Visualize FTP Data in Tableau

Ready to get started?

Download for a free trial:

Download Now

Learn more:

FTP ODBC Driver

The FTP ODBC Driver is a powerful tool that allows you to connect with live data from remote files and directories, directly from any applications that support ODBC connectivity.

Access remote data like you would a database through a standard ODBC Driver interface.



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

The CData ODBC Driver for FTP enables you to access live FTP data in business intelligence tools like Tableau. In this article, you will integrate FTP data into a dashboard that reflects changes to FTP data in real time.

The CData ODBC drivers offer unmatched performance for interacting with live FTP data in Tableau due to optimized data processing built into the driver. When you issue complex SQL queries from Tableau to FTP, the driver pushes supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to FTP 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 FTP data using native Tableau data types.

Connect to FTP 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.

To connect to FTP or SFTP servers, specify at least RemoteHost and FileProtocol. Specify the port with RemotePort.

Set User and Password to perform Basic authentication. Set SSHAuthMode to use SSH authentication. See the Getting Started section of the data provider help documentation for more information on authenticating via SSH.

Set SSLMode and SSLServerCert to secure connections with SSL.

The data provider lists the tables based on the available folders in your FTP server. Set the following connection properties to control the relational view of the file system:

  • RemotePath: Set this to the current working directory.
  • TableDepth: Set this to control the depth of folders to list as views.
  • FileRetrievalDepth: Set this to retrieve and list files recursively from the root table.

Stored Procedures are available to download files, upload files, and send protocol commands. See the Data Model chapter of the FTP data provider documentation for more information.

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 FTP Data to a Dashboard

  1. Click Connect to Data -> More Servers -> Other Databases (ODBC).
    Select the CData Data Source Name (for example: CData FTP 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 MyDirectory 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. In the Connection menu, select the Live option, so that you skip loading a copy of the data into Tableau and instead work on real-time data. The optimized data processing native to CData ODBC drivers enables unmatched performance in live connectivity.
  6. Click the tab for your worksheet. Columns are listed as Dimensions and Measures, depending on the data type. The CData driver discovers data types automatically, allowing you to leverage the powerful data processing and visualization features of Tableau.
  7. Drop the Filesize column in the Dimensions pane onto the dashboard. When you select dimensions, Tableau builds a query to the driver. The results are grouped based on that dimension. In Tableau, the raw query is automatically modified as you select dimensions and measures.
  8. Drag the Filename column in the Measures field onto the Detail and Color buttons. Tableau executes the following query:

    SELECT Filesize, SUM(Filename) FROM MyDirectory GROUP BY Filesize

    When you select a measure, Tableau executes a command to the driver to calculate a summary function, such as SUM, AVG, etc., on the grouped values. The SQL engine (embedded within the driver) is leveraged to process the aggregation of the data, where needed, providing a seamless experience in Tableau, regardless of the data source.

    To change the summary function, open the Filename menu and select the summary you want in the Measure command.

  9. You can create other charts using dimensions and measures to build SQL queries visually:

With the CData ODBC Driver for FTP, you get live connectivity to your FTP data, allowing you to build real-time charts, graphs, and more.