Visualize SQL Server Data in Tableau

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SQL Server ODBC Driver

Connect to Microsoft SQL Server-compatible databases from any applications that support ODBC connectivity.

The ODBC Driver offers Direct Mode access to SQL Server through standard Java Database Connectivity, providing extensive compatibility with current and legacy MS SQL versions. Supports secure SQL connectivity and authentication via SSL, Kerberos, Integrated Security, etc.



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

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

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

Connect to SQL Server 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.

Connecting to Microsoft SQL Server

Connect to Microsoft SQL Server using the following properties:

  • Server: The name of the server running SQL Server.
  • User: The username provided for authentication with SQL Server.
  • Password: The password associated with the authenticating user.
  • Database: The name of the SQL Server database.

Connecting to Azure SQL Server and Azure Data Warehouse

You can authenticate to Azure SQL Server or Azure Data Warehouse by setting the following connection properties:

  • Server: The server running Azure. You can find this by logging into the Azure portal and navigating to "SQL databases" (or "SQL data warehouses") -> "Select your database" -> "Overview" -> "Server name."
  • User: The name of the user authenticating to Azure.
  • Password: The password associated with the authenticating user.
  • Database: The name of the database, as seen in the Azure portal on the SQL databases (or SQL warehouses) page.

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 SQL Server Data to a Dashboard

  1. Click Connect to Data -> More Servers -> Other Databases (ODBC).
    Select the CData Data Source Name (for example: CData SQL 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 Orders 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 ShipName 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 Freight column in the Measures field onto the Detail and Color buttons. Tableau executes the following query:

    SELECT ShipName, SUM(Freight) FROM Orders GROUP BY ShipName

    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 Freight 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 SQL Server, you get live connectivity to your SQL Server data, allowing you to build real-time charts, graphs, and more.