Tableau Server Data Sources

When your Tableau users want to share data connections they’ve defined, they can publish data sources to Tableau Server. When a data source is published to the server, other users can connect to it from their own workbooks, as they do other types of data. When the data in the Tableau data source is updated, all workbooks that connect to it pick up the changes.

A Tableau Server data source consists of metadata that describes the following:

  • The connection information: Defines whether the data is in a live database or an extract, and which of that data to bring in to Tableau.

  • Customization and cleanup: Includes information that facilitates efficient use of the data. For example, calculations, sets, groups, bins, parameters, custom field formatting, and so on.

  • Data access and refresh instructions: Includes the location of the underlying database server (whether on-premises or in the cloud), network paths for file-based data, security information such as credentials or access tokens, and related information.

In addition to helping your users create data consistency and reliability, using Tableau data sources offers advantages to you as the administrator. Because multiple workbooks can connect to one data source, you can minimize data source proliferation and save on storage space and processing time. When someone downloads a workbook that connects to a Tableau data source that in turn has an extract connection, the extract stays on the server, reducing network traffic. Finally, if a connection requires a database driver, you need to install and maintain the driver only on the server, instead of on each user’s computer. If you use Tableau Cloud, all supported drivers are available to data sources published to your site.

Managing data sources

You can perform some or all management tasks on a data source if you have one of the following levels of access:

  • Site or server administrator

  • Project leader or owner of the project the data source is published to

    Full project leader access is available only with some site roles. For information, see Project-level administration.

  • Data source owner 

Unless you’re a site or server administrator, you might not have access to all management tasks. For example, if the Permissions menu is not available, chances are that the project permissions are locked, which denies setting permissions on individual workbooks and data sources.

Tip: A best practice is to designate a person or team to manage all data sources published to a project or to the whole site, so that all data sources can be maintained under the same set of guidelines.

To perform the management tasks that you have access to, do the following:

  1. Sign in to the site, and on the Content tab, select ExploreData sources.

  2. On a data source, select the Actions () menu.

  • New workbook or Download: Create a new workbook in the browser environment that connects to this data source. Or download the data source to use locally.

  • Tag: Add or remove keyword tags. Tags can contain a single word or multiple words, delimited by a comma.

  • Move: Move a data source from one project to another. This requires specific settings on each project. For information, see Requirements for moving assets.

  • Permissions: View or update permissions that specify which users or groups can connect to, modify, or download the data source. As mentioned at the beginning of this section, if this action is not available, the project permissions might be locked, and only the project leader or administrator can change permissions.

  • Change owner: Making someone an owner gives them complete access to it.

  • Refresh extracts:If a data source includes an extract, you can assign the extract to a refresh schedule.

    For information, see Refresh Data on a Schedule.

  • View the data source’s revision history

  • Delete: Deleting a data source affects workbooks that connect to the data source. Before you delete a data source, ensure that there are no workbooks that connect to the data source or edit the workbooks to use another data source.

In addition, for data sources that are proxy connections, administrators can stay aware of how users authenticate to the database, and whether the appropriate drivers are installed. For information, see Database Drivers and Data Security.


Published data sources often function as curated and trustworthy data sources. As such, there are restrictions on how they can be modified and used.

Aliases and calculations can't be edited.

  • New aliases also can't be created. Fields can be duplicated and the copy can be aliased.
  • New calculations can be created. Existing calculation can also be copied and the copy can be edited.

Relationships and joins can't be edited.

Published data sources cannot be used in joins or relationships.

  • Use blends if you need to combine published data sources.


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