Ideally, everybody in an organisation can run the same version of Tableau Desktop or Tableau Server, but that's not always possible. In a large organisation, different individuals or groups might need to use different versions of Tableau products.
This article describes compatibility considerations and how Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server can work together.
Note: This article discusses only Tableau products that are still eligible for technical support. Tableau provides technical support on each version of the product for 30 months after release. For a list of versions and their support schedules, see the Support Services(Link opens in a new window) page on the Tableau website.
Compatibility issues typically arise only between release versions of Tableau products. For example, if you are using Tableau Desktop 2021.4 and others are using Tableau Desktop 2021.3, or if you need to publish to Tableau Server and it is still running version 2020.1, you can encounter compatibility issues.
To identify which version of the product you are using, with Tableau Desktop open:
Select Help >About Tableau from the top menu.
Select Tableau >About Tableau from the top menu.
The About Tableau dialog opens and the version number is displayed at the top of the dialog. The version number includes the release number and any maintenance release version number if applicable.
In this example "2021.4" = the release version and ".0" = the maintenance release version of the product.
Note: Tableau Prep Builder doesn't follow this same naming model as Tableau Desktop for its release numbers. Tableau Prep Builder release versions are numbered the sames as Tableau Desktop maintenance versions, for example 2020.4.1. Tableau Prep Builder doesn't release maintenance versions of the product.
Release versions often include a range of new features and updates. If you try and publish your updated workbook to a prior version of Tableau Server, where those features aren't available, the workbook becomes incompatible.
There are no compatibility issues with maintenance (or dot) release versions – for example, between Tableau Desktop version 2021.2.1 and Tableau Desktop 2021.2.3 or Tableau Desktop 2020.3.2 and Tableau Server version 2020.3.7.
There is one exception. Tableau sometimes introduces new connector support with a maintenance release. This can introduce compatibility issues between Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server if Tableau Desktop has been upgraded but Tableau Server hasn't been.
For details about data source support by release, see the Release Notes(Link opens in a new window) page.
Tableau Desktop users can share workbooks – for example, by emailing them or copying them to a location on the company network. But if two users are using different versions of Tableau Desktop, sharing isn't always possible. The rule is simple:
A newer version of Tableau Desktop can open a workbook created with an older version.
An older version of Tableau Desktop can't open a workbook created with a newer version.
For example, suppose Amanda creates a Tableau workbook with version 2020.3 of Tableau Desktop and sends it to Zachary, who has version 2021.3 of Tableau Desktop. Zachary will be able to open that workbook, but he'll see this warning message:
The workbook will be upgraded when it is saved. The upgraded file can't be read by earlier versions of the application.
If Zachary edits and saves the workbook and sends it back to Amanda, he will need to downgrade the workbook first so that she can open it. If not, the load will fail when Amanda tries to open it in Tableau Desktop version 2020.3, because the workbook is now a 2021.3 workbook.
For more information about downgrading your workbook between Tableau Desktop versions, see Downgrade your workbook in this article.
Working with Tableau extracts
The same logic applies to Tableau extracts. A newer version of Tableau Desktop can open an extract created with an older version but an older version of Tableau Desktop can't open an extract created with a newer version.
However, if you create a .tde extract in an older version and open the workbook in Tableau Desktop 10.5 and later and refresh (full or incremental) or append to the extract, it will be converted to the .hyper format and the workbook will become incompatible with older versions of Tableau.
Note: Starting in version 2020.3, Tableau Data Extract (.tde) files are no longer supported and should be converted to a .hyper format.
For more information about the .hyper extract format, see Extract Upgrade to .hyper Format(Link opens in a new window). For more information about how to downgrade your workbooks to prior versions, see Downgrade your workbook in this article.
A workbook created with any version of Tableau Desktop can connect to any supported version of Tableau Server. But once you are connected, compatibility can be an issue depending on the version you are using and the action you're performing.
You can publish workbooks and data sources to Tableau Server if the version of Tableau Server is the same or newer than the version of Tableau Desktop. For example, you can publish workbooks and data sources from Tableau Desktop 2020.2 to Tableau Server 2020.2, Tableau Server 2020.3 or Tableau Server 2020.4.
But if Tableau Server is running an earlier versions than Tableau Desktop, you will be prompted to downgrade the workbook before you can publish it to Tableau Server. For example, you can downgrade a workbook created on Tableau Desktop version 2020.3 to publish it to Tableau Server version 2019.3. For more information about how to downgrade your workbook, see Downgrade your workbook in this article.
A workbook downloaded from Tableau Server has the same version as the version of Tableau where it was last edited. For example, suppose Amanda is running Tableau Desktop 2020.2 and publishes a workbook to Tableau Server 2020.3. If Zachary is also running Tableau Desktop 2020.2, he can connect to Tableau Server, download the workbook and open it.
However, there are some scenarios where compatibility issues can arise:
If someone else edits and saves the workbook on the server, the workbook is updated to that version of Tableau Server.
If someone downloads the workbook from Tableau Server to a newer version of Tableau Desktop and edits, saves and publishes it, the workbook is updated to the newer version of Tableau Desktop.
For example, suppose Elizabeth publishes a workbook from Tableau Desktop 2021.2 to Tableau Server 2021.3. Ted downloads the workbook from Tableau Server to Tableau Desktop 2021.3. He edits and republishes the workbook back to the server. The workbook is now updated to the newer version. Zachary and Elizabeth, who are both using Tableau Desktop 2021.2 can download the workbook but can't open it because the workbook has been updated to Tableau version 2021.3.
If using Tableau Server version 10.5 and later, published extracts that were created using Tableau Desktop 10.4 and earlier (that is, the extract uses a .tde file format) are automatically upgraded to the .hyper format when they are refreshed (full or incremental) or appended to. If this happens, the workbook can no longer be opened using previous versions of Tableau Desktop. For more information about the .hyper extract format, see Extract Upgrade to .hyper Format(Link opens in a new window).
For previous versions of Tableau Server, any published workbook or data source with an extract created in Tableau Desktop retains its original version when it's refreshed or appended to on Tableau Server.
Workbooks in Tableau Desktop can use data sources that have been published to later versions of Tableau Server. However, if you connect to a data source that uses features that aren't in that earlier version of Tableau Desktop, those fields are unavailable.
Workbooks created in Tableau Desktop can always use data sources from an earlier version of Tableau Server. For example, a Tableau Desktop 2020.3 workbook can use data sources from Tableau Server 2019.1.
If you need to publish your workbook to an earlier version of Tableau Server or share your workbook with someone using an earlier version of Tableau Desktop, you can downgrade your workbook to a previous version. The downgraded workbook can be opened in the selected version and later.
Tableau only supports downloading product versions for 24 months after release. Versions older than 24 months have reached their End of Life and are no longer provided.
Export workbook to previous version
You can export your workbook to a different version of Tableau using File > Export As Version in Tableau Desktop, or select Download > Tableau Workbook in the toolbar of a workbook in Tableau Online or Tableau Server. For more information, see Export Views and Workbooks.
Downgrade workbook for Tableau Server
If you are using a newer version of Tableau Desktop and an older version of Tableau Server, you can downgrade the workbook to the older Tableau Server version during publishing.
When you publish the workbook, you will see a warning message that tells you that the workbook will be downgraded.
If you continue to publish the workbook, any features or functionality that aren't available in the older version are removed for compatibility. You may need to add back the features that were removed when the workbook was downgraded.
Note: This option doesn't apply to data sources.