6 Replies Latest reply on Mar 22, 2019 9:32 AM by Ciara Brennan

    Tableau - its tools and the ensuing confusion and frustration for newbies

    DCS Reporting

      We are a 1 week old Tableau (2019.1) user. We are also a 10+ year Filemaker (17) user. Our underlying goal for several years has been to decentralize our operations so that we as a corporation are completely cloud based. We were brought to the Tableau product through recommendations from multiple Filemaker consultants. After taking a look at the Tableau site and trial we committed (albeit at a very small starting footprint) to use this great product.


      The concept we envisioned was simple, at least so we thought. We have our main (Filemaker 17) database hosted online (Filemaker Cloud). We chose to purchase Tableau Creator with the Tableau Online option. Again, these decisions were based on the desire to not have any requirements of 'local' hardware to support our business. The concept was to create data connections in Tableau Online that used FM Cloud as the source, set those to update periodically then build our worksheets, dashboards and stories.


      To begin our 14 day trial we downloaded Desktop. Fairly quickly we were able to create data sources using the web data connector (WDC) developed by Filemaker. Updating the data was done manually and doing so we could see how powerful Tableau really is. Then (still during the trial) we published our worksheet (with the data source embedded) to Tableau Online so we could try to schedule updates. So far this has never worked.


      During the trial there was no real customer support other than from the 'account manager' (read 'sales person') that was unable to provide basic answers, rather we were given an endless list of links to documents and YT clips that described how to use specific tools. There was never anything that would guide us through the concept scenario we were/are trying to put in place. Now, between the 14 day trial and the time we've invested in the last week we have the better part of a month invested in this product with nothing of much value to show. The last communication I had from my account rep was to use Tableau Prep to automate the data feed but as far as I can tell that tool 1) has to run on a local resource (or I suppose a VM somewhere offsite) and 2) you cannot create a WDC data source using Prep. The other suggestion was to have him put us in touch with a "vetted third party partner". Does Tableau not support their own product?


      Has anyone been able to successfully implement Tableau Online in the fashion I'm describing?


      NOTE: I will be cross posting this discussion in the Filemaker Community

        • 1. Re: Tableau - its tools and the ensuing confusion and frustration for newbies
          Michael Gillespie

          I'm sorry that your experience so far has been frustrating.  Your requirements are not directly addressed by Tableau's native connectivity options, but there may be a way to help.


          IF this is going to work (and it is an IF, I'm afraid), you need one more piece of technology from Tableau: Tableau Bridge.  I'm going to try to explain why, and what's going on behind the scenes.  Bear with me!


          Tableau Online is a shared, multi-tenant version of Tableau Server.  There are some important differences between the 2 platforms, however, and one of them is the use of a Web Data Connector.  I need to explain one concept before we move on.  If you have your own copy of Tableau Server, you have access to the filesystem location where the software is installed.  You can logically subdivide your Server into multiple Sites (a security partition of the Server).  On Tableau Online, however, you are the tenant of a Site, not the Server, and so your ability to modify certain things about the whole Server installation is restricted.


          Because of Tableau Server's underlying architecture, deployment of a Web Data Connector requires access to the root filesystem of the Tableau Server installation, which you do not have.  That means that WDC's cannot be used DIRECTLY on Tableau Online.  But there is a way to enable that in some cases.  That way is Tableau Bridge.


          Bridge is a special version of Tableau Desktop that is used to connect Tableau Online to some web-based data sources, and to data sources on YOUR non-public network.  It must be installed on a computer on your network, and effectively, it's a data broker.  Tableau Online talks to your copy of Tableau Bridge, and Tableau Bridge talks to Filemaker Cloud.  That way, you can get your data from FM Cloud into Tableau Online.


          The catch is that this only works if the authentication method that FM Cloud uses is a simple username/password combination.  If it uses anything more complicated than that (e.g. OAuth, or Okta, or some other external identity provider) then it won't work.  (At the risk of annoying you, here's a link that explains all that: Expand Data Freshness Options by Using Tableau Bridge - Tableau )


          Finally, this is (probably) why Tableau suggested a consultant (i.e., a guy like me).  If you had Tableau Server (even in the cloud) you would have a better chance of making this work.  If your Filemaker installation was NOT in the cloud, you could probably make this work with an ODBC connection.  But the combination of Tableau Online and Filemaker Cloud really complicates things.


          I hope that's helpful, or at least clarifies what's going on.  Ciara Brennan is there any way you can raise this internally to get these folks a little more help?  It does feel like the sales process wasn't the best experience ever...

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          • 2. Re: Tableau - its tools and the ensuing confusion and frustration for newbies
            Ciara Brennan

            Thanks, Michael.

            DCS Reporting, I'd be happy to follow up on this if you like? Would you like me to connect with the account manager team for you?


            Kind Regards


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            • 3. Re: Tableau - its tools and the ensuing confusion and frustration for newbies
              DCS Reporting

              Good morning Michael (and Ciara Brennan),


              I appreciate the time from both of you to compose your replies. It reaffirms most of what I've learned after multiple attempts to get the various tools (ie - pieces of technology) that were made available to me with our purchase.


              After realizing that TO (Tableau Online) would not connect natively to Filemaker Cloud I had attempted to use TB (Tableau Bridge). Those attempts failed with "status code = 5054, Failed to refresh data source: <data source name shown here> due to the following error: SyntaxError: JSON Parse error: Unexpected identifier "<password shown here>"   file: https://davisclaims.<WDC name shown here>   line: 208 Unable to create extract"


              At first I thought this was due to the password containing the @ symbol but I continued to get the same result after changing the password to something simpler. Using advice from Ciara in a related post I determined that TB will not work with the WDC for Filemaker Cloud, most likely due to the authorization method used.


              At the end of the day, I've written a script in FM to export an XLS file onto a local PC and by using that as my primary data source I'm able to run TB on a schedule to keep the data connection on TO up to date (every hour). This seems to be working for now. I will wait until the next release of Tableau to see if just maybe they include a native Filemaker connector. For now, I need to put this to bed for a while and move on to other, more pressing matters in this one man IT shop.


              I only hope that this series of posts along with others related to my trials and tribulations will be found by other new users to save them the long process I've been through. As with most new technologies there is a steep learning curve in the beginning but, as I say to folks about many other things, I'm just too old. Old enough to remember the days when a new customer got a certain amount of hand holding, even before they made a purchase, to be sure they understood the product and how it should be implemented.



              Steve Pugh

              Davis Claim Services, Inc.

              • 4. Re: Tableau - its tools and the ensuing confusion and frustration for newbies
                DCS Reporting

                Ciara Brennan - I appreciate it but there's not a need now. I have a working model that will run until the next release (or I have more time, whichever comes first ).


                Thank you for your reply,


                • 5. Re: Tableau - its tools and the ensuing confusion and frustration for newbies
                  Michael Gillespie

                  I was afraid that would be the result with Bridge.


                  Your interim method will work, but it's far from optimal, as you know.  There are going to be some changes coming to the way Tableau deals with data sources that are not on the officially-supported list, but I don't know any more than that.  Perhaps that will help.


                  Good luck with the current approach, and please continue to use the forums if you have questions in the future.

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                  • 6. Re: Tableau - its tools and the ensuing confusion and frustration for newbies
                    Ciara Brennan

                    You're very welcome, Steve

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