Fundamentals of the Tableau Server REST API

Tableau Server provides an application programming interface (API) that lets you programmatically manage users, workbooks, data connections, and other resources on the server. By using the API, you can create users or import them from Active Directory, publish workbooks, create, view, and delete data sources, and perform other actions on the server.

Using the API, you can perform many of the tasks that you can do using tabcmd. However, the REST API methods provide more granular control over your interaction with the server. You can think of them as a set of programmatic blocks that you can use to put together complex operations that chain the output of one operation to the input of the next one, and that might involve conditions and other scenarios that are best addressed in programming logic.

About the REST API

The Tableau Server REST API is based on the principles of REST (representational state transfer) protocol for client-server communication. In Tableau Server, the client-server communication occurs over HTTP, using standard web requests.

In REST, resources are identified in a consistent way using a URI (uniform resource identifier). Actions are expressed using standard verbs like GET and POST. The client passes all necessary information to the server for each action—that is, the server does not have to maintain any state about the client. For more information about REST principles and architecture, see A Brief Introduction to REST.

Note: As a security measure, you should make API calls to Tableau Server using the HTTPS protocol (SSL/TLS). See Using HTTPS (SSL/TLS) for API Calls.

Using HTTP Verbs to Request Server Actions

When you work with the Tableau Server REST API, you use the following HTTP verbs to request actions from the server:

  • GET to read information, such as getting a list of users or downloading a workbook.
  • POST to create or publish new resources, such as sites, users, workbooks, and data sources.
  • PUT to update existing resources, such as updating a user’s password, updating permissions, or changing a workbook owner.
  • DELETE to remove a resource, such as deleting a user, or workbook. This verb can also dissociate a resource from a collection—for example, you can use the DELETE verb to remove a user from a site, which dissociates the user from collection of users on the site, but doesn't remove the user from the server.

Using URIs to Specify Resources

The HTTP verb indicates the type of operation you want to perform on a resource. You indicate what resource to work with by making requests using a URI. The URI specifies the site, project, workbook, user, or other resource that you are creating, viewing, or deleting. For example, to get a list of the users in a specific group, you send a GET request that has the following format:

https://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/groups/group-id/users

In this URI, your-server is the name or IP address for your Tableau Server installation. The site-id value is an identifier for the site, and group-id is an ID for the group.

If you want to use the REST API with Tableau Online, see Specifying Resources on Tableau Online.

Note: IDs for the site, groups, and other resources consist of locally unique IDs (LUIDs) that contain 16 hexadecimal values in the following format: 9a8b7c6d5-e4f3-a2b1-c0d9-e8f7a6b5c4d. For more information, see Identifying Resources Using Locally Unique Identifiers (LUIDs).

In the previous example, you used a GET request because you were reading resources from the server. To delete a workbook, you would send a DELETE request that has this form:

https://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/workbooks/workbook-id

As in the previous example, you substitute your own values for your-server and site-id. In this case, for workbook-id, you would include the unique identifier for the workbook you want to delete.

The URI specifies a hierarchy for the resource. To get users in a group, you use a URI that includes sites and the site ID, and then groups and the group within that site, and finally users to indicate that you want users from the specified group. In the URI for deleting a workbook, you specify sites plus the site ID, then workbooks plus the ID of the workbook to delete.

You reference other resources in a similar way. The following URI specifies an individual project on the site:

https://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/projects/project-id

This example URI specifies an individual data source on the site:

http://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/datasources/datasource-id

And this URI references the preview image for an individual view within a specific workbook on the site:

https://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/workbooks/workbook-id/views/view-id/previewImage

Notice in these examples that the URI itself does not contain information about the operation to perform—for example, when you want to delete a workbook, there’s nothing in the URI that includes a term like “delete” or “remove.” The action is specified only by the HTTP verb that you use when you make the request (DELETE); the URI indicates only the resource on which the action should take place.

Specifying Resources on Tableau Online

For scalability and reliability, the Tableau Online infrastructure extends over multiple server instances. In this environment, each site is assigned to a distinct instance (or pod). When you sign in using online.tableau.com, the site redirects you to the instance where your site resides. You will see the redirect reflected in the URL shown in the browser’s address bar. For example, instead of online.tableau.com, it might show the following address:

https://10ay.online.tableau.com

When you make REST API calls to Tableau Online, rather than using online.tableau.com, you need to use the URL for the instance on which your site exists.

The following URI specifies an individual project on a site on the 10ay instance:

https://10ay.online.tableau.com/api/3.8/sites/site-id/projects/project-id

Request Limits on Tableau Online

Requests for extract refreshes and scheduled tasks have limits to how frequently they can be used, with quotas that are refreshed periodically (one or more times per day). If you encounter the errors shown below, your request has hit these limits, and you will need to try again later:

Unknown 429

And

ApiCallError: 429000: Too Many Requests

Using JSON with the REST API

The REST API documentation provides most syntax examples in XML. To use the REST API with JSON, you can convert the syntax examples included in the REST API documentation to JSON using the same JSON parser used by the REST API: the open-source Jackson Project JSON Parser (previously known as “JSON for Java”). You can install the Jackson Project JSON Parser on a laptop or other computer and use that to convert the XML syntax provided in the REST API documentation to JSON, so there is no need to install this parser on the same server where Tableau Server is installed. To install and use the Jackson Project JSON Parser, see the Jackson Project on GitHub.

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Sending Information for New and Updated Resources (POST and PUT)

You create new resources by sending a POST request, and you update existing ones by sending a PUT request. You include the information for the operation in the body of the request, sometimes referred to as the payload or simply the data.

Note: For POST and PUT requests, the request should include the Content-Length and Content-Type headers. The request can be in XML or JSON. For more information, see Passing MIME Type and Authentication Information in the Header.

For example, to create a user on a site, you send a POST request using a URI in the following format:

https://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/users/

 

The information for the new user can be placed in the body of the request block. The request block can be in either XML or JSON. By default, the Content-Type is (text/xml). If you use XML, the block must have root element called <tsRequest>. The body of the XML request might look like the following:

<tsRequest>
  <user name="Bob"
    siteRole="Viewer" />
</tsRequest>

 

If you set the Content-Type to JSON (application/json), the request block might look like the following:

{
    "user": {
       "name": "Bob",
       "siteRole":  "Viewer"
    }
}

 

The siteRole value is the role you want the new user to have, such as Viewer, Publisher, or Interactor. In response to the POST request to create a user, Tableau Server returns the response that includes the user-id assigned to the new user.

To update a user, you make a PUT request and use a URI like the following to update the user with the specific user-id:

http://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/users/user-id

In XML, the body of the request might look like this:

<tsRequest>
 <user fullName="Adam Davis"
    email="adamd@example.com"
    password="passw0rd" />
</tsRequest>

Or like the following in JSON:

{
    "user": {
      "fullName": "Adam Davis",
      "email":    "adamd@example.com",
      "password": "passw0rd"
    }
}

 

The XML and JSON requests and responses follow a schema. You can use the XML schema to generate classes that you can use when programming. For more information, see REST API XML Schema.

Passing MIME Type and Authentication Information in the Header

Some information for a request is passed using the request header. This includes the content length, MIME-type information, and authentication information.

  • All POST and PUT requests should include the Content-Length header, which indicates the length of the request body.

  • All POST and PUT requests should include a Content-Type header that indicates the MIME type of the data in the request body. For most POST and PUT requests, this should be text/xml or application/xml for XML and application/json for JSON. If not specified, the default is text/xml. If the Accept header is specified, it must match the Content-Type; use application/json or application/xml. (Setting the Content-Type heading to an incorrect type, such as application/x-www-form-urlencoded, can result in unexpected corruption of your posted data.)

    For publish requests like Publish Datasource and Publish Workbook, the Content-Type header is set to multipart/mixed; boundary=boundary-string, where boundary-string is a string that is used to separate parts of the request body. For more information, see Publishing Resources.

  • To specify whether you want the response in XML or JSON, set the Accept header. By default, the response matches the Content-Type. If the Accept header and Content-Type are not specified, the default is text/xml and application/xml.

  • All requests except the initial Sign In request must include an authentication token in the X-Tableau-Auth header. For more information about signing in and authentication, see Signing In and Signing Out (Authentication).

The documentation for individual methods discusses any additional headers you need to set for that call.

For examples of requests, including headers and request body information, see REST API Example Requests.

Enabling CORS on Tableau Server for the REST API

For security, most web browsers restrict HTTP requests to the same origin. That is, to access a resource on a server through an API, the request must come from the same origin (server), or a proxy must be set up to handle the request.

Tableau Server now supports Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS), so you can do away with your proxy and call the REST API from the browser. The CORS mechanism is currently only enabled for Tableau Server, and can be turned on by server administrators in a couple of steps using the TSM command-line tool. To learn more, see the description of the vizportal.rest_api.cors.allow_origin option in tsm configuration set Options. As a security measure, you should make API calls to Tableau Server using the HTTPS protocol (SSL or TLS). See Using HTTPS (SSL/TLS) for API Calls.

  1. Add the origins that need access to the Tableau Server.

    Determine the origins (servers) you want to allow access to the REST API, and use the tsm configuration set command with the vizportal.rest_api.cors.allow_origin option. For example, to grant access to one two origins, https://mysite and https://yoursite, you would stop the server (tsm stop) and then use the following command:

    tsm configuration set -k vizportal.rest_api.cors.allow_origin -v https://mysite,https://yoursite

    You can enter multiple origins. Use a comma to separate the entries.

    Note: You could also use an asterisk (*) as a wild card to match all sites. This is not recommended as it allows access from any origin that has access to the server and could present a security risk. Do not use an asterisk (*) unless you fully understand the implications and risks for your site.

  2. Enable CORS on Tableau Server.

    Use the tsm configuration set command with the vizportal.rest_api.cors.enabled option. The default setting is false, so set this to true as follows:

    tsm configuration set -k vizportal.rest_api.cors.enabled -v true
  3. Update your Tableau Server configuration (tsm pending-changes apply)  to restart Tableau Server and make the changes take effect.  Only the origins you specify will have access.

    For information about CORS, see https://www.w3.org/TR/cors/.

Passing Additional Information in the Query String

For some calls, you pass parameters using the query string. These parameters indicate processing instructions for the request, as distinct from data. One example is the overwrite query string parameter that you can include when you publish a workbook, to indicate that Tableau should overwrite any existing workbook. Another example is pagination instructions. The following example shows the URI for a GET request to list all the sites on the server. The parameters in the query string specify that the request should return elements 51 through 100.

https://my-server/api/3.8/sites?pageSize=50&pageNumber=2

Some methods also let you pass parameters in the query string that let you filter the results to return. For example, when you call Get Users on Site, you can add the filter parameter and a filter expression like the following to the URI in order to return only users whose site role is Viewer:

https://MY-SERVER/api/3.8/sites/9a8b7c6d-5e4f-3a2b-1c0d-9e8f7a6b5c4d/users?filter=siteRole:eq:Viewer

For some methods, you can also add the sort parameter and a sort expression to the query string, as in this example:

https://MY-SERVER/api/3.8/sites/9a8b7c6d-5e4f-3a2b-1c0d-9e8f7a6b5c4d/users?sort=name:desc

For some methods, you can add the fieldsparameter to qualify the results by the fields and resources you are interested in. For example, when you call Query Workbooks for Site, you can add the fields parameter and a field expression to return just the id and name of all the workbooks: 

https://localhost/api/2.5/sites/1a10f5b9-029b-43e4-a620-773d1690338c/workbooks?fields=id,name

 

For more information, see Filtering and Sorting in the Tableau REST API and Using Fields in the REST API.

Getting Results from the Server

Tableau Server sends a response to each REST API request. The response includes a standard HTTP status code, such as 200 (OK) or 201 (Created). For most requests, the server returns a response body as you specify in the Acceptor Content-Type header as either JSON or XML. In XML, the root element is <tsResponse>.

(The exception is DELETE requests. These do not return a response body. The HTTP status code for successful DELETE operations is 204 (No Content), because there is nothing to return.)

For example, to get a list of projects for a site, you make a GET request using a URI with the following format:

https://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/projects

The body of the response includes the list of projects. It might look like the following XML example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<tsResponse version-and-namespace-settings >
  <pagination pageNumber="1" pageSize="100"
     totalAvailable="16" />
  <projects>
    <project id="project-id" name="SampleProject"
       description="This is a test project" />
    <project id="project-id" name="MarketingProject"
       description="Contains resources used by the Marketing department" />
    ... more projects ...
  </projects>
</tsResponse>

The response body is an XML block. The <tsResponse> element includes attributes that specify the XML namespace for the elements, and the location of the XML schema that defines the structure for the XML block. (For an introduction to XML namespaces, see Understanding XML Namespaces in MSDN Magazine.)

Following these declarations, the <projects> element contains a collection of <project> elements. Each one includes information about an individual project.

This response also includes a <pagination> element that is useful if the number of projects is large and you need to make multiple requests to get successive pages of project information. For more information about paginating results, see Paginating Results.

When you create or update a resource, the body of the response lists the new or updated state of the affected resource. For example, to create a new project, you make a POST request using a URI with the following format:

https://your-server/api/3.8/sites/site-id/projects

The body of the request contains the XML that defines the new project values.

 

In XML:

<tsRequest>
  <project name="SampleProject"
   description="This is a new description of the test project" />
</tsRequest>

 

In JSON:

{
    "project": {
       "name": "SampleProject",
       "description": "This is a new description of a test project"
    }
}

 

If the request is successful, the response body includes a block that describes the new project.

In XML:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<tsResponse version-and-namespace-settings >
  <project id="1f2f3e4e5-d6d7-c8c9-b0b1-a2a3f4f5e6e"
    name="SampleProject"
    description="This is a new description of the test project" />
</tsResponse>

 

In JSON:

{
  "project": {
     "id": "1f2f3e4e5-d6d7-c8c9-b0b1-a2a3f4f5e6e",
     "name": "SampleProject",
     "description": "This is a new description of a test project",
     "contentPermissions": "ManagedByOwner"
  }
}

Notice that the response body echoes some of the information that you sent in the request body. The server is returning state information about the project to the client, including both the information you originally sent (name and description) and new information (the ID that was generated for the new project). Having the original request information echoed in the response makes it easier to use that information as input into a subsequent request (that is, to chain requests), because you don’t have to save this information in your application between calls.


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