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Visual analytics has newfound importance in top-tier businesses, where members at all levels of the business hierarchy participate actively in analyzing, sharing, and deriving insights from the most relevant data sets. A visual representation becomes all the more important when insights are derived from raw values that cannot be understood independently. The use of convenient dashboards through Business Intelligence tools like Tableau play an important role here in converting relevant data into forms that are interpretable and understandable by all.

Tableau Reader is a free desktop application that you can use to open and interact with data visualizations built in Tableau Desktop. Filter, drill down and discover. Need more sharing power? With Tableau Server or Tableau Online, you always get the most recent version of the dashboard. Apr 17, 2013 Tableau Reader is a free application that can be used to open and see workbooks that have been built in Tableau Desktop. For more information about Tableau Reader, refer to the Tableau Reader Product page. Save the workbook to Tableau Public. After publishing a workbook to Tableau Public, anyone with a link to the workbook can see its contents. Tableau Reader Technical Specifications; Quick Links Tableau Reader. Customer Portal. Watch free online videos and get hands-on training with these educational resources. Read in-depth information about data visualization and Tableau best practices.

This article deals with the particulars of sharing and publishing Tableau Dashboards, the different methods of publishing, sharing and the steps you need to follow through to do the same. You will also understand the basics of Tableau and how Tableau Dashboards function in the first place.

Tableau of Contents

  • Publishing Tableau Dashboards
  • Sharing Tableau Dashboards

Introduction to Tableau

Tableau is a very well-known and comprehensive Visual Analytics engine which allows users to access interactive and insightful visuals through active dashboarding. This unique method of active dashboarding allows all business professionals, technical and non-technical, to come on the same page for analyzing valuable insights. Tableau also uses Business Intelligence and interactive Data Visualizations to make strategies easier to analyze, convey and deploy. All forms of raw and unstructured data can be easily organized into formats understandable by a business team.

The functioning of Tableau in tandem with different data sources and users can be illustrated as follows:

More information on Tableau can be found here.

Understanding the Key Features of Tableau

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Some of the key features of Tableau are as follows:

  • Advanced Dashboard: Tableau Dashboards provide an in-depth view of the data using advanced visualizations. Dashboards are considered to be very informative as they support the addition of multiple views and objects. It also allows visualization of data in the form of Stories by giving users a variety of layouts and formats to choose from.
  • In-Memory and Live Data: Tableau ensures seamless connectivity with data extracted from external data sources in the form of In-memory data or Live data sources. This gives users the ability to analyze data from various data sources without any restrictions.
  • Attractive Visualizations: Tableau gives users the ability to create different types of data visualizations. For example, users can seamlessly create the simplest visualizations such as a Pie Chart or Bar Chart or some of the most complex visualizations such as Bullet Chart, Gantt Chart, Boxplot, etc. Tableau also houses information on geographical data such as Countries, Cities, Postal Codes, etc. that allows users to build visualizations using informative maps.
  • Robust Security: Tableau implemented special measures to ensure user and data security. It houses a security system based on permission and authentication mechanisms for user access and data connections.
  • Predictive Analytics: Tableau houses several data modeling capabilities, including forecasting and trending. Users can easily add a trend line or forecast data for any chart, and view details describing the fit easily.

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Understanding Tableau Dashboards

Dashboards in Tableau are the main facilitators of active analysis and templating of important data. Here, data from different worksheets can be represented together in a single place. Robust and filtered Comparisons, Visualizations, and Reports can be created with Dashboards that can handle large amounts of data.

Tableau Dashboards are responsive and easy to implement with multiple Reports, Notifications, and Strategies that can be scheduled as per the requirements. Here are some typical Tableau Dashboards created with varied data types for different use cases:

Publishing Tableau Dashboards

There are two primary ways of publishing Tableau Dashboards. Read along to see which of the two ways are best suited for you. Follow the intended steps as listed below to publish Tableau dashboards:

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1) Publishing Tableau Dashboards to Tableau Server

Instead of downloading your workbook manually on Tableau, the online mode reduces this manual task by converting it into an automated one. You can share your workbook with your colleagues, or your organization online by publishing it on the Tableau Server. Publishing Tableau Dashboards to Tableau Server is a simple task that can be performed by implementing the following steps:

  • Step 1: Open Tableau Desktop.
  • Step 2: To publish the data source, select Tableau Server from the top menu. Then click on Publish a Workbook. Click on the Share button that you see on the next screen. Note: If you are unable to see the Publish a Workbook option, then make sure that the Tableau Dashboard is active, if not, you can sign in to the Tableau Server.
  • Step 3: After selecting Publish a Workbook, a dialog box will open asking for the project name that you want to publish. Provide an identifiable workbook name for the project, and add some tags and descriptions so that it becomes easier for the user to search across the workbook when published to the Tableau Server.
  • Step 4: Now, to make your workbook visible and accessible by other users, and from a security perspective, you need to provide a set of permissions after publishing Tableau Dashboard. Thus, accept the default administrator project settings, for enabling the permissions.
  • Step 5: If you wish to publish a data source to a Tableau Server, then additional care needs to be taken. There are several options available for authentication. If you want to embed the data source, you can click on the Edit option to change the access options of the data source for different users. Note: If your workbook is connected to any data source, then it is necessary to add a password or embed the data source for security reasons.
  • Step 6: Click on Publish and Share.

Your Tableau Workbook or data source will then get published to the Tableau Server.

2) Publishing Tableau Dashboards to Tableau Reader

The Tableau Reader is a free software application that one can use to view the existing Tableau Dashboards built over Tableau Desktop.

Despite the straightforward available ways to share the Tableau content with your colleagues, business partners, and officials, if you can’t share it directly to the Tableau Server, the Tableau Reader is a quick option for publishing Tableau Dashboards. Tableau Reader can also be used for publishing Tableau Dashboards for those who do not use Tableau Desktop.

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The steps for publishing Tableau Dashboard To Tableau Reader are as follows:

  • Step 1: Open the Tableau Desktop application.
  • Step 2: Find your workbook and its connected data source.
  • Step 3: Click on the Save As button present under the File menu and provide a suitable name for it.
  • Step 4: Email that saved workbook and data source with .twbx extension.
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The steps for viewing a published Tableau Dashboard using Tableau Reader are as follows:

  • Step 1: Download and Install the Tableau Reader application from the official Tableau website.
  • Step 2: Download and open the email attachment of the workbook along with the data source, right-click on the downloaded file, select the Open With option, and click on Tableau Reader.

Sharing Tableau Dashboards

There are different ways to share Tableau Dashboards. You can share them with any of your colleagues irrespective of how they were created or published. Here are the primary formats and ways in which Tableau Dashboards can be shared:

1) Sharing via Tableau Server/Public

To make your Tableau Dashboard publicly accessible, the best way is to share it via Tableau Server/Public. The steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: Open Tableau Desktop, and click on the Server button.
  • Step 2: After selecting the Server, click on Tableau Public and select Save to Tableau Public.
  • Step 3: A dialog box pops up asking to enter your credentials for Tableau Public. If you don’t have it, then you can create a profile.
  • Step 4: Upon entering the credentials, a new dialog box will open. Select Create Data Extract and click on Extract.
  • Step 5: Once done, repeat step 2, to view the final embedded Tableau Dashboard on the browser.
  • Step 6: Click on Edit if you want to add a title or any description for the Tableau Dashboard.
  • Step 7: Save it and share it with the Tableau Viewer.

2) Sharing as a Dashboard Link

If you find other sharing options difficult, then simply share it as a link. You just need to click on the Share button under the toolbar on an active dashboard. At the bottom, a dialog box appears containing the embed code and the link. Just copy the link by pressing Ctrl+C and share via email or any other form.

3) Sharing as a PDF

Tableau Dashboards can also be stored in PDF format easily. This can be done on an active dashboard. Under the File menu, you will find the Export option. Upon clicking it, you can select the option that says Export as PDF. After your workbook is ready, click on it and the file will be saved in PDF format that can be shared as per requirements.

4) Sharing as a PPT

Tableau Dashboards can be represented in PPT format too. Under the File menu, you will find the Export option. Upon clicking it, you can select the option that says Export as PPT. The workbook will then be exported in a PPT format and can be shared as per requirement.

5) Sharing as a Crosstab (Excel or CSV Files)

Tableau houses functionalities that give users the ability to share a Tableau Dashboard as a Crosstab file like CSV or Excel. In the Tableau Desktop, select the Workbook. Under the File menu, you will find the Export option. Upon clicking it, you can select the option that says Export as Crosstab to Excel. The file will then be exported in Excel or CSV format. You can share the same in case this format is more suitable for your business requirements.

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Conclusion

This article provided you with an understanding of various methods that can be implemented for sharing and publishing Tableau Dashboards. This article also explores the different publishing and sharing options along with how exactly you can use each one.

Most modern businesses make use of multiple platforms to run their day-to-day operations. Before sharing or publishing Tableau Dashboards, the primary requirement for any business is importing the data into Tableau from all their sources in the right form.

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Visualize your Data in Tableau in Real-time Easily

Tableau made a couple of brilliant decisions to completely outsmart its competitors and gained extreme popularity, while convincing millions of potential, future and current customers to invest own time to learn Tableau. 1st reason of course is Tableau Public (we discuss it in separate blog post) and other is a Free Tableau Reader, which provides full desktop user experience and interactive Data Visualization without any Tableau Server (and any other server) involved and with better performance and UI then Server-based Visualizations.

While designing Data Visualizations is done with Tableau Desktop, most users got their Data Visualizations served by Tableau Server to their Web Browser. However in the large and small organizations that usage pattern is not always the best fit. Below I am discussing a few possible use cases, where the usage of Free Tableau Reader can be appropriate, see it here: http://www.tableausoftware.com/products/reader .

1. Tableau Application Server serves Visualizations well, but not as well as Tableau Reader, because Tableau Reader delivers a truly desktop User Experience and UI. Most known example of it is a Motion Chart: you can see automatic motion with Tableau Reader but Web Browser will force user to manually emulate motion. In cases like that user advised to download workbook, copy .TWBX file to his/her workstation and open it with Tableau Reader.

Here is an example of the Motion Chart, done in Tableau, similar to famous Hans Rosling’s presentation of Gapminder’s Motion Chart (an you need the free Tableau Reader or license to Tableau Desktop to see the automatic motion of the 6-dimensional dataset with all colored bubbles, resizing over time):
http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/MotionChart_0/Motion?:embed=y

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Please note that the same Motion Chart using Google Spreadsheets will run in browser just fine (I guess because Google “bought” Gapminder and kept its code intact):
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuP4OpeAlZ3PdC14OXU1RGJsV05uaDlxRV9GLXlTZXc#gid=2

2. When you have hundreds or thousands of Tableau Server users and more then couple of Admins (users with Administrative privileges), each of Admins can override viewing privileges for any workbook, regardless of designated for that workbook Users and User Groups. In such situation there is a risk for violation of privacy and confidentiality of data involved, for example for HR Analytics and HR Dashboards and other Visualizations where private, personal and confidential data used.

Tableau Reader enables additional complementary method of delivering Data Visualizations through private channels like password-protected portals, file servers and FTP servers and in certain cases even by-passing Tableau Server entirely.

3. Due popularity of Tableau and ease of use, many groups and teams are considering Tableau as vehicle to delivering of hundreds and even thousands of Visual Reports to hundreds and may be even thousands of users. That can slow down Tableau Server, decrease user experience and create even more confidentiality problems, because it may expose confidential data to unintended users, like report for one store to users from another store.

4. Many small (and not so small either) organizations trying to save on Tableau Server licenses (at least initially) and they still can distribute Tableau-based Data Visualizations; developer(s) will have Tableau Desktop (relatively small investment) and users, clients and customers will use Tableau Reader, while all TWBX files can be distributed over FTP, portals or file servers or even by email. In my experience, when Tableau-based business will grow enough, it will pay by itself for buying licenses for Tableau Server, so usage of Tableau Reader in n o way is threat to Tbaleau Software bottom line!

Update (12/12/12) for even more happy usage of Tableau Reader: in upcoming Tableau 8 all Tableau Data Extracts – TDEs – can be created and used without any Tableau Server involved. Instead Developer can create/update TDE either with Tableau in UI mode or using Tableau Command Line Interface and script TDEs in batch mode or programmatically with new TDE API (Python, C/C++, Java). It means that Tableau workbooks can be automatically refreshed with new data without any Tableau Server and re-delivered to Tableau Reader users over … FTP, portals or file servers or even by email.