACL 12  on my machine and Tableau 10.0.2, but I ´m having some trouble with it:

                                 

                                I can connect to a acl project as you can see below.

                                10-27-2016 11-22-09 AM.png

                                 

                                But I´m not able to see the tables or data, so I can´t analyze it.

                                Any help?Appreciate it.

                                 

                                10-27-2016 11-23-34 AM.png

                                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                • 13. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                                  Michelle Eich

                                  Hi Juracy,

                                   

                                  I wish I could help but I haven't yet attempted to connect Tableau to ACL.

                                  I do hope to explore that in future though.  You can always submit a

                                  ticket with Tableau should no one be able to answer your question in the

                                  forums.

                                   

                                  Good luck! I hope you get it to work!

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                  Michelle Eich

                                  Lead Internal Audit Data Analyst

                                  NiSource | 801 E. 86th Avenue | Merrillville, IN 46410

                                  219-647-4396 office | meich@nisource.com

                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                  • 14. Re: Connecting Tableau to ACL
                                    John Bower

                                    Hi Juracy,

                                     

                                    Did you ever have luck in resolving this?  I'm having the exact same issue and can't seem to find anything online to help in figuring it out.

                                     

                                    Thanks,

                                    John

                                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
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