Since Power Tools for Tableau: Desktop was released, I’ve seen it have a significant impact on several InterWorks clients. Any organization that’s attempting to implement iterative design or an agile process for publishing Tableau workbooks would really benefit from testing out the features of this tool. Why is that? Because when you’re moving Tableau workbooks between disparate environments on a regular basis, it’s important to consistently check the quality and make sure that workbooks are up to the highest possible standard.
If you’ve not yet set up a structured process, Power Tools: Desktop can help you accomplish the transition by giving clear standards and measures for benchmarking all your Tableau workbooks on Tableau Server. We work with a lot of Fortune 100 clients that find themselves in a place where these benchmarks become critical to scaling Tableau.
Benchmarking with Data Source Audit
When setting up the necessary benchmarks, I usually start by looking through all the data connections with the Data Source Audit tool found in Power Tools: Desktop. It gives a quick glance at the types of data sources being used, the list of calculations in the Tableau workbooks and if there are lots of unused columns.
It also helps me see things from a bird’s eye view and immediately find out how many data sources are being utilized for a set of Tableau workbooks on Tableau Server and how well we’re utilizing those data sources. I’m then able to see where there are redundancies and where I can clean up the data to make it as performant as possible.
There are also some great exports for the Data Source Audit tool. It’s now common practice to have these exports generated every time workbooks are about to move into production. Some people will export to a PDF format and use that as a data dictionary.
Perhaps my favorite export option is the Tableau workbook export. It’s been great to see that export evolve over time to become more and more useful. In fact, I think it’s one of the most used features in the Power Tools suite as I run into a lot of situations where disparate data sources are being used.
Above: A look at the dashboard in the Tableau workbook export from the Data Source Audit tool.
The Full Utility of Power Tools: Desktop
In a recent scenario, the workbooks were pulling data from Snowflake, Teradata and some different flat files. We were able to quickly show where everything was coming from and validate the connections. In addition to checking data sources, most large organizations have strict style standards that need to be applied to all their Tableau workbooks when going into production.
Power Tools: Desktop is great at checking styles and bringing conformity to formatting throughout a set of workbooks. The most recent addition is a tool called Viz Templates. It lets the user save predefined style selections for their workbooks. Here’s another article that goes more in depth.
The last step I’ll take to make sure my workbooks are ready for production is to check performance with a couple other tools in Power Tools: Desktop. The Best Practice Analyzer tool shows me if there are any Tableau workbooks experiencing a significant number of performance issues. It will call out specific issues in the workbooks that are causing slower loading times.
I usually take those Tableau workbooks over to the Performance Analyzer tool and narrow down the specific loading times for the problem worksheets and dashboards. That helps me see how far the workbooks are from performance benchmarks.
After each of the best practice issues have been addressed, I’ll then run the workbooks back through the Performance Analyzer. By that point, the Tableau workbooks are usually back within the performance standards that we have for the production environment.
See the Difference for Yourself
If you’re an organization that knows you need more structure in your workbook design process, let InterWorks show you how Power Tools: Desktop can become a linchpin in that process. I’ve seen it have a tremendous impact not only in the realm of time savings but also in how it brings a ton of insight to administrators and everyday Tableau users.
When it comes time to start moving Tableau workbooks between your QA environment, I’d also recommend looking into Power Tools: Deployment. It will streamline the whole process of getting your approved Tableau workbooks into the production environment. We have several blogs and videos on Power Tools: Deployment. I hope you’ll be able to check those out, as well.
The other option is to just skip that step and talk through all the possibilities on the phone. If you’ll give us a heads up in the contact form below, we can give you a quick rundown.