2 Replies Latest reply on Aug 16, 2013 8:28 AM by Damian Wilbur

    Advanced Filtering and Search = Regular Expression Support Needed

    Damian Wilbur

      Have you exhausted the utility of basic text and wildcard searches in Tableau (or for that matter Excel) logic?  Have you ever wanted to go deeper with your searches or enforce data quality constraints on a crucial field in Tableau while using a universally recognized approach?  Look no further than the power afforded by regular expressions.  This important facility is not yet supported in Tableau and I would like to help change that.


      Unfortunately, many non-software developers are uninitiated to the world of regular expressions.  This is too bad.  To learn more about the incredible power of regex, please take the time to navigate to http://www.regular-expressions.info .

      Within a few examples you will understand the incredible power afforded by this facility.


      Do the examples look like Greek to you?  Over time this goes away through the use of debugging utilities (some free, some available at the site above).


      If advanced filtering, calculations, and amazing search capabilities are in any way compelling to you, I'd like to encourage all interested parties to vote on adding regex to an upcoming version of Tableau.  The feature request link follows--




      Thank you for your time-- and happy searching!


      Best Regards,

      Damian Wilbur

      Sr. Data Scientist


        • 1. Re: Advanced Filtering and Search = Regular Expression Support Needed
          Toby Erkson

          I've seen many software developers who aren't familiar with regular expressions!  The functionality definitely comes in handy and I even made my own [simple] VBA wrapper for when I do Microsoft Excel work.  I prefer using built-in functions when possible to keep maintenance easier for others but I'm not afraid to use regex when I need quick and accurate results.

          I make good use of the above mentioned web site when I test my regular expressions, it's a good site!


          It's my understanding that the limiting factor is the database.  Regex can't be translated into typical functions (INSTR(), FIND(), MID(), STR(), etc.) so either it's supported at the db level or it's not.

          • 2. Re: Advanced Filtering and Search = Regular Expression Support Needed
            Damian Wilbur



            Indeed you are correct that certain database implementations are limited in their support for regular expression matching.


            This however doesn't change the fact that a secondary regex processing layer can be implemented in Tableau VizQL (or in some ancillary way nearby) to support regex after the data is already present in the data cache.


            There are 2 stages (at least from where I see it). 1 at the database layer, 1 within Tableau itself.


            Thanks for adding this perspective to the discussion. It is an important distinction to be able to make.