Isolating Tableau Server Performance Issues

In this post, I’ll be describing a set of steps to follow to isolate the causes of performance issues on Tableau Server.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Test the workbook in Tableau Desktop. Does it perform well? If yes:
  2. Test the workbook in Tableau Desktop on the Tableau Server machine. Does it perform the same as it did on the previous machine? If yes:
  3. Publish the workbook to Tableau Server, and find a time when there is low-to-no usage on the Tableau Server. Go to the published workbook. Did it perform relatively the same as the test in Step 2 (within 1-3 seconds)?  If yes:
  4. Test the workbook during a time of high usage on the Tableau Server (either natural or do load testing using TabJolt).

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Using Pass-Through Functions (RAWSQL) for Row-Level Security

In the classic text on the subject of Tableau Row Level Security, How to set up your Database for Row Level Security in Tableau, this author discussed the “WHERE method” of doing security look-ups, but advised that since the only practical method for achieving it was Initial SQL, that the “JOIN method” was best practice.

However, it has come to my attention that one of the most overlooked features that has been in Tableau for a long long time can be used to achieve the WHERE method, as well as run any arbitrary function or stored procedure that might be useful in establishing security context. What is this functionality, you are asking yourself (hopefully not out loud but I won’t judge too much): Pass-Through Functions i.e. the RAWSQL commands.

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Securely Passing Parameters into a Tableau Viz at Load Time

When embedding a Tableau viz into an application, we are very often asked about passing parameters in to the viz to filter down information. This post is about a few methods of implementing this behavior, and the security implications of each of them.

I’ll start by saying, to do any of this securely, you need EVERY resource you are working with to be using the HTTPS protocol (latest TLS version). If anything is not HTTPS, you could be passing important information in the clear.

There are three methods of setting a Tableau Parameter on a Tableau Server viz:

  1. Putting the Parameter value directly in the URL using a name value pair
  2. Setting the Parameter value using the JS API options object in the constructor method. This actually does the equivalent of #1 and puts the values in the URL
  3. Use changeParameterValueAsync() method of the JS API.

Each has its own benefits and downsides.

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tableau_tools 4.3.0 released!

tableau_tools 4.3.0 is now up and available on PyPi and GitHub!

If you’ve installed before, just run

pip install tableau_tools --upgrade

There’s lots of good stuff in this release:

  • 100% implementation of the spec. If it is in the Reference Guide, it’s possible through tableau_tools. There are even a few things that aren’t in the reference guide 😉
  • 10.5 / API 2.8 compatibility
  • Vastly improved README file, covering almost all topics
  • Code refactoring broke up some of the larger library files into easier to understand pieces
  • So much more!

As always, please let me know through GitHub if there are any issues.

Using tableau_tools to change Permissions

In tableau_tools 4.2.3, there is a new example called permissions_changing.py . The examples create_site_sample.py and permissions_auditing.py show how to set permissions when you are working with a new site or to look at the permissions that exist on an existing site, but there was not previously an example of updating an existing site, where you might have existing permissions of any sort. The script itself is decently commented, but here I want to explore some of the things I had to think about when putting the script together, to help people doing other variations of this task. Read through the script, which is reasonably well commented, then come back and read more to gain a more full understanding.

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Flexible Trellis Views in Tableau

Tableau does small multiples really well, but if you really only have one dimension, the only way to display things is in a straight list. With a couple of simple calculations, you can transform that list into a trellis, making 2 dimensions out of one!

Trellis Pies

If you look at the screenshot, you’ll notice that the Columns and Rows are both calculations, Table Calculations to be precise.  These are generic calculations that can be added to any workbook.

[Number of Columns] is an Integer type Parameter, necessary for the modulo and division calculations..

Column Calc

( INDEX() – 1 ) % [Number of Columns]

Row Calc

INT ( ( INDEX() – 1) / [Number of Columns] )

How do these calculations work? The Column Calc is using the Modulo operator (%), which only returns the remainder from division. The remainder will be the same for each multiple in a list — i.e. 3, 5, 7 all have 1 as a remainder when divided by 2. This allows for grouping in the columns.

The Row Calc is basically cutting the Index into as many slices as there are columns.

You set both of these calculations to be Discrete (blue pills) and they will create individual “slots” in a trellis.

In the screenshot, the “listing” element is Sub-Category. So the Compute Using option of both calculations should be set to Sub-Category. This makes the INDEX() function calculate down the Sub-Category field. This field must be on the Marks card somewhere — at minimum in the Detail. You can add in additional fields to make more interesting displays, like the pies. It’s also a great way to display multiple text elements without them being straight lists.

Deselect “Show Headers” and the trellis layout calcs disappear to the end user.

Trellis Text