SCALING TABLEAU (8/10) – LEVERAGE V10 FEATURES FOR ENTERPRISE

I love Tableau’s path of innovations. Tableau v10 has some most wanted new capabilities to enterprise customers. I have mentioned some of those features in my previous blogs. This blog summarizes V10 enterprise features:

  1. Set Extract Priority Based on Extract Duration.  

This is a very powerful v10 feature for server admin although it is not mentioned enough in Tableau community yet.   What this feature does is for the full extracts in the same priority  to run in order from shortest to longest based on their “last” run duration.

The benefit is to that smaller extracts do not have to wait for long time for big ones to finish. Tableau server will execute the smaller ones first so overall waiting time will be reduced during peak hours.

What server admin have to do to leverage this feature?

  • By default, this feature is off. Server admin has to turn it on. It is not site specific. Once it is on, it applies for all sites. Simplify run the following tabadmin to turn it on:
  •  tabadmin set backgrounder.sort_jobs_by_run_time_history_observable_hours  36
  • Please ready my blog  and Tableau doc for details.

2. Revision History and Version Control

Tableau released one of the most wanted server features – version control and revision history in V9.3. Then this feature is  much more enhanced in V10 with previewing old workbook,  one click restoring, and maximum revisions setting:

  • The workbook previewing and restoring features are so convenience for publishers.
  • The maximum revision setting is so cool for server admin who can actually control the server space usage so you do not have to run out of storage while enabling revision history.

How to deploy those features on server?

  • Turn it on: By default, Revision History is off. It can be turned on site by site. To turn it on, go to site Setting, General and select  “Save a history of revisions“.  If you are on V10, you have two choices of Unlimited and # of revisions. Unlimited means that there is no limit on the max version history, which you probably do not want to have. As a server admin, you always want to make sure that your server will not run out of space. You will find # of revision is a very handy feature so admins can have some peace of mind about server storage.Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 3.27.57 PM
  • Decide the max revision you want to have which is site specific – it means that you can set diff max revisions for diff sites.
  • How to decide the max revisions to keep? How to find out extra server space for revisions?  Pls read my blog 

3. Cross database Joins and Cross Database Filter

X-DB joins and X-data source filters are two  most requested features by user community. Those are two different but related things.

X-DB joins allows two or more separate data sources to join together in row level. There are still some constraints on which kinds of data sources can be joined in V10 while Tableau plans to extend more in coming releases: V10 only allows extract to be primary data source while joins w other database and does not allow two extracts to join together yet.

What X-DB joins means for server admin?

  • Knowing that server admin has no control for x-db joins. It is totally controlled by publishers. This feature is enabled out of box and server admin  can’t turn it off – hopefully you never need to.
  • Watch server performance. A lot of x-db join activities happen on Tableau server. I was little skeptical about this feature that server admin does not have any control or visibility.  On the other side,  I have not uncounted any issues either after my v10 server upgrade since Nov 2016.
  •  From publisher perspective, the x-db joins can be slow if joins two large datasets.

What is cross database filter?

Use case example: Let’s say you’re connected to multiple data sources, each with common dimensions like Date or Product. And as part of your analysis, you want to have a single filter apply across all the sources.  That’s where this new feature comes in. Any time you have data sets that share a common dimension, you can filter across the data sets.  A few things to know about cross database filter

  • It is not x-db join but more like blending  where you can manage relationship to edit the blending from connected sources
  • You can only filter data across multiple primary data sources.You cannot filter data across secondary data sources.

4. Desktop License Reporting

Enable Desktop License Reporting is included in V10. This is an awesome feature to track Desktop usage even Desktop users do not publish. Pls see details about this @http://enterprisetableau.com/licensing/

The challenge to leverage this feature is how to change each user’s laptop to make the initially configuration. Here is what you need to know:

  • It work only if both Desktop and Server are on v10.
  • This feature is turned off on server by default, you can turn it on  using tabadmin
    tabadmin set features.DesktopReporting true
    tabadmin config
    tabadmin restart
  • The most difficult part is to update Windows Desktop’s registry or Mac Desktop’s plist to point to the Tableau server where you want license usage to be sent to. Best way is  to have Desktop v10 installer. Pls ref my previous blog for details.
  • You should have all company’s Desktop pointing to one Tableau server even Desktop users publish to different servers. This way you will have one place to see all enterprise Desktop usage.
  • By default, Tableau Desktop v10+ will ping Tableau server v10+ for usage reporting every 8 hrs. You can configure intervals on  Desktop.  It is controlled by plist of the Mac or registry of Windows. It is not tabadmin option. See here.

5. Subscribe Others

Finally Tableau delivered this long asking feature in V10. A few things to know:

  • This feature has to be enabled at site level
  • You can create custom email from address for each site. This is handy since users who received the subscription emails may not want to connect server admin rather site admin for questions.
  • Only workbook owners can subscribe others
  • The user has to have an email address in the Account Settings, otherwise subscribe others will not be highlighted.  If a lot of users do not have email address on Tableau server, you may have to mass update all users with valid email address before this feature can really be enabled.
  • You can’t subscribe to groups but users only. If you really want to subscribe group, one workaround is to create dummy user, then give group email to this dummy user.
  • You can’t subscribe to users who are not valid users of the site
  • You can’t subscribe to users who do not have permission to view the workbooks or views
  • The users who are subscribed can click ‘Manager my subscriptions’ link at the bottom of the subscribed emails to de-subscribe anytime.
  • Users can always subscribe themselves if they have view permission to the workbooks or views.

6. Device Specific Dashboard Layout 

After you’ve built a dashboard you can create layouts for it that are specific to particular phone or tablet devices. It will be the same URL but Tableau will render different layout depends on devices used to access the server.

Most of users (specially executive users) use phones to view information. This is great feature to drive Tableau enterprise adoption. A few notes:

  • It is enabled out of the box. There is no server or site level setting to enable or disable this feature.
  • When publish the dashboards, make sure to clear the option ‘ Show Sheets as Tabs’. Otherwise this feature does not work
  • This feature works for Tableau Apps and it also works for mobile devices that do not have Tableau Apps installed.
  • The best practice is to remove some views from default layout so mobile device layout will have fewer views than default layout

What are the design tips:

  • Ask yourself: What key information does my end user need from my dashboard?
  • Click “device preview” to confirm how your dashboard looks across different devices.
  • (For small screens) Remove unnecessary views, filters, titles, and legends.
  • (For small screens) Determine if you need a scrollable dashboard (fit width). If so, stack dashboard objects and use a “peek.”
  • (On touch devices) On scrollable dashboards, pin your maps, and disable pan and zoom.

With device designer, you’ll rest assured knowing your data stands out with optimized dashboards on any device!

6. Dataa Source Analytics

Data source management has been brought into line with Workbooks, so that we now have revision history, usage information and users can have favourite data sources.

You can also change the view for data sources so that you can see them grouped by where they connect to, instead of the data source name.

Tableau has yet to come up with data source lineage features announced in TC16 Austin  – from data source column to tell which workbooks use so you can do impact analysis when data source changes, or from workbooks to tell which data source table or/and columns for us to tell potential duplicated data sources. I am expecting those big new features in 2017.

7. Site Specific SAML

If using SAML authentication, you can make this site specific, instead of for the whole server.  This means that some sites on your Tableau Server can use SAML for single sign on, whilst others will just use normal authentication.

I know that it takes months for enterprise customers to leverage some of those new features. Hope this blog helps. Pls feel free to post your tips and tricks of implementing those features.

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