Publish Blackbaud FE NXT-Connected Dashboards in Tableau Server

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Blackbaud FE NXT Connectivity Solutions

Use the CData Tableau Connector for Blackbaud FE NXT and Tableau Server to visualize live Blackbaud FE NXT data.

Tableau Server is a visual analytics platform transforming the way businesses use data to solve problems. When paired with the CData Tableau Connector for Blackbaud FE NXT, you get access to live Blackbaud FE NXT data within Tableau Server. This article shows how to connect to Blackbaud FE NXT in Tableau Desktop, publish a Data Source to Tableau Server, and build a simple chart from that data.

The CData Tableau Connectors enable high-speed access to live Blackbaud FE NXT data in Tableau Server. Once you install the connector, you simply authenticate with Blackbaud FE NXT and you can immediately start building responsive, dynamic visualizations and dashboards. By surfacing Blackbaud FE NXT data using native Tableau data types and handling complex filters, aggregations, & other operations automatically, CData Tableau Connectors grant seamless access to Blackbaud FE NXT data.

NOTE: The CData Tableau Connectors require Tableau 2020.3 or higher. If you are using an older version of Tableau, you will need to use the CData JDBC Driver for Blackbaud FE NXT. If you wish to connect to Blackbaud FE NXT data in Tableau Online, you will need to use CData CloudHub.

Enable Connectivity to Blackbaud FE NXT in Tableau Server

NOTE: The Other (JDBC) method for connecting will only be supported until Tableau fixes some known issues with Tableau Server. There will be a connector update that will disable use via Other (JDBC).

Start by installing the CData Tableau Connector on the machine hosting Tableau Server.

If your server is a Linux Machine:

  1. Copy cdata.financialedgenxt.taco and cdata.tableau.financialedgenxt.lic.
  2. Place the copies in the Tableau Server Connectors folder (/opt/tableau/tableau_driver/jdbc).
  3. Restart Tableau Server.

If your server is a Windows Machine:

  1. Copy cdata.tableau.financialedgenxt.lic. (typically found in C:\Program Files\CData\CData Tableau Connector for Blackbaud FE NXT\lib\) .
  2. Place the copy in the Tableau Server drivers directory (C:\ Program Files\Tableau\Drivers).
  3. Restart Tableau Server.

Next, install the CData Tableau Connector on the machine running Tableau Desktop. The connector will be installed to the correct location automatically.

Connect to Blackbaud FE NXT in Tableau Desktop

Once the connectors are installed on the Server machine, we can configure a connection to Blackbaud FE NXT in Tableau Desktop and publish a Blackbaud FE NXT-based Data Source to Tableau Server.

  1. Open Tableau Desktop.
  2. Click More under Connect -> To a Server.
  3. Select "Other Databases (JDBC)".
  4. Configure the connection to the data. The connector comes with a connection string builder that streamlines creating and managing the content of connection strings. Note that you will need to manually add "jdbc.financialedgenxt" to the beginning of the connection string.
  5. Click "Sign In".

Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT uses the OAuth authentication standard. To authenticate using OAuth, you will need to create an app to obtain the OAuthClientId, OAuthClientSecret, and CallbackURL connection properties.

See the Getting Started guide in the CData driver documentation for more information.

Discover Schemas and Query Data

Once you establish the connection to Blackbaud FE NXT data, you can configure which entities to visualize.

  1. Select CData from the Database pull-down menu.
  2. Select FinancialEdgeNXT from the Schema pull-down menu.
  3. Drag the tables and views you wish to visualize onto the join area. You can include multiple tables.
  4. Select Update Now or Automatically Update. Update Now lets you preview the first 10,000 rows of the data source (or enter the number of rows you want to see in the Rows text box). Automatically Update auto-loads the changes in the preview area.

Publish Data to Tableau Server

After you configure the data you wish to visualize, you can publish the Data Source to a Tableau Server instance. In Tableau Desktop:

  1. Click Server -> Sign In.
  2. Enter the URL for your Tableau Server.
  3. Authenticate with Tableau Server credentials.
  4. Click Server -> Publish Data Source and select your data source.
  5. Click Publish.
  6. Select the Project, name the Data Source, and optionally add a description.
  7. Click Publish.

This creates a new entry under the server's data source list, from which you an change the data source's permissions, view its history, and perform other management tasks.

Note that workstation connected to the same server will be able to use the same source in Tableau Desktop, even if the connector isn't installed there. Also, workbooks created directly on Tableau Server (via the web interface) can use this source.

Visualize Blackbaud FE NXT Data in Tableau Server

With the Data Source published to Tableau Server, you are ready to visualize Blackbaud FE NXT data.

  1. Login to your Tableau Server instance.
  2. Connect to the remote source using the Search for Data -> Tableau Server in the Connect sidebar.
  3. Click the published Data Source.
  4. Click New Workbook.
  5. In the workbook, Blackbaud FE NXT fields are listed as Dimensions and Measures, depending on the data type. The CData Tableau Connector discovers data types automatically, allowing you to leverage the powerful data processing and visualization features of Tableau.
  6. Drag a field from the Dimensions or Measures area to Rows or Columns. Tableau creates column or row headers.
  7. Select one of the chart types from the Show Me tab. Tableau displays the chart type that you selected.

Using the CData Tableau Connector for Blackbaud FE NXT with Tableau Server, you can easily create robust visualizations and reports on Blackbaud FE NXT data. Download a free, 30-day trial and get started today.