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Hi Kary. Generally speaking, connecting to the API is best practice as it's conceptually best practice to shield us practitioners from underlying database changes that Tableau may choose to implement as part of newer releases of the software. This being said, we are migrating toward using the API more and more, though not all options are available via the API, so in some cases we are forced to continue to query the db directly. So my vote is API all the way, and it keeps getting feature improvements with each new release.
Thanks so much for your response Jeff!
I would like to know the challenges when connected to API, something like you mentioned, about not all options being available via the API.
Can you give me few examples of what options are not available via API? I tried to search for these challenges. I couldn't find anything online.
Please let me know if there are any available documents or urls for the above.
The core functionality is there within the API, but there are some edge cases.
One example that comes to the top for an internal custom portal we created was to expose a list of custom saved views that users have previously bookmarked. It's not available within the API's to do this, so we had to query the database.
Another example of one that is available now within the API, but we haven't converted to it yet is the ability to query user favorites. It wasn't there when we wrote our custom portal, but now it is and we haven't gotten around to converting to it yet. Reference-Tableau Server REST API - Tableau