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 Cloud or Tableau Server:

  1. From the Home or Explore page, click New > Virtual Connection.
  2. In the Connect to Data dialog box, select 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. 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.
  4. Click Sign In if prompted. To add another connection, click The add a connection plus sign in the virtual connection editor and select a connector, enter credentials, and sign in.

A virtual connection can have multiple connections. Each connection accesses one database or file.

Note: For Tableau Cloud, 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).

Add another connection

As needed, add another connection to a virtual connection and connect to more than one database by clicking The add a connection plus sign in the virtual connection editor next to Connections. You can add a connection to a different server or database, or to the same server or database.

With multiple connections, you can:

  • Use a table from any connection or database as an entitlement table in a data policy that secures tables from other connections and databases. Then write policy statements on a table that refer to the entitlement table from a different database.
  • Add or replace tables in a virtual connection with tables from a different database. For example, say you migrate data from one database to another. In the virtual connection editor, you can add a connection to the second database and replace the existing tables from the first database with tables from the second one.
  • Add multiple connections to the same server or database. This can be helpful when you need to for example access data from the same database but with different credentials.
  • Share a group of tables that are related or meant to be used together, no matter where they’re physically located. For example, from multiple databases you can group together tables related to employee information.

When you open a virtual connection to edit it, if prompted you must authenticate connections in sequence. If any connections fail to authenticate, you can’t edit the virtual connection.

Select tables to include in the connection

If necessary, select a database to view the tables in it.

  1. On the left, under Tables, select the tables and click or drag them to the Tables tab on the right. You can include tables from different connections. 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.

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.

Refresh data from the database

Click the refresh icon The refresh icon on the virtual connection editor toolbar in the toolbar to get the latest data from the database for all the connections in a virtual connection, including:

  • The lists of databases, tables, and columns. Both the tables included in a virtual connection and not included are refreshed.
  • Table and histogram data.

For tables in live mode, refreshing retrieves the latest list of databases, tables, and columns and the most recent table and histogram data. For tables in extract mode, refreshing retrieves the updated list of tables and columns. But to see the most recent table and histogram data, you must start a new extract. For example, when there's a new column in a database table and you click the refresh icon, the new column appears in the editor but its data does not. To see the most current data, you must start a new extract.

Refreshing data invalidates any currently cached data. Closing and reopening the editor, switching tables from extract to live mode, and changing a connection credential like username or password also refreshes data.

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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