Visualize USPS Data in Tableau

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

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

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

Connect to USPS 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 authenticate with USPS, set the following connection properties.

  • PostageProvider: The postage provider to use to process requests. Available options are ENDICIA and STAMPS. If unspecified, this property will default to ENDICIA.
  • UseSandbox: This controls whether live or test requests are sent to the production or sandbox servers. If set to true, the Password, AccountNumber, and StampsUserId properties are ignored.
  • StampsUserId: This value is used for logging into authentication to the Stamps servers. This value is not applicable for Endicia and is optional if UseSandbox is true.
  • Password: This value is used for logging into Endicia and Stamps servers. If the postage provider is Endicia, this will be the pass phrase associated with your postage account. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
  • AccountNumber: The shipper's account number. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
  • PrintLabelLocation: This property is required to use the GenerateLabels or GenerateReturnLabels stored procedures. This should be set to the folder location where generated labels should be stored.

The Cache Database

Many of the useful task available from USPS require a lot of data. To ensure this data is easy to input and recall later, utilize a cache database to make requests. Set the cache connection properties in order to use the cache:

  • CacheLocation: The path to the cache location, for which a connection will be configured with the default cache provider. For example, C:\users\username\documents\uspscache

As an alternative to CacheLocation, set the combination of CacheConnection and CacheProvider to configure a cache connection using a provider separate from the default.

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 USPS Data to a Dashboard

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

    SELECT FirstName, SUM(Phone) FROM Senders GROUP BY FirstName

    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 Phone 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 USPS, you get live connectivity to your USPS data, allowing you to build real-time charts, graphs, and more.