Publish SQL Server-Connected Dashboards in Tableau Server

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SQL Server Tableau Connector

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



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

Enable Connectivity to SQL Server in Tableau Server

NOTE: The Other (JDBC) method for connecting will only be supported until Tableau fixes some known issues with Tableau Server. There will be a connector update that will disable use via Other (JDBC).

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

If your server is a Linux Machine:

  1. Copy cdata.sql.taco and cdata.tableau.sql.lic.
  2. Place the copies in the Tableau Server Connectors folder (/opt/tableau/tableau_driver/jdbc).
  3. Restart Tableau Server.

If your server is a Windows Machine:

  1. Copy cdata.tableau.sql.lic. (typically found in C:\Program Files\CData\CData Tableau Connector for SQL Server\lib\) .
  2. Place the copy in the Tableau Server drivers directory (C:\ Program Files\Tableau\Drivers).
  3. 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 SQL Server in Tableau Desktop

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

  1. Open Tableau Desktop.
  2. Click More under Connect -> To a Server.
  3. Select "Other Databases (JDBC)".
  4. Configure the connection to the data. The connector comes with a connection string builder that streamlines creating and managing the content of connection strings. Note that you will need to manually add "jdbc.sql" to the beginning of the connection string.
  5. Click "Sign In".

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.

Discover Schemas and Query Data

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

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

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