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Introduction

Have you ever tried building a visual which is not supported by “Show me” like a Sankey Diagram or Radar Chart in Tableau? Did you have performance troubles with a dashboard but find it hard to find out what is causing the performance issues? These things can be a lot of work!

Tableau is coming with a new functionality called “Tableau Dashboard Extensions” (in Tableau 2018.2) en with this we can solve the challenges above with ease!

When I visited the 2017 Tableau Conference in Las Vegas I became obsessed with Tableau Dashboard Extensions and when the developer edition was released me and my colleagues started building extensions right away. With the release of appsfortableau.com and Tableau 2018.2 we can help you identify performance issues, build a Sankey Diagram (or Radar Chart) with only one drag and drop movement with your mouse! This is the true power of Tableau Dashboard Extensions!

What are Tableau Dashboard Extensions?

Tableau Dashboard Extensions are small web applications (read: a basic website) which you can drag into your dashboard. This is pretty normal because you could also use a webpage element right? Well there is one big difference. The webpage element is only controlled by dashboard actions. With dashboard actions you can update the url of the webpage element which will show you a different webpage.

With Tableau Dashboard Extensions you will be able to update the element from all kinds of dashboard interactions. But you can also update the sheets with the Extension! Imagine the posibilities by having this powerfull functionality.

Example

I need a Google Maps card in my dashboard and use the webpage element. Now I can use dashboard actions to update my map with a dimension from a sheet. But when I click on a POI or city in the map nothing happens with my dashboard. Webpage elements have only one way communication.

This is the most important difference between Extensions and webpage elements. Tableau Dashboard Extensions are able to communicate in both ways. You can for example interact with a sheet to update the extension. But you can also interact with a extension to update the sheets in the dashboard. The Extension is acting like it is part of the dashboard just like a sheet.

Use Cases

With this knowledge we can think of new use cases:

  • New visuals like the radar chart, sankey diagram or network diagram
  • A direct connection with your datasource to do write back actions without the need of leaving your dashboard
  • Signal low stock and order new products directly from your dashboard
  • Changing a budget or target
  • Deep integration with arcGIS, Google Maps or other advanced map applications
  • A direct connection with your financial or HR software API like SalesForce, Exact Online or others

But it could also be something smaller which makes dashboards more user friendly

  • Reset all filters button
  • Active filters overview
  • Show all underlying data in a searchable table
  • Export a subset to Excel or CSV

Do you have a great idea for Tableau Dashboard Extensions? AppsforTableau is part of Infotopics (Gold Partner Tableau) and we have great developers which built beautiful extensions. We would love to help you optimise your business processes.

I have an idea
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The Extensions API

To use Tableau Dashboard Extensions Tableau has developed a new functionality called the Extensions API. This is the core of extensions. With the API you are able to receive all kinds of information from your dashboard or datasource. For example: You can ask the dashboard which sheets are active, how many marks a sheet contains, which filters are used and many more! You can also use the Extensions API to push action or information to the dashboard. For example: Update a parameter, change the filter or refresh the dashboard every 5 seconds.

For the technical readers, this was partly possible with the Javascript API. The downside of the Javascript API is that it is only working with Tableau Server and you are always doing this kind of interaction outside the dashboard in a custom made webpage. Therefore you need to embed the dashboard and can’t use Tableau Server’s GUI. This requirements are not needed with the Extensions API anymore 🙂 All this logic is built right into the Extensions API and you can use it in Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server.

Build your own Extensions?

Tableau Dashboard Extensions are small webapplications. This requires the extensions to be hosted somewhere just like any website. You use Tableau Dashboard Extensions with a .trex file. This .trex file has information about the extension like the name, but also the location of the extensions. AppsforTableau has a enterprise cloud solution. We are hosting extensions for you, you will only need the .trex file and internet access!

Do you want to build extensions yourself? Use our community platform to share your ideas and maybe we can help eachother built something awesome.

Community Forum

Don’t feel like creating extensions yourself? You better ask us to partner up, we love to build extensions and are willing to help!

I have a great Idea

The open Tableau community and our customers are very important to us. We love to make great extensions for Tableau and help Tableau users do things more efficiently. If you have feedback, ideas, questions or an issue? Please make sure you share it with us! Contact us through our support page.

Greetings,

Merlijn Buit – Tableau Zen Master

2019-02-08T17:01:25+01:00