7 Replies Latest reply on Dec 23, 2016 11:14 AM by John Kuo

    What's your biggest PITA as an admin?

    Toby Erkson

      I'll tell you what mine is:  Excel


      I freaking hate Excel when people use it as a data source!   Especially when they have it in SharePoint!!!  It is such a PITA for many users and then it becomes a PITA for me because those users come to me asking why it can't connect or why it can't update/refresh or why why why...

      Just one example of a conversation with a user this morn:



      What's your pain as an admin?

        • 1. Re: What's your biggest PITA as an admin?
          Andrew Clapson

          Multiple embedded data sources....that are identical to 7 other embedded data sources used elsewhere.

          : )

          • 2. Re: What's your biggest PITA as an admin?
            Jeff Strauss

            One of our big ones that we constantly have to babysit is how long it takes for extracts to refresh and go cleanly.  To facilitate the higher priority refreshes, we do have a pecking order of schedules, but then within schedules we set priorities.  The problem is that when you republish an extract, it reverts back to a default priority of 50.


            Also, permissions could still use some work.  Or maybe my knowledge of how to effectively set them could use the real work   Last week, I was trying to set a specific user to have download privileges across all workbooks on the server.  I don't really know how to effectively do this in bulk without overlaying permissions for all users.  So our short term solution we ended up just elevating his server role to something higher than it probably should be.


            For your Excel dilemma, you can use UNC path and then "do not include external files" when publishing.  But often times the analysts forget to do this.  And I agree that it's a pain!!!!


            Also, replacing datasources is a pain in terms of changing corporate colors, I know there's an idea out there on this one.

            • 3. Re: What's your biggest PITA as an admin?
              Jeff Strauss

              encourage using published datasources, I know it's a shift in thinking, but really effective when it catches on!

              • 4. Re: What's your biggest PITA as an admin?
                Lazy Rambler

                I have more than one


                1. I cannot find the queries being run easily. Sometimes I just find them, sometimes it takes a lot of time, and sometimes I never do. There's so many log files!


                2. Excel! Toby, I had a similar conversation to what you had with another user here.

                • 5. Re: What's your biggest PITA as an admin?
                  Graeme Britz

                  Hi Andrew,


                  Can you elaborate more on this problem? Are there published data sources available that people could use instead?



                  • 6. Re: What's your biggest PITA as an admin?
                    Andrew Clapson

                    Sometimes there are existing published data sources, sometimes there aren't.


                    My specific point was the repetition of data sources in several (similar) dashboards.

                    For instance, an Excel workbook named 'dashboard_data_final.xlsx' (same file, same path) is an embedded data source in three separate workbooks.


                    However, it's my team's mandate to create and publish high-quality shared data sources that people will use, so...this is partly my own fault.  ; )

                    • 7. Re: What's your biggest PITA as an admin?
                      John Kuo

                      I get a lot of questions about live connections not displaying latest data, too. So much so that I have a canned email response:


                      Tableau is a query based tool, not a live streaming tool. A Live Connection means that Tableau sends queries to your database, and retrieves data. Generally, these queries will return whatever data is currently in the database; with one important exception – any data currently in Tableau’s cache. The fail-safe way to retrieve current data is to hit the "Refresh" button on the dashboard screen. This tells Tableau to dump the cache and update the view using data retrieved from the database.


                      Another major one is people using Tableau for tabular reports like Excel then complain about poor performance on large data sets. The dashboard also looks HORRIBLE as it's not visual at all like a spreadsheet. I often explain that it's like trying to hammer a nail with a screwdriver. Can it be done? Yes. Is that the most efficient way to do the task? No.


                      This is the blurb I send to people when I see tabular reports:


                      The dashboard in question is a tabular report. Tableau is a data visualization tool thus its strength is transforming text data into marks such as bars, dots, lines, etc. Tabular reports are best used by other software like Excel as Tableau is designed for interactive visualizations with drill-down capability.  


                      See this link for more info:



                      Also, from the attached PDF (contains very good info, please feel free to forward as you see fit):



                      We suggest you consider revisiting your requirements or consider another approach if:


                      • The primary use case for the reader is to export the data to another format (often a CSV or Excel file). This often means a tabular report with many rows of detailed data. To be clear, Tableau does allow users to export data from a view or dashboard to Excel – either at a summary or detail level. However, when the primary use case is to export it means this is an ersatz extract-transform-load (ETL) process. There are much more efficient solutions than a reporting tool to achieve this.
                      • You need highly complex, crosstab-style documents that perhaps mirror existing spreadsheet reports with complex sub-totalling, cross-referencing, etc. Common examples here are financial reports such as P&L, balance sheet, etc. Additionally, there may be the need for scenario modelling, what-if analysis and even write-back of assumption data. If the underlying granular data is not available or if the report logic is based on “cell references” rather than rolling up records to totals then it might be appropriate to continue using a spreadsheet for this style of report.


                      In summary, use Tableau to leverage its strength in creating interactive visualizations, e.g. bar chart, lines, pie chart, etc. Tableau is not optimized for tabular text reports like Excel; consider using other tools best suited and designed for tabular reports.

                      1 of 1 people found this helpful