This week, Zion Spencer and I teamed up to host a webinar all about improving your Tableau Desktop and Server performance. In the webinar, I discussed a variety of ways in which you can ensure your workbooks are operating at peak performance level. You can watch the webinar recording above and follow along with the notes I've provided below.

Alright, let’s get started!

Tableau Desktop: Best Practices for Performance

To explain some of InterWorks’ history, we’ve been a Tableau Gold Partner for ten years. We provide Tableau consulting services and training, but really we’re just obsessed with data altogether. One of the major concerns that we come across with many of our clients is how to make dashboards performant. 

In my talk, I outlined the main areas from our Tableau Performance checklist series that can really help step up your workbook performance. For the TL:DR version, I suggest:

  • Smaller data sets: Make sure to focus the domain of your data to columns/rows that you actually need. Extracts can greatly improve your workbook performance.
  • Better/fewer filters: Don't forget dashboard actions are a GREAT alternative to quick filters!
  • Calculation in Tableau if necessary: Remember that Tableau is an awesome visualization tool. While it can handle a lot of calculations, you may want to build those calculations directly in your datasource.
  • Less marks = less time: Keep your visualizations simple. The higher the mark count, the longer it can take to render. The mark count can be found in the lower left corner of your Tableau Desktop screen.
  • Less worksheets = less time: You may not want to have more than four to five worksheets on your dashboard if you can help it. The more worksheets you have, the longer it takes to render.

If I could sum up the best way to optimize your workbooks, it would be less is always more, especially with visualization. If you’re still unable to optimize your workbooks after working your way through the checklist, we have a few more tricks up our sleeves, or I should say, tools.

Power Tools to the Rescue

There are numerous aspects to check in your workbooks and it can be challenging to keep track of them all. As analysts and consultants, we run into these issues frequently. We decided to do something about it and develop tools to help scan and point out any issues that are hindering your workbooks, and subsequently, your dashboards.

In the webinar, Zion discussed two main tools that essentially fix almost all the points I mentioned above. They are Power Tools: Desktop and Server.

Power Tools for Tableau: Desktop

There are three tools in Desktop that are particularly helpful for optimization:

  • Performance Analyzer: Quickly targets bad queries
  • Data Source Auditing: Ensure efficient use of data sources
  • Best Practice Analyzer: Improve workbook design choices

The Performance Analyzer takes a snapshot of what your workbook was doing at different view times. This is all done in real time. It can also show you a worksheet by worksheet basis when a query is loading.

Data Source Audit is great for documenting your workbooks. It will show you problems that are affecting performance. So, if you have a data set that is underutilized, you’ll be able to find the issue quickly and resolve it.

Best Practice Analyzer is one of our most popular features because it scans your workbooks for you. This tool checks a lot of what I mentioned earlier in the webinar and saves you a ton of time. As you may know, it can take a long time to scan your workbooks one by one. But the Best Practice Analyzer does the scan for you and shows you issues based on severity that were found in your workbooks. You can even export this list to an Excel file if you are working with a team. One of the coolest aspects is, if you’re not sure why something is an issue, it will provide a link that sends you to the Power Tools website to a blog that addresses that problem.

Power Tools for Tableau: Server

Zion was able to briefly mention the advantages of working with Power Tools: Server. This tool can help you pinpoint what was happening in the environment that slowed down a certain view. An alert will be sent to you when this happens and you can immediately work on resolving the issue. You’ll be able to easily and efficiently track these instances.

You can begin your data optimization journey by heading to the Power Tools for Tableau website and downloading your free trial. You’ll instantly be able to run these tools and start your best practices.

Thanks for tuning in!

More from the Author