Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tableau Push instead of Subscribe notifications

Being able to subscribe to views or workbooks was a huge added feature when it was added in Tableau v8.0. Users could get the info in their email on a schedule instead of having to go to the web page. Then came the questions....

"Can I get a notification when an extract updates?" No.

"Can I subscribe a group?" No.

"Can I sign other people?" No.

We do our best to let people know which schedule to choose. 
I have seen people who get daily messages for a dashboard that updates monthly. Not only does the server have unnecessary load, but they get 29 extra emails a month.

I use Pentaho Data Integration to manage other Tableau Server tasks and I was working on notifying owners of when extracts failed and realized that the opposite would be to notify them when it is successfully updated.

I boiled what was subscribe-able down to 3 things:
  1. Successful Workbook Extract Refresh
  2. Successful Datasource Extract Refresh
  3. Workbook Publish
The third is because there are some workbooks that are manually worked/QA'ed monthly and then published from a QA version to a Prod version. You might want to add a fourth if there are datasources you manually publish. 

Watch the video for more details on how the Pentaho Job/Transform works, but the overview is:
  1. Run Custom_Subscriptions.kjb Job, which deletes old images and launches the transform
  2. Figure out what has happened and is actionable
    1. Query Tableau Database to find actionable events
    2. Join it to a table/file with a list of who is subscribed to what
  3. Load some details for the view URLs
  4. Generate the emails
    1. Find unique views
    2. run tabcmd to generate the images once for each subscribed dashboard
  5. Email each person/group the image/content they are subscribed to.
I have two tables/text files containing
  • email addresses, subscribed object, site, etc
  • Details about the subscribed object (url, path, site, filetype)
We use Active Directory groups to control access, so most dashboards already have a corresponding group that we can email. This prevents having to manually manage individual users.

I have only tested images, but switching the file type from .png to a .pdf or .csv should work

There is also a #DATA15 session on how they do this at Tableau and I am really excited about seeing this. Maybe they will announce that it will be a new feature in Tableau 10.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DATA15 Survival Guide

This will be my fifth Tableau Conference, and every year I get questions from people. They want to know what sessions to take, which ones to avoid, and what they can't miss.

  1. Have Fun. I know this should go without saying, but have fun. There are going to be great parties, events, speakers, and conversations. Get enough sleep (tough for us used to EST). I try to get all my work related stuff done between the time I get up at 4am and breakfast at 7. That way I don't have to worry about work and can focus on the conference. 
  2. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. The MGM Grand is huge and the conference is twice the size of last year. You are going to walk all over and should be comfortable. 
  3. Don't carry too much stuff. I try to have a minimal load with me: a small backpack, iPad, power pack/cable, and a water bottle. Don't be that guy with the huge bag who comes late/leaves early and has to slide past 20 people to a seat, banging a bag against everyone. Or even worse takes a seat with your bag. Which brings me to...
  4. Have options. Find a few sessions for a time slot so if one fills up you have a fallback. Many sessions will fill up and turn people away. Slide in to make room. You might need to skip a session, or leave early to get to your next one. Chances are some sessions you want are going to be full so...
  5. Some sessions are best experienced. I am thinking of IronViz, PimpMyViz, and the keynotes. The sessions are usually recorded live, or before hand, so you can catch others online. 
  6. Talk to people, the great thing about a software-specific conference is that everyone uses, or is thinking about using, Tableau. Ask them where there are from and how they use it. You can gain new perspectives, and meet people that you can connect with later. The conference is really big now, so knowing people makes it more fun. TC11 was about 1200 people. I was constantly running into the same people over and over; not so much these days. 
  7. Last year they gave out backpacks at registration. If you plan on using it make sure you have some way of identifying yours from the 10,999 others. Better yet, use your own. 
  8. Help is everywhere, to mixed degrees. Tableau has exploded over the past few years so there are many people working there that have less experience than me. If you want to ask esoteric questions go to one of the meet-ups and talk to the developers at the Data Doctor. There are information desks everywhere and people are generally helpful. 
  9. Food is also everywhere. Going somewhere new can be scary. Breakfast and lunch are provided. There are some events in the evening (with drinks) that may count as a meal, depending on who you are, and how much you eat. There are also usually snacks available during the day at Bits and Bytes and at the Bar Chart. Lines can be long, but hopefully Vegas is good at dealing with swarms of people. 
  10. Tweet all about it with #data15. 

Analyzing text with Tableau

This afternoon a colleague and I were discussing text analysis and how there isn't a good way to do it in Tableau. We have seen demos for tools like Oracle Endeca that are all about analyzing unstructured text. An example that was often given was using it against doctors notes. The other is for occurrences of keywords.

I was able to use a "Split Fields to Rows" transform in Pentaho to make a row for each word and generate the viz below. I excluded numbers, and some common words like 'Tableau'. I also used a Stop Word List to exclude common words.