Other Databases (ODBC)

When you start Tableau, under Connect, you can see the file and database types that are supported by Tableau Desktop. Select More to see the complete list. For supported files and databases, Tableau provides built-in connectors that are built for and optimised for those data sources.

Important: If your file or database type is listed under Connect, use that named connector to connect to your data.

If your file or database type is not listed on under Connect, you might be able to connect to it using the Other Databases (ODBC) connector. ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) is a standard way to connect to a database. If the database driver you want to connect with implements the ODBC standard, you can connect Tableau to your data using the ODBC driver for your database and the Tableau Other Databases (ODBC) connector.

Note: Tableau Prep Builder version 2019.2.2 supports connecting to data using the Other Databases ODBC connector. However, it doesn't support the same functionality as Tableau Desktop. For Tableau Prep Builder, follow the instructions in Connecting using ODBC(Link opens in a new window) in the Tableau Prep Builder online help.

Make the connection

To connect to your data using the ODBC driver, do the following:

  1. Start Tableau and under Connect, select Other Databases (ODBC). For a complete list of data connections, select More under To a Server.

  2. Enter the information required to make the connection.

    If table or schema names are not listed, click the search icon or enter the name in the text box and click the search icon, and then select the name.

Note: When you use Other Databases (ODBC) to connect to a database, the outcome may vary and compatibility with Tableau Desktop features is not guaranteed.

If your connection works as you need it to, you can begin your analysis. If, however, you need to customise your ODBC connection to improve functionality and performance, refer to the articles under Other Databases (ODBC).

Configure for publishing and cross-platform portability

When you work with a generic ODBC connection, additional configuration is required to make sure that the workbooks and data sources you create can be used on different computers and platforms.

For publishing and for cross-platform portability:

  • We recommend that you use data source names (DSNs) to accommodate different drivers and configurations between systems.

  • The driver and DSN must be installed and configured to match the workbook or data source connection.

Important: When you set up a DSN, be aware that sensitive data (for example, username and password) is plaintext in the logs and readable by anyone with access to the logs.

As an example, Ashley Garcia creates an Other Databases (ODBC) data source that connects using a DSN for which she has the associated ODBC driver installed on her Windows computer. Here is an example of the data source configuration, including the data source name, that Ashley created:


Ashley can do a couple of things with this data source to make it available for others to use.

  • She can publish it to Tableau Server. When she does this, Ashley needs to ask the Tableau Server administrator to create the same DSN and install the associated ODBC driver on the Tableau Server computer so that the data source can be accessed by Ashley and by others.

  • She can email the data source to coworkers. Ashley needs to tell the coworkers to install the associated ODBC driver and create the same DSN on their computers so that they can open the data source in Tableau Desktop.

When you try to open a workbook or data source created using the Other Databases (ODBC) connector and your workstation isn't configured correctly (you don't have the workbook or data source's DSN configured, or you don't have the ODBC driver installed), you'll see an error message that begins Generic ODBC requires additional configuration. To resolve this error, contact the workbook or data source publisher or the Tableau Server administrator to get the DSN and ODBC driver information that matches the workbook or data source. Then install the driver and configure the DSN on your computer.

Create a DSN

The method you use to create a DSN depends on your operating system.

  • Windows. Create a DSN using the ODBC Driver Manager.

  • OS X. Create a DSN using an ODBC Manager utility. If you don't have the utility installed your Mac, you can download one from, for example, http://www.odbcmanager.net/(Link opens in a new window). Or you can manually edit the odbc.ini file.

Review the documentation for your operating system for specific instructions on how to create a DSN.

Tableau support for Other Databases (ODBC) connections

Tableau provides limited customer support for connections using Other Databases (ODBC). For example, Support will help you with the sample code provided in Tableau documentation, or if your connection works in Tableau Desktop, but doesn't work in Tableau Server. However, Tableau does not support creating or debugging custom TDC files. For help, you can review the other topics in this section, and you can submit questions and ask for help on the Tableau Developer Community forums(Link opens in a new window).


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