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Publishers: Use Tableau Bridge to Keep Tableau Online Data Fresh

For published data sources you cannot refresh directly on Tableau Online, you can use Tableau Bridge to keep the data fresh. For example, use Tableau Bridge when the published data source connects to data you maintain behind a firewall on your network (on-premises).

You can use Tableau Bridge in the following ways:

  • Maintain live connections to on-premises data

  • Maintain published extract data sources that Tableau Online cannot reach directly

How Tableau Bridge relates to the Online sync client

Tableau Bridge is the Online sync client plus live query functionality. Bridge was released with Tableau version 10.3, at which point it replaced the sync client.

Live query functionality enables you to maintain live connections between data sources published to Tableau Online and on-premises relational data.

Some feature notes:

  • If you use the sync client to refresh extracts, scheduled refreshes will continue to work as they always have.

  • Your site administrator must enable the new functionality for maintaining live connections.

  • As the sync client did, Tableau Bridge refreshes data sources that you publish separately, not data that’s embedded in a published workbook.

If you’re a site administrator, see Use Tableau Bridge to Expand Data Freshness Options to learn more about the ways you can allow publishers to use Tableau Bridge.

Maintain live connections to on-premises data

After your administrator enables support for maintaining live connections, you will see this option during the publishing process. It is available when your workbook or data source contains a live connection to a relational database on your network, such as Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL.

After you publish, Tableau Online assigns your data source to the Tableau Bridge client designated by your administrator, and that’s all there is to it. To get started, publish a data source to Tableau Online, and select the option to maintain a live connection. Or publish a workbook, and select the option to publish the data source separately, and then specify a live connection.

Note: You can also ask your administrator to reassign a Tableau Bridge data source to a different client or to manage a data source using a centrally-managed Tableau Bridge client. For more information, see Manage data sources using a centrally-managed Tableau Bridge client.

Schedule an extract refresh from Tableau Online for Tableau Bridge

For extract refresh schedules, Tableau Bridge works exactly as the sync client did. To schedule a refresh, you need to publish your extract data source separately, whether you go through the publish data source process, or the publish workbook process.

Note: When an extract refresh is performed on extracts created in Tableau 10.4 and earlier (that is, a .tde extract), the extract is upgraded to .hyper extract automatically. While there are many benefits of upgrading to a .hyper extract, you won't be able open the extract with earlier versions of Tableau Desktop. For more information, see Extract Upgrade to .hyper Format.

The steps here describe how to schedule the refresh at the same time you publish the data source from Tableau Online. For a data source that’s already published, see Create a Schedule for a Tableau Bridge Data Source.

1. Publish the data source

  1. In Tableau Desktop, open the workbook that contains the data connection you want to publish.

  2. Select Server > Publish Data Source.

    If you need to sign in, enter https://online.tableau.com, and then enter your Tableau Online credentials.

For more help with publishing, see Publish a Data Source to Tableau Online.

2. Set up the refresh schedule

  1. In the confirmation message that appears at the end of the publishing process, select Schedule using Tableau Bridge.

    When the confirmation message appears, select the option to schedule refreshes using Tableau Bridge

  2. For Start Tableau Bridge on, select your computer, configure the schedule settings, and select Set schedule.

    This starts a new Tableau Bridge client on your computer. Alternatively, you can select an existing Tableau Bridge client from the drop-down list. Note that to assign an extract refresh to a Tableau Bridge client, you must be signed in to that client, and you must be the data source owner or a Tableau Online site administrator. [You can’t assign an extract refresh to another user’s Tableau Bridge client.]

    A confirmation alert for the data source appears in the lower-right area of your screen, and the Tableau Bridge system tray icon appears in the Windows task bar.

    Note: When you click Set schedule, you might see an alert from your web browser, letting you know it has received a request from Tableau Online to start an external application. The external application refers to Tableau Bridge. Allow the browser to start the application.

3. Embed database credentials into the connection information

If you need to provide a user name and password to access the underlying data in the published data source, you must embed those database credentials in Tableau Bridge to complete the refresh schedule settings.

  1. From the Windows system tray on your computer, select the Bridge icon. It shows a red exclamation point to indicate that refreshes cannot run until you resolve an issue.

  2. In the Edit Database Credentials dialog appears, enter your database user name and password.

4. Consider some next steps

  • If you have existing workbooks that use the same data, and you want them to be refreshed on the same schedule as the published extract, you need to edit the workbooks to use the published extract instead of their own static (embedded) data sources. For information, see Replacing Data Sources.

  • If you want Tableau Bridge to refresh extracts when you’re logged out of Windows, you can run Bridge as a service (Service mode).

    To go a step further, you can take your computer out of the equation completely, and run Tableau Bridge as a service on a centralized computer that is always on. Ask your administrator whether you have a shared Tableau Bridge client for running extract refreshes.

    For more information, see Run Tableau Bridge as a Windows service.