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Use Tableau Bridge to Expand Data Freshness Options

When data sources published to your Tableau Online site connect to underlying data that Tableau Online cannot reach directly, use Tableau Bridge to keep them up-to-date. Tableau Bridge can maintain live connections to on-premises data or run scheduled refreshes.

The sections below tell you more about Tableau Bridge, when to use it or not use it, and its system requirements. This information is for site administrators or data source publishers who have administrator-level access to your Tableau Online site.

If you’re familiar with these concepts and are ready to start using Tableau Bridge, see one of the following topics:

Site administrators: Allow Publishers to Maintain Live Connections to On-Premises Data.

Data source publishers: Use Tableau Bridge to Keep Tableau Online Data Fresh.

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In this article

How Tableau Bridge works

Tableau Bridge is a Windows program that runs on a computer on your network, remaining signed in to your site using one of your Tableau Online user accounts. It communicates with Tableau Online through an encrypted TLS connection to keep published data sources up-to-date. It can do this by querying underlying data defined in a live connection, or by refreshing extracts on a schedule.

You run Tableau Bridge in one of the following ways:

  • As an application, which resides in the Windows system tray. In Tableau Bridge, the Mode setting shows Application.

    In this mode, Bridge can refresh extracts on a schedule while the dedicated user is logged in to Windows. This is how it runs by default.

  • As a Windows service. In Tableau Bridge, when Mode is set to Service, Tableau Bridge runs continuously even if the user logs out of Windows.

    Tableau Bridge can maintain live connections to your on-premises data only when it is set to run as a service. A common practice is to put Tableau Bridge on a centralized VM that is always on and running maintenance tasks.

When to use Tableau Bridge to keep data fresh

Use Tableau Bridge with Tableau Online to do any of the following:

  • Maintain live connections to on-premises relational data — For example, SQL Server or an Oracle datawarehouse. (It does not maintain live connections to cube- or file-based data.)

  • Schedule refreshes for extracts of the following types of data:

    • On-premises data, including file-based data, or relational data when you do not want to publish with a live connection.

    • Oracle, OData, and some ODBC data, even when it’s hosted on a cloud platform.

    • Some web data connector (WDC) data, if you access it by entering a standard user name and password.

      For WDC connections that you access through the data provider’s website (using OAuth), see the next section.

When to use an alternative to Tableau Bridge

For cloud data, setting up schedules directly on Tableau Online is almost always a better (or the only) choice. For some web data connector data sources, scheduling refreshes is not an option.

Data you access through the provider’s web authorization page (OAuth)

Popular providers that use OAuth include Salesforce.com, Google, and WDC data sources created from QuickBooks Online, Facebook, Twitter, and other websites. When you sign in to your cloud data through Tableau, if you are redirected to the data provider’s sign-in page, that provider most likely uses OAuth or similar standard.

To refresh data that you connect to through OAuth:

  • For extracts of Salesforce and Google data, you can set up a schedule directly on Tableau Online.

  • For extracts of WDC data sources you created from Facebook, Twitter, or other website, you can refresh the extracts from Tableau Desktop, either by using the Refresh From Source command, or by republishing the data source.

    See Refresh Extracts from Tableau Desktop.

Extracts of other cloud-hosted data

You can sign in to some cloud data by providing a standard user name and password. An example of this is an extract that connects to a MySQL database hosted on a cloud platform.

For extracts of these cloud data sources, see Schedule Refreshes on Tableau Online.

Tableau Bridge system and configuration requirements

Tableau Bridge has a core set of requirements, as well as those that are specific to the way you want to use it.

Availability and core requirements

  • Tableau Bridge is available only with the 64-bit version of Tableau Desktop on Windows.

  • The computer on which you run Tableau Bridge must be on the same Windows domain and have access to the underlying database specified in the published data source.

  • Both the Tableau Bridge computer and the Windows user must have access to the underlying data specified in the published data source.

Additional requirements specific to maintaining live connections

  • Tableau Bridge must be set to run as a Windows service (in Service mode).

  • The user account running Tableau Bridge must be a local administrator on the computer. The user does not need to be logged in to Windows, but the computer must be powered on with Windows running.

  • The user signed in to Tableau Online through Tableau Bridge must have the Site Administrator site role.

  • Each Tableau Online site can have one Tableau Bridge client that maintains live connections. (Other clients can still refresh extracts.)

  • The appropriate database drivers must be installed on the computer that runs Tableau Bridge.

Additional requirements specific to refreshing extracts

To refresh extracts, you can run Tableau Bridge as a service or as an application. In addition to the core requirements:

  • The user signed in to Tableau Online through Tableau Bridge must have a Publisher or Site Administrator site role on the Tableau Online site, and the user must be the owner of the published data source or a site administrator.

  • If you set Tableau Bridge to run as an application, it completes refreshes only when the computer is powered on, and the Windows user is logged in and running Tableau Bridge.

    If the computer is turned off, if you log off of Windows, or if you exit Tableau Bridge, updates for the data sources you set up in Tableau Bridge will not be able to reach Tableau Online, and the published data sources do not get refreshed until you sign in again. During this time, you will receive refresh failure notification emails from Tableau Online. For more information, see Stop Keeping Data Fresh through Tableau Bridge.