1 2 Previous Next 26 Replies Latest reply on May 12, 2014 7:26 AM by Toby Erkson

    Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...

    Shawn Wallwork

      In Desktop I created a workbook that includes:

       

      1. Connection to a MS SQL Server View
      2. Connection to an Excel worksheet
      3. Connection to a second Excel worksheet

       

      I extracted the SQL server connection. Then created worksheets and a dashboard. Next I did the following:

       

      1. Extracted both Excel connections
      2. Published both Extract to Tableau Server, setting a Full Extract Refresh at once a month
      3. Replaced Data Source for the Excel extracts, with the Published Extracts


      Everything is working so far. Then I tried to Publish the Extract of the MS SQL connection, I get this warning:

       

      Warning.jpg

       

      It's a good warning, because it's right. When I went ahead and published the extract and then did a Replace Data Source, it broke the workbook.

       

      QUESTIONS:

       

      1. Is there anyway to 'fix' the workbook without having to start over again?
      2. So we should always extract and publish our data sources before creating vizzes, right?
      3. What am I missing here?

       

      Thanks,

       

      --Shawn

        • 1. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
          Jonathan Drummey

          Hi Shawn,

           

          AFAIK, Tableau Data Server doesn't support having blended calculations in a published data source (that's the warning). To answer your questions:

           

          1) Can you reconnect to the original SQL Server data source? If you can't, you could potentially do a little XML editing to get it back.

           

          2) I don't know that there's an "Always", what would work best for you depends on your data volumes, throughput, load, goals, etc. Tableau Data Server data sources have advantages and disadvantages. Matt Lutton seems to have done more with them than anyone I know on the forums, so could probably chime in. Advantages to Data Server include:

          • being able to have a single pass-through login to the data source
          • being able to share a data source without having tons of local extracts & connections
          • including Tableau's metadata in the published data source


          Some disadvantages are:

          • Having to be a lot more clear about what changes to your metadata (calculated fields, data types, etc.) are kept local to a workbook vs. in the published data source.
          • Potential idiosyncracies between some function results between data server extracts & live connections vs. local extracts & live connections. I found enough issues early on in testing this that I still don't fully trust Data Server data sources and have limited my use of them.
          • Potential performance issues. For example, I helped someone who had two SQL Server-based extracts that were both published as data sources and a blend between them took several minutes, whereas keeping those extracts locally or publishing them with the workbook took <5 seconds.


          The first disadvantage goes with using data in multiple places. The last two I think are more issues caused by Data Server still being a relatively new addition to Tableau Server.


          For me, the only real advantage to using Data Server is to create a shared data source for a data set that's important enough to put the effort into for other users, otherwise I don't use it and instead use one of the following two methods:


          - workbook file is kept in .twb format in My Tableau Repository

          - extracts live on a file server that both Tableau Desktop & Server have access to

          - both Server & Desktop can update the extracts

          - both Server & Desktop always get the latest extract available

           

          Or:

           

          - after publishing, workbook always lives on Server

          - Server updates extracts

          - have download workbook as .twbx to Desktop and update extract locally, then republish to Server

           

          3) I haven't seen any solid documentation on advantages/disadvantages, how to avoid the odd little bits like where you can set up an extract that never gets updated, what works best for different volumes, etc. so I don't think you're missing anything, you're working with incomplete information.

           

          Hope this helps!

           

          Jonathan

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          • 2. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
            Matt Lutton

            My experiences with published data sources have been limited to non-data blending scenarios, so I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the issue you are experiencing.  I would second everything Jonathan has said, and the only bits I can add are:

             

            1) Server specs will have an impact -- before we upgraded our "test" server environment, I saw huge difference in performance when connected to published data sources versus local extracts (this makes sense, no surprises--but I was fairly new to Tableau at the time, and didn't realize this was such an issue at first).

             

            2) (For anyone new to this discussion)--touching each sheet before publishing a data source and replacing the original will prevent quick filter settings from being lost in the workbook.  As a general rule, I now make sure I touch every sheet in a workbook before publishing a data source to avoid potential issues related to this.

             

            I have just run into too many "what the...?" moments to trust utilizing published data sources completely for our work (and I would love to see more documentation on the topic, how to avoid problems, how to utilize them for various purposes/end goals, etc.).  However, I REALLY hope we'll see some vast improvements to Data Server in upcoming releases.  I'm just doing far too much repetitive work, re-using the same data/extracts over and over in multiple workbooks, etc. and I know I am not alone!  If we can get to a point where published data sources behave like their non-published counterparts, and the replace data source functionality works as expected, I believe implementing a single  "standard" Tableau Server site for various end-users/clients will be much simpler.

             

            Interworks seems to be developing some tools for Tableau, some of which are related to Enterprise deployments of Tableau.  I'm just not sure how technically skilled one has to be to utilize those tools.  I'm hoping that more tools for the "average business user" are in development, as I really struggle with these APIs, SDKs, etc....

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            • 3. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
              Toby Erkson

              Matt, I second your last sentence!  It amazes me why some software companies insist on making things more difficult than they need to be.

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              • 4. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                Shawn Wallwork

                Thanks guys. So here's my thinking on this now, please confirm.

                 

                In this Q&A about how "Include External Files" works:

                 

                Question on “Include External Files” option

                 

                I think there is some confusion about an "update" and an extract "refresh". When a workbook that includes extracts is published to a Server with a scheduled refresh, and Include External Files is checked, I believe the extracts will go back and read the original Excel or Server files on the local (or shared drive) and update the extract. This really has to be the way this works.

                 

                What Tracy was talking about was that once the workbook is published to the Server, clicking the Refresh or hitting F5 won't force the workbook to refresh the data extract; it only forces the view to "update" from the extracts on the Server. If the Server ran one of it's scheduled updates recently, then your view will be updated with the new data; if not, then the data will remain the same.

                 

                So the answer to Rishad Khalid's question:

                 

                Case 1:  When I select the “Include External Files” option while publishing, does this mean all the source files, images are loaded to server and Tableau refers to that loaded version of the files? This means the files on the file share are not accessed anymore?

                 

                Is yes and no. No the files on the file share is NOT used to create the views; those are created using the extracts on Server. But the files on the file share ARE still used (accessed) to update the extracts. So depending on how often you set your extracts to update, will determine how "fresh" your view is.

                 

                Right guys?

                 

                Thanks,

                 

                --Shawn

                 

                PS: I think when it comes to images, you'll just have to republish whenever they change.

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                • 5. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                  Jonathan Drummey
                  I think there is some confusion about an "update" and an extract "refresh". When a workbook that includes extracts is published to a Server with a scheduled refresh, and Include External Files is checked, I believe the extracts will go back and read the original Excel or Server files on the local (or shared drive) and update the extract. This really has to be the way this works.

                   

                  That's been my experience.

                   

                  For the second part, I'm not clear on what the exact situation is, so can't give an exact answer. Here are the conditions I've identified and where I still have questions:

                   

                  .twb

                       - live connection to the data source

                            - include external files: makes viz static

                            - don't include: keeps viz live, Tableau Server has to have access to files

                       - data has been extracted from live connection

                            - include external files: Tableau Server can refresh viz from original copy

                            - don't include: Tableau Server has to have access to the extract, I'm not sure whether it can refresh or not.

                       - data source is a direct connection to an extract

                            - include external files: makes viz static

                            - don't include: Tableau Server has to have access to the extract, I'm not sure whether it can refresh or not

                       - data source is Tableau saved data source

                            - include external files: makes viz static

                            - don't include: not sure

                   

                  .twbx

                       - live or extract doesn't matter, I think, the data is published with the view and is static. I could be wrong on this, it's been awhile since I tested it.

                   

                  Jonathan

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                  • 6. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                    Shawn Wallwork

                    Thanks Jonathan. If I've read your post correctly here is what you've said in spreadsheet form:

                    Connections.png

                     

                    It also points out why it is so difficult to talk about this topic (so many possibilities). Let me know if I got anything wrong (misunderstood your post). Is this the consensus of opinion on how Publishing to server works? Let us know if you have a different understanding. Especially you Russell Christopher (the writer of Server Exams)!

                     

                    --Shawn

                     

                    Edit: To make it easier to read, I'm attaching the Excel spreadsheet.

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                    • 7. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                      Shawn Wallwork

                      Russell Christopher if you're in a giving mood today, sure could use help on this. Thanks,

                       

                      --Shawn

                      • 8. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                        Russell Christopher

                        Sure, what I see above looks pretty much correct! I can't quite parse the problem, though...

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                        • 9. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                          Shawn Wallwork

                          Thanks Russell, the confirmation was what I was mostly looking for. The 'problem' is I'm not seeing a way of publishing a workbook to the Server that includes logos, images, etc. that can be updated, other than by republishing. As soon as we check the Include External Files option, we render the published workbook 'Static', correct?

                           

                           

                          --Shawn

                          • 10. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                            Toby Erkson

                            Dang Shawn, your post is rather revealing about the understanding of (or lack of) extracts, file includes, and data scope.  The "Semi-Live" and "Semi-Static" are interesting and rather ambiguous phrases for the data "freshness".  I think that will spark more confusion.  You know, I can see how your table and some supporting text would make for a good TabWiki article

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                            • 11. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                              Russell Christopher

                              “Include external files” is really a data source thing, but yes – Like it or not, we “package” any images / custom shapes and that gets thrown out to the server regardless of the “Include external Files” checkbox state. Under the covers, that’s why we always return a TWBX to you when you “Download” even if the original workbook was published as a twb – there’d be no other way to get “extra stuff” back to the desktop.

                               

                              There is no way to explicitly replace something (image, shape, datasource file like an Excel workbook or CSV) that is part of the workbook without republishing.

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                              • 12. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                                Shawn Wallwork

                                Thanks a lot Russell! I 'liked' your answer, even though I don't like your answer. But at least I'm now clear on what the publishing options are. Much appreciated.

                                 

                                --Shawn

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                                • 13. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                                  Shawn Wallwork

                                  Toby good point. I edited that post. Take a look and see if it helps. TabWiki on it's way.

                                   

                                  --Shawn

                                  • 14. Re: Sever Question: Publishing and Replacing...
                                    Toby Erkson

                                    That is really good info, Russell

                                     

                                    Shawn, looks good but you're already great at writing stuff up, I'm confident whatever you write will be informative.

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