Tableau 9.2 New Features

My last blog shared our Tableau enterprise server 9.2 upgrade experiences. Now we are focusing on training & learning  9.2 new features.

I am excited for Tableau 9.2 release, which features powerful upgrades to our Enterprise Tableau Self-Service environment. These include automated data preparation features, powerful Web Editing, enhanced enterprise data security, native iPhone support, unlimited map customization, and improved performance to help users using their data easier, smarter and faster.

Data Preparation Enhancements

New data preparation features in 9.2 mean people will spend less time preparing and searching for data and more time analyzing it. The data interpreter now not only cleans Excel spreadsheets, but also automatically detects sub-tables and converts them to tables that can be analyzed in Tableau. Data grid improvements make it easier to craft the ideal data source and quickly move on to analysis and the enhancements to the Data pane help people take fewer steps to find and update metadata.

Greater Web-Editing Flexibility

Web Editing (or Web Authoring) is a feature that enables Tableau Server users to edit and create visualizations on the fly without a license for Desktop. New features added in 9.2 include:
· Data: Edit the data within your projects with new in-browser capabilities:
o Create new fields from all or part of a formula.
o Change your field’s data type, default aggregation, and geographic role.
o Manage data blends
o Toggle fields between continuous and discrete.
o View icons that indicate which fields are linking data sources when working in workbooks with blended data.
· Dashboards: Directly access worksheets within a dashboard, and easily export an image or PDF of the dashboard.

Enhanced enterprise data security

Use the new permission controls to set default permissions for projects as well as the associated workbooks and data sources. With one click, administrators and project leaders can now lock a project’s permissions. When locked, all workbooks and data sources within a project are set to the project’s permissions and cannot be edited by individual publishers. This increases security for critical and the most sensitive data.

Native iPhone Support

People could always use their iPhones with their Tableau dashboards and visualizations, but the Tableau Mobile app is now available for the iPhone, making it easier for people to interact and access their data on the go. Tableau also introduced geolocation, which makes it possible to orient your map around your current location with a simple tap on a Tableau map in a mobile browser or on the Tableau iPad and iPhone app.

Unlimited Map Customization

Tableau 9.2 introduces more options for controlling map behavior and unlimited potential for map customization. Mapbox integration in Tableau Desktop means people can easily customize, brand, enhance and add context to maps delivering an unprecedented flexibility to create beautiful and contextually rich maps. Additionally, Tableau is expanding the support for international postal codes with the addition of Japanese postal codes and other data updates such as U.S. congressional districts.

Improved Performance

Who doesn’t want their visualizations and dashboards to render faster? Published workbooks take advantage of browser capabilities to display shape marks more quickly. Workbook legends are a little smarter to only redraw when visible changes are made. In addition, Tableau can cache more queries using its external query cache compression leading to leveraging our server memory better.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tableau server 9.2 upgrade experience

Tableau 9.2 was released on Dec 7th. Our production Tableau 16-core server was upgraded to 9.2 on Dec 17. The upgrade process took about 3 hours. It was very smooth and easy for us.

Why upgrade? We have 260+ Desktop users. A lot of them saw the Desktop 9.2 upgrade reminder at their lower right corner of their Tableau Desktop. Some users ask if they can upgrade their Desktop. The problem is that any workbooks developed by Desktop 9.2 can’t be published to 9.1 Tableau server. It is a lot of education to ask 260+ Desktop users to hold for their Desktop upgrade. I wish that I would have a pop-up message to overwrite Tableau’s default Desktop upgrade reminder, but I do not have the option…

So our game plan is to upgrade the Tableau server ASAP.  We upgraded Stage server on Dec 10th, with one week of test & validation, we upgraded our production server to 9.2. Of course, 9.2 has some great features (like iPhone support, smart Data prep, Mapbox integration, Project permission, etc). Our intent is to let users to leverage those new features as soon as possible.

We just followed Tableau’s overall upgrade process @

For our configuration, the upgrade procedures used are as following:

a. Backup primary server configuration

b. Clean up logs

c. Create backup copy

d. Uninstall workers

e. Uninstall primary server

f. Install workers

g. Install primary server

h. Verify configuration settings

Tableau Data Extract API, Tableau SDK and Web Data Connector

If you are confused about Tableau Data Extract API, Tableau SDK and Web Data Connector, please read this blog.

Tableau Data Extract API, introduced in v8, is to create binary TDE files from data sources. You can use C, C++, Java or Python to code the Extract API that generates TDE files.

Tableau v9.1 incorporated existing Extract API into new Tableau SDK that has following features:

  • Extract API(existing v8 feature): create extracts from data sources
  • Server API (v9.1 new feature): enables auto publishing of extracts to server.
  • Mac + Linux support (v9.1 new feature)

Tableau v9.1 also released  Web Data Connector that is to build Tableau connectors to read data from web site data in JSON, XML, HTML formats. Web Data Connector is programmed by JavaScript & HTML.

Some comparisons:

Native Tableau Connectors Customer SQL ODBC Connections Tableau SDK Tableau Web Data Connector
Use case Live or extracts Relational Data Sources ODBC-compliant data sources Any data sources w/o native connectors or excel Web source data only
Output live data or TDE live data or TDE live data or TDE TDE file TDE file
Language n/a SQL SQL C, C++, Java, Python 2.6, 2,7 JavaScript, HTML
Publishing & Refreshing Tableau server Tableau server Tableau server Managed outside Tableau server Tableau server

What are the steps for developing and implementing Tableau SDK?

  1. Developer: Develop Extract API (C, C++, Java, Python)
  2. Publisher or Site Admin: Connect to server (URL, user, password, site ID) and publish the extract.
  3. Once TDE is published, others can leverage the TDE the same way as any other TDE.

What are the steps for developing and implementing Web Data Connector?

  1. Developer: Develop Web Data Connector (JavaScript & HTML)
  2. Server admin: Import a Web Data Connector to Tableau server (example tabadmin import_webdataconnector connector1.html)
  3. Publisher: Workbook to embed credentials to the data sources
  4. Site Admin: Schedule Web Data Connector refresh (similar with any other data source scheduling)

As summary, there are so many data sources that Tableau is not able to come up with all native connectors. So Tableau Data Extract API was released v8 to create TDE out of data source, then v9.1 added Server API feature to automate the publishing from TDE to server. Tableau calls Extract API and Server API bundle SDK from v9.1.

Web Data Connector is a brand new feature released in v9.1 to connect to  web data sources. For security concerns, new Web Data Connector has to be registered by Tableau server admin before it can be used. Web Data Connector is coded by JavaScript & HTML, however if you just use a Web Data Connector developed by others, you do not have to know JavaScript at all.