A virtual connection is a Tableau content type that provides a sharable central access point to data, and supports row-level security at the connection level. Creating a virtual connection is a multi-step process. This topic covers connecting to the data you want to share and working in the Tables tab of the virtual connection editor.

Connect to data

To create a virtual connection in Tableau Online or Tableau Server:

  1. From the Home or Explore page, click New > Virtual Connection.
  2. In the Connect to Data dialog box, click the connector for your data.
    For a list of supported connectors for virtual connections, see Creators: Connect to Data(Link opens in a new window) in the Tableau Desktop and Web Authoring help.
  3. Choose the connector for your data.
  4. Enter the information you’re prompted for.
    The credentials you enter are saved in the virtual connection, so connection users don't have to enter credentials to connect to the data.
  5. Click Sign In to open the virtual connection editor.

Virtual connections support connecting to one database per connection. For more information about connectors, see Supported Connectors(Link opens in a new window) in the Tableau Desktop and Web Authoring help.

Note: For Tableau Online, virtual connections that connect to private network data use Tableau Bridge to keep data fresh. For information about configuring Tableau Bridge, see Configure and Manage the Bridge Client Pool(Link opens in a new window). For information about supported connections, see Connectivity with Bridge(Link opens in a new window).

Select tables to include in the connection

If tables aren't listed in the left pane of the editor, select a database.

  1. On the left, under Tables, select the tables and click or drag them to the Tables tab on the right. Include an entitlement table, if you're using one.
  2. (Optional) Click New Custom SQL to create a custom table schema.

Note: Virtual connections don't support tables with a spatial data type.

Select table mode: live or extract

At the top of the Tables tab, select a Table Mode. The mode you select applies to all the tables in the virtual connection:

  • Live Only- Tables are queried directly from the database. (Live is the default.)
  • Extracts Only- Tables are extracted and saved to Tableau. Note the following:
    • Click Extract Now to extract the data any time before you publish the virtual connection. You can't edit the connection while extracts are running.
    • You can schedule extract refreshes on the virtual connection page after you publish the connection. For more information, see Schedule Extract Refreshes for a Virtual Connection.
    • When your site is set for encryption at rest, virtual connections don't support extracts. You can either turn off site-wide extract encryption or use Live Only as the Table Mode.

Set the table visibility state

Use the Visibility toggle on the Tables tab to show or hide tables and their data from users.

Check mark means show Users can see table data. You can create a data policy to govern which data users can see. (Visible is the default.)

X means hide Users can’t see table data. You can use hidden tables in a data policy and as an entitlement table.

See table details

Click a table at the top of the Tables tab to see its details below. You can make simple edits in the Table Details section, such as change a table name, hide or rename a column, or change a data type.

Switch the table information you see using these icons:

Tag icon represents column data type. A list of columns in the table and each column's data type.
Table icon represents column sample data. Sample data for each column and linked keys, if available. Linked keys show which columns link to other tables. They're visible only when databases have primary and foreign key information.
Profile icon represents the column value range. The range of values in a histogram for each column selected.

Who can do this

To create a virtual connection, you must

  • have credentials to the database that the virtual connection connects to, and
  • be a server or site administrator, or a Creator.

Next steps

After tables have been added and configured on the Tables tab, you can choose to Create a Data Policy for Row-Level Security or Publish a Virtual Connection and Set Permissions.

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