Publish a Flow to Tableau Server or Tableau Online

Important: Starting in version 2020.4.1, the Data Management Add-on is no longer required to publish your flows to Tableau Server or Tableau Online. It is only required if you plan to run your flows on a schedule.

Publish your flows to Tableau Server or Tableau Online to automatically run them on a schedule and refresh the flow output using Tableau Prep Conductor. You can also manually run individual flows on the server. Flows created or edited on the web (version 2020.4.1 and later) must first be published before they can be run.

Before you publish

To make sure that you can run your flow, check the following:

  1. Verify that there are no errors in the flow.

    Flows that contain errors will fail when you try to run them in Tableau Server or Tableau Online. Errors in the flow are identified by a red exclamation mark and a red dot with an Errors indicator in the upper right corner of the canvas.

  2. Verify that your flow doesn't include input connectors or features that aren't compatible with your version of Tableau Server. Tableau Online should always be running the most current version. Flows created on the web are always compatible with the server version they are created on.

    You can still publish flows from Tableau Prep Builder that include connectors or features that aren't yet supported in your version of Tableau Server, but you can't schedule them to run.

    For example, the SAP HANA connector was introduced in Tableau Prep Builder version 2019.1.4 but this connector isn't supported until Tableau Server version 2019.2 for Tableau Prep Conductor. When you publish the flow, you would see a message like the example below.

    Note: To schedule flows to run on Tableau Server, you must be using Tableau Server version 2019.1 or later and Tableau Prep Conductor must be enabled.

    To run your flow in Tableau Server, you need to take the appropriate actions to make the flow compatible. For more information about working with incompatible flows, see Version Compatibility with Tableau Prep(Link opens in a new window).

  3. Flows that include input or output steps with connections to a network share require safe listing. Tableau Online doesn't support this option and files must be packaged with the flow on publish.

    Note: Currently, flows that are created on the web can only output to a published data source or a database.

    For Tableau Prep Builder:

    Flow input and output steps that point to files stored in a network share (UNC path) aren’t permitted unless the file and path is accessible by the server and are included in your organization's safe list. If you publish the flow without adding the file location to your safe list, the flow will publish, but you will get an error when you try and schedule or run the flow in Tableau Server.

    If the files aren't stored in a safe listed location, you will see a warning message when you publish the flow.

    Click the "list" link in the message to see a list of allowed locations. Move your files to one of the locations in the list, and make sure that your flow points to these new locations.

    In Tableau Server, to configure the allowed network paths, use the tsm command options described in Step 4: Safe list Input and Output locations(Link opens in a new window).

    If you don't want to move your files to a safe listed location, you will need to package the input files with the flow and publish the flow output to Tableau Server as a published data source. For more information about setting these options, see Publish a flow from Tableau Prep Builder in this topic.

  4. (Tableau Prep Builder only) If your flow output steps are set to Publish as a data source, all flow output steps must point to the same server or site where the flow is published. They can point to different projects on that server or site, but only one server or site can be selected.

    To set the publishing location for your output steps, do the following:

    1. In the flow pane, select the output step.

    2. In the publishing pane, select Publish as a data source.

    3. Select the server or site and the project where you want to publish the flow. Sign in to the server or site if needed.

    4. Enter a name and description for each output.

      The output file name should be distinctive enough so that the person running the flow can easily identify which output files to refresh. The file name shows on the Overview and Connectionspage for the flow in Tableau Server or Tableau Online.

    5. Save your flow.

      For more information about how to configure output steps for publishing, see Create data extract files and published data sources.

Run your flow

To generate your flow output you need to run your flow. When you run your flow, all of your data (not just the data sample you might be working with) will be run through your flow steps. All of your cleaning operations are applied to your full data set, resulting in a tidy, clean data set that you can now use to analyze your data.

In Tableau Prep Builder and on the web, you can run your flows manually at any time. Flows on the web must be published to run.

You can also run your flow from the command line or you can run flows that are published on the server automatically using a schedule. To schedule your flow runs, your server must include the Data Management Add-on with Tableau Prep Conductor enabled. For more information about Tableau Prep Conductor, see About Tableau Prep Conductor.

For information about running flows from the command line, see Refresh flow output files from the command line(Link opens in a new window). For information about adding your flow to a schedule, see Schedule a Flow Task.

Run flows manually

When you run flows manually, you can run one flow at a time. You can run the whole flow or run the flow for a selected output.

If running flows in web authoring (version 2020.4.1 and later) the flow must be published to the server to run it, and you can't run another flow until the first flow is finished, even from a separate tab.

In Tableau Online, the number of flow runs you can perform in a day is also limited by the site administrator. For more information, see Tableau Online Site Capacity(Link opens in a new window) in the Tableau Online help.

  1. In Tableau Prep Builder or on your server, open your flow.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • From the top menu, click Run to run the entire flow, or click the drop down arrow to select a flow output in the list.

    • On the server, from the Explore page, right-click or Cmd-click (MacOS) More actions and select Run Now from the menu. This will run your entire flow.

    • Click on an Output step in your flow, then in the Output pane, click Run Flow.

      If the flow isn't open on the web you will need to click Edit Flow to open your flow in editing mode, then either click Publish to publish the flow, or accept the prompt to publish the flow, then click Run Flow.

Publish a flow from Tableau Prep Builder

Note: When you publish a flow that includes a published data source as an input, the publisher is assigned as the default flow owner. When the flow runs, it uses the flow owner for the Run As account. For more information about the Run As account, see Run As Service Account(Link opens in a new window). Only the Site or Server Administrator can change the flow owner in Tableau Server or Tableau Online.

  1. Open your flow in Tableau Prep Builder.

  2. From the top menu select Server > Publish Flow.

  3. Complete the fields for your platform. Then click Publish. Tableau Server or Tableau Online opens automatically in your default browser on the flow Overview page.

  1. In the Publish to Tableau Server dialog, complete the following fields:
    • Project: Click the drop-down option to select your project from the project hierarchy. This should be the same project that the output files are published to.
    • Name: Enter a name for your flow. This name shows on the server on the Flow pages. If you want to overwrite an existing flow, click the drop-down option to select a name from the list.
    • Description (optional): Enter a description for the flow.
    • Tags (optional): Click Add to type in one or more tags to identify your flow so users can easily find it. Tags can also be added after publishing in the Flow pages in Tableau Server.
  2. Click Edit in the Connections section to edit connections settings or change authentication.

    Files

    By default, file input connections are packaged with the flow. Packaged files aren't refreshed when the flow is run in Tableau Server. All files must have the same setting, either Upload or Direct Connection.

    • To retrieve the most current data when refreshing the output files, select Direct Connection if Tableau Server can connect to the file location and the location is included in your organization's safe list.

    • If your input or output steps point to files stored in a network share (UNC path) and the location isn't included in your organization's safe list, you will see a warning message. Click the link in the message to see a list of safe listed locations, move your files and point your input and output steps to the new file location. For more information, see Step 3 in Before you publish

    • For information about how to add locations to your organization's safe list, see Step 4: Safe list Input and Output locations(Link opens in a new window).

    Databases

    If your flow connects to one or more databases, select one of the following authentication types to use to connect to the flow input data sources.

    • Server Run As Account: The server’s Run As User account will authenticate all users.

    • Prompt User: You must edit the connection in Tableau Server and enter the database credentials before running the flow.
    • Embedded Password: The credentials you used to connect to the data will be saved with the connection and used by everyone who accesses the flow you publish.

    • Add credentials: (version 2020.1.1 and later) If you connect to cloud connectors, you can add your credentials directly from the Publish Flow dialog to embed them in the flow. To add credentials, do the following:
      • Click Edit in the Connections section, or click Edit credentials from the warning message. Then click Add credentials from the Authentication drop-down menu.

      • In the confirmation dialog, click Continue. Tableau Prep Builder automatically opens the Account Settings page for the server you are signed into.

      • Add your credentials, then navigate back to Tableau Prep Builder.

      • In the Finish adding credentials dialog, click Done.

      • Click Edit in the Connections section and verify that your credentials were added and embedded in your flow.

  1. In the Publish to Tableau Online dialog, complete the following fields:
    • Project: Click the drop-down option to select your project from the project hierarchy. This should be the same project that the output files are published to.
    • Name: Enter a name for your flow. This name shows on the server on the Flow pages. If you want to overwrite an existing flow, click the drop-down option to select a name from the list.
    • Description (optional): Enter a description for the flow.
    • Tags (optional): Click Add to type in one or more tags to identify your flow so users can easily find it. Tags can also be added after publishing in the Flow pages in Tableau Server.
  2. Click Edit in the Connections section to edit connections settings or change authentication.

    Files

    Tableau Online doesn't support direct file connections for input step data and you must package your files with the flow. Packaged files aren't refreshed when the flow is run in Tableau Online.

    Databases

    To keep data fresh when publishing flows to Tableau Online, you can only connect directly to cloud-hosted data sources. When connecting to on-premises data sources, you must convert the data sources to a published data source and Tableau Online can use a Tableau Bridge client to connect to your data if Tableau Bridge is configured for the data source.

    For more information about direct connections supported by Tableau Online, see Allow Direct Connections to Data Hosted on a Cloud Platform(Link opens in a new window).

    For more information about using a Tableau Bridge, see Allow your Publishers to Maintain Live Connections to On Premises Data(Link opens in a new window).

    If your flow connects to a cloud-based data source that supports a direct connection, select one of the following authentication types to use to connect to the flow input data sources.

    • Prompt User: You must edit the connection in Tableau Online and enter the database credentials before running the flow.

    • Embedded Password: The credentials you used to connect to the data will be saved with the connection and used by everyone who accesses the flow you publish.

    • Select the Publish Data Source radio button for on-premises data sources. Tableau Online can't connect directly to these data sources to refresh your data. Selecting this option converts the data source input connection to a published data source when you publish the flow to Tableau Online.
    • If Tableau Bridge is configured for the data source and the data source is supported by Tableau Online, the data can be refreshed when the flow is run. See Allow Direct Connections to Data Hosted on a Cloud Platform(Link opens in a new window) for more information.

    • To replace the on-premises data source connections for the flow in Tableau Prep Builder with the published data source, select Update flow inputs to use published data sources in the More options section before publishing your flow.
    • If you don't select the check box, the flow in Tableau Prep Builder remains connected to the local on-premises data source and the flow in Tableau Prep Builder can become out of sync with the published version of the flow. To continue working with your flow, you would need to download the flow from Tableau Online to edit it, then republish it.

    • Add credentials: (version 2020.1.1 and later) If you connect to cloud connectors, you can add your credentials directly from the Publish Flow dialog to embed them in the flow. To add credentials, do the following:
      • Click Edit in the Connections section, or click Edit credentials from the warning message. Then click Add credentials from the Authentication drop-down menu.

      • In the confirmation dialog, click Continue. Tableau Prep Builder automatically opens the Account Settings page for the server you are signed into.

      • Add your credentials, then navigate back to Tableau Prep Builder.

      • In the Finish adding credentials dialog, click Done.

      • Click Edit in the Connections section and verify that your credentials were added and embedded in your flow.

Publish a flow in web authoring

Whether you create a flow from scratch on the web or edit an existing flow, before you can run the flow you'll need to publish it.

  • You can only publish draft flows to the same server you are signed into.
  • You can publish a draft to a different project using the File menu and selecting Publish As.
  • You can embed credentials for your flow's database connections to enable the flow to run without having to manually enter the credentials when the flow runs.

For more information about the differences when working with flows on the web, see Tableau Prep on the Web.

Embed credentials

Embedding credentials only applies to running flows. Currently, you will manually need to enter your credentials when editing a flow connected to a database. Embedding credentials can only be set at the flow level and not at the server or site level.

Do one of the following:

  • From the top menu, select File > Connection Credentials > Embed in Published Flow.

  • When publishing a flow, select the Embed credentials check box. This option shows when you select Publish As to publish the flow to a new project for the first time or when you are editing a flow that was last published by someone else.

Publish a flow

When you publish your flow, it becomes the current version of the flow and can be run and seen by others who have access to your project. Flows that are never published or flow changes that you make to a draft can only be seen by you until you publish the flow. For more information about flow statuses, see Automatically save your flows on the web (version 2020.4 and later).

To publish your flow, do one of the following:

  • From the top menu, select File > Publish or File > Publish As

  • From the top bar, click the Publish button or click the drop arrow to select Publish As.

Who can do this

Server Administrator, Site Administrator Creator, and Creator allow full connecting and publishing access.

Creator can perform web authoring tasks.

Explorer (can publish) and Site Administrator Explorer have limited publishing capabilities, as described in the following topics:

Tableau Server:

Tableau Online: General capabilities allowed with each site role.(Link opens in a new window)

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