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Publish REST-Connected Dashboards in Tableau Server

Use the CData Tableau Connector for REST and Tableau Server to visualize live REST 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 REST, you get access to live REST data within Tableau Server. This article shows how to connect to REST in Tableau Desktop, publish a Data Source to Tableau Server, and build a simple chart on that data.

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

Enable Connectivity to REST in Tableau Server

Start by installing the CData Tableau Connector on the machine hosting Tableau Server and on a machine with Tableau Desktop.

  1. On the server machine, copy cdata.rest.taco and cdata.tableau.rest.lic (typically found in C:\Program Files\CData\CData Tableau Connector for REST\lib\
  2. Place the copies in the Tableau Server Connectors folder (C:\ProgramData\Tableau\Tableau Server\data absvc\vizqlserver\Connectors)
  3. Restart Tableau Server

Connect to REST in Tableau Desktop

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

  1. Open Tableau Desktop
  2. Click More under Connect -> To a Server
  3. Select "REST by CData"
  4. Configure the connection and click "Sign In."

See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation to authenticate to your data source: The data provider models REST APIs as bidirectional database tables and XML/JSON files as read-only views (local files, files stored on popular cloud services, and FTP servers). The major authentication schemes are supported, including HTTP Basic, Digest, NTLM, OAuth, and FTP. See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation for authentication guides.

After setting the URI and providing any authentication values, set Format to "XML" or "JSON" and set DataModel to more closely match the data representation to the structure of your data.

The DataModel property is the controlling property over how your data is represented into tables and toggles the following basic configurations.

  • Document (default): Model a top-level, document view of your REST data. The data provider returns nested elements as aggregates of data.
  • FlattenedDocuments: Implicitly join nested documents and their parents into a single table.
  • Relational: Return individual, related tables from hierarchical data. The tables contain a primary key and a foreign key that links to the parent document.

See the Modeling REST Data chapter for more information on configuring the relational representation. You will also find the sample data used in the following examples. The data includes entries for people, the cars they own, and various maintenance services performed on those cars.

Discover Schemas and Query Data

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

  1. Select CData from the Database pull-down menu.
  2. Select REST 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

Visualize REST Data in Tableau Server

With the Data Source published to Tableau Server, you are ready to visualize REST data.

  1. Login to your Tableau Server instance
  2. Select the Project where you published the Data Source
  3. Click the published Data Source
  4. Click New Workbook
  5. In the workbook, REST 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 REST with Tableau Server, you can easily create robust visualizations and reports on REST data. Download a free, 30-day trial and get started today.