Publish Excel Online-Connected Dashboards in Tableau Server

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Excel Online Tableau Connector

The fastest and easiest way to connect Tableau to Excel Online data. Includes comprehensive high-performance data access, real-time integration, extensive metadata discovery, and robust SQL-92 support.



Use the CData Tableau Connector for Excel Online and Tableau Server to visualize live Excel Online 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 Excel Online, you get access to live Excel Online data within Tableau Server. This article shows how to connect to Excel Online 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 Excel Online data in Tableau Server. Once you install the connector, you simply authenticate with Excel Online and you can immediately start building responsive, dynamic visualizations and dashboards. By surfacing Excel Online data using native Tableau data types and handling complex filters, aggregations, & other operations automatically, CData Tableau Connectors grant seamless access to Excel Online 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 Excel Online. If you wish to connect to Excel Online data in Tableau Online, you will need to use CData Connect Cloud.

Enable Connectivity to Excel Online in Tableau Server

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

If your server is a Linux Machine:

  1. Create a directory for the connector files. For example: /opt/tableau/tableau_driver/connectors
  2. Update your Tableau configuration with the location of the directory: tsm configuration set -k native_api.connect_plugins_path -v /opt/tableau/tableau_driver/connectors --force-keys
  3. Copy cdata.excelonline.taco and cdata.tableau.excelonline.lic from the connector installation directory.
  4. Place the copies in the directory created above.
  5. Restart Tableau Server.

If your server is a Windows Machine:

  1. Create a directory for the connector files. For example: C:\Program Files\Tableau\Connectors
  2. Update your Tableau configuration with the location of the directory: tsm configuration set -k native_api.connect_plugins_path -v C:\Program Files\Tableau\Connectors --force-keys
  3. Copy cdata.excelonline.taco and cdata.tableau.excelonline.lic from the connector installation directory.
  4. Place the copies in the directory created above.
  5. 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 Excel Online in Tableau Desktop

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

  1. Open Tableau Desktop.
  2. Click More under Connect -> To a Server.
  3. Select "Excel Online by CData".
  4. Configure the connection to the data.

    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.

  5. Click "Sign In".

Discover Schemas and Query Data

Once you establish the connection to Excel Online data, you can configure which entities to visualize.

  1. Select CData from the Database pull-down menu.
  2. Select ExcelOnline 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 Excel Online Data in Tableau Server

With the Data Source published to Tableau Server, you are ready to visualize Excel Online 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, Excel Online 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 Excel Online with Tableau Server, you can easily create robust visualizations and reports on Excel Online data. Download a free, 30-day trial and get started today.