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While I haven't worked with the spatial data type in SQL Server, my guess is that you won't really see any difference in Tableau...for a couple of reasons. I think Tableau will probably just convert it (internally) to a decimal. The only place where you could get some boost is in running the query from SQL Server, but data types don't have that much impact on how fast a query runs. Sure, the size of the data types can affect the speed for returning the data, but I think it's highly unlikely that you'd see any difference using spatial vs decimal.
I could be wrong of course...
One more thing to note on this. The current beta version of Tableau supports SQL Server spatial data, so there could definitely be some value in using spatial data types in SQL. More info here: Coming Soon | Tableau Software
I have created maps with a greater number of addresses stored as decimals. The query is super fast, the bottleneck is in drawing the map. I don't know if the spatial file will allow Tableau to draw faster, but you could turn on the performance monitor and check a sample of each method.
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Tableau has native support for spatial data from SQL Server. Storing your data in SQL Server using Geography-type and SRID:4326 will be the most performant. Tableau never converts a spatial format to a non-spatial format. When building a viz that uses point objects, I would recommend using the Circle mark type with Hardware Acceleration enabled. Consider using an Extract instead of a live connection as well, depending on your needs.