Establish a Live Connection with Excel Services Data using Tableau Bridge

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Excel Services ODBC Driver

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

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



The CData ODBC Driver for Excel Services enables you to integrate live Excel Services data into Tableau Online dashboards using the Tableau Bridge.

The Tableau Bridge enables you to publish dashboards to Tableau Online while maintaining live connectivity with any data source. In this article, you will use the Tableau Bridge to maintain data freshness in a published workbook by listening for changes in the underlying Excel Services data.

The CData ODBC drivers offer unmatched performance for interacting with live Excel Services data in Tableau Online due to optimized data processing built into the driver. When you issue complex SQL queries from Tableau Online to Excel Services, the driver pushes supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to Excel Services and utilizes the embedded SQL engine to process unsupported operations (often SQL functions and JOIN operations) client-side. With built-in dynamic metadata querying, you can visualize and analyze Excel Services data using native Tableau data types.

Connect to Excel Services as an ODBC Data Source

If you have not already, first specify connection properties in an ODBC DSN (data source name). This is the last step of the driver installation. You can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure ODBC DSNs.

The URL, User, and Password properties, under the Authentication section, must be set to valid credentials for SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2010, or SharePoint 2013. Additionally, the Library property must be set to a valid SharePoint Document Library and the File property must be set to a valid .xlsx file in the indicated Library.

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.

Add Excel Services Data to a Dashboard

  1. From a new workbook, click Data -> New Data Source -> Other Databases (ODBC).
    Select the CData Data Source Name (for example: CData ExcelServices Source).
  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. This article retrieves the Account table.
  4. Drag the table onto the join area. At this point, you can include multiple tables, leveraging the built-in SQL engine to process complex data requests.
  5. Click the tab for your worksheet. Columns are listed as Dimensions and Measures, which you can drag and drop onto the dashboard to create visualizations.

Set Up Tableau Bridge as a Service

  1. In the Server menu, select Start Tableau Bridge Client.
  2. Sign in to the Tableau Bridge using a site admin level account.
  3. If prompted, select the Tableau Online site where you want to publish live data. The bridge client will open and is accessible from the system tray.
  4. By default, the Tableau Bridge client is set to Application mode. Select 'Switch to service' to enable Tableau Bridge to handle live connections.
  5. Log in to your Tableau Online site as an administrator.
  6. From your site, click Settings, then Bridge.
  7. In the Bridge settings, under Enable Clients to Maintain Live Connections, check the box labeled 'Enable Tableau Bridge clients to maintain live connections to on-premises data.'

Publish a Dashboard Containing the Live Data Source

Having configured both the Tableau Bridge and Tableau Online to enable live data connections, you can now publish your workbook to Tableau Online. From the Server menu, select Publish Workbook.

After choosing the workbook name and project that you wish to publish to, configure the deployment so that the CData ODBC driver for Excel Services is embedded in your workbook as a separate, live data source.

  1. Under Data Sources, select the option to Edit the embedded data sources in the workbook.
  2. Change Publish Type to 'Published separately,' then select a desired means of authentication.
  3. Last, select 'Maintain connection to a live data source' and click the green Publish Workbook button.

The published workbook now updates alongside the underlying Excel Services data. From a published dashboard, simply click the Refresh button to reflect the most recent changes.