Publish and Share Excel Online Data Dashboards with Tableau Server

Ready to get started?

Download for a free trial:

Download Now

Learn more:

Excel Online ODBC Driver

The Excel Online ODBC Driver is a powerful tool that allows you to connect with live Excel Online data, directly from any applications that support ODBC connectivity.

Access Excel Online Spreadsheet data like you would a database - read, write, and update data through a standard ODBC Driver interface.



The CData ODBC driver for Excel Online enables you integrate Excel Online data into Tableau dashboards.

Integrate connectivity to Excel Online data into your enterprise reporting capabilities. The CData ODBC Driver for Excel Online enables you to access live Excel Online data in business intelligence tools like Tableau Server. Connectivity to Excel Online APIs enables you to monitor changes to your data in real time. Other members of your organization can access your dashboards from a Web browser and get updates from their mobile phone.

This article walks through the process of configuring a DSN on the client and server machines, publishing a data source for Excel Online to Tableau Server, and publishing an entire Workbook to Tableau Server (including the data source). If you publish a data source, you will be able to create new, refreshable workbooks in Tableau Server.

Connect to Excel Online as an ODBC Data Source

To create a data source or workbook in Tableau Desktop and publish the data source or workbook to Tableau server, you will need to configure a DSN on each machine (Desktop and Server), specifying connection properties and creating DSNs using the same name on each machine. Information for connecting to Excel Online follows, along with different instructions for configuring a DSN in Windows and Linux environments.

You can connect to a workbook by providing authentication to Excel Online and then setting the following properties:

  • Workbook: Set this to the name or Id of the workbook.

    If you want to view a list of information about the available workbooks, execute a query to the Workbooks view after you authenticate.

  • UseSandbox: Set this to true if you are connecting to a workbook in a sandbox account. Otherwise, leave this blank to connect to a production account.

You use the OAuth authentication standard to authenticate to Excel Online. See the Getting Started section in the help documentation for a guide. Getting Started also guides you through executing SQL to worksheets and ranges.

When you configure the DSN, you may also want to set the Max Rows connection property. This will limit the number of rows returned, which is especially helpful for improving performance when designing reports and visualizations.

Windows

If you are installing the CData ODBC Driver for Excel Online on Windows, DSN configuration is the last step of the driver installation. If you already have the driver installed, or you wish to configure new DSNs, you can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator.

Linux

If you are installing the CData ODBC Driver for Excel Online in a Linux environment, the driver installation predefines a system DSN. You can modify the DSN by editing the system data sources file (/etc/odbc.ini) and defining the required connection properties.

/etc/odbc.ini

[CData ExcelOnline Source] Driver = CData ODBC Driver for Excel Online Description = My Description

For specific information on using these configuration files, please refer to the help documentation (installed and found online).

Publish the Excel Online Data Source to Tableau Server

With the connections to Excel Online data configured, you are ready to publish a Excel Online data source on Tableau, ready to be leveraged by users in your organization to create workbooks based on Excel Online data.

Create and Publish a Data Source

  1. In the Connect pane, click More -> Other Databases (ODBC). Select CData ExcelOnline Sys, the system DSN.

    The driver installation automatically creates matching user and system DSNs: The system DSN is needed to connect from Tableau Server.

  2. In the Database menu, select CData.
  3. In the Table box, enter a table name or click New Custom SQL to enter an SQL query.
  4. Drag the table onto the join area.
  5. From the Server menu, click Publish Data Source -> (YOUR DATA SOURCE).
  6. Enter the URL to the server. For most instances, you will authenticate with the Tableau Server username and password. Other authentication scenarios can be found below:
    • If Tableau is configured to use Kerberos and your computer has valid Active Directory credentials, Tableau connects to the server.
    • If Tableau is configured to use SAML, a login prompt for your external identity provider is displayed.
    • If Tableau is configured to use Active Directory, enter your Windows username and password.
  7. In the resulting dialog, set the Project, Data Source, and other properties. If you want to schedule refreshes, select Embedded Password in the Authentication menu. Click Publish.

You and other users in your organization can now create and share workbooks based on the published data source.

Refresh Workbooks

With a system DSN configured on the client (Tableau Desktop) machine and server (Tableau Server) machine, you can refresh workbooks connected to the Excel Online data source. From the Web interface for Tableau Sever, click Data -> (YOUR DATA SOURCE) -> Refresh.

Publish a Completed Workbook with Excel Online Data to Tableau Server

If you have a specific Workbook that you wish to share with your organization, you can create the Workbook on Tableau Desktop and publish the Workbook directly to Tableau Server.

  1. To connect to Excel Online and select data, follow steps 1-5 above.
  2. Click Server -> Sign in and configure the connection to the server. For most instances, you will authenticate with the Tableau Server username and password. Other authentication scenarios can be found below:
    • If Tableau is configured to use Kerberos and your computer has valid Active Directory credentials, Tableau connects to the server.
    • If Tableau is configured to use SAML, a login prompt for your external identity provider is displayed.
    • If Tableau is configured to use Active Directory, enter your Windows username and password.
  3. With the data selected, select dimensions and measures to visualize and select a type of chart or graph to build your visualization(s).
  4. Once the Workbook is complete, click Server -> Publish Workbook to publish the Workbook to Tableau Server.
  5. In the resulting dialog, set the Project, Name, Description and other properties. If you want to schedule refreshes, click Edit under Data Sources and change the Authentication option to Embedded Password. Click Publish.

You and other users in your organization can now review the published workbook from Tableau Server.