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.

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