Tableau Packaged Workbooks and Excel 2007 Data Sources

Some Tableau workbooks are too good to keep to yourselves and you’ll want to share them with other people! Note the following issue, however… if you send a Tableau packaged workbook that has been produced with an Excel 2007 source, it is worthwhile double-checking which version of MS Office your recipient is using.

Looking at the Tableau website, Office Excel 2003 users will experience problems if they try to open a Tableau packaged workbook that has been produced in Office Excel 2007. These individuals are missing specific Office 2007 drivers, which mean that they won’t be able to open the workbook. The website specifically says:

If you are sharing packaged workbooks that contain Microsoft Excel or Access 2007 data sources, the people opening the workbook must either have Microsoft Excel and Access 2007 or the Office 2007 Data Connectivity Components installed on their machines. The data connectivity components are available on the Tableau Download Drives page.

To download drivers and resolve the issue, the recipients will need to download specific office drivers from the Microsoft website. These drivers amount to about 25 Mb, and the instructions to download them can be found here:

  1. When it asks you to ‘run’ or ‘save’, please ‘save’ the download onto the computer.
  2. Once you’ve completed the download, please navigate to the file you’ve just downloaded, and double-click on the downloaded file. I believe it is called AccessDatabaseEngine.exe, double-click on it, and press ‘run’.
  3. Reboot the computer ( just in case!)
  4. Once you have downloaded and installed the drivers by yourselves, you can then open the packaged workbooks, produced in Excel 2007.

I hope that this helps!

Using WMS Servers to load non-US maps

Residents of the United States are lucky; then get free US maps, with lots of US-specific information, which are loaded easily into reporting software. Tableau provides the US maps by default, and Microsoft have released this functionality in SQL Server 2008 R2 so you can display your data efficiently using the new geometry and geography data types.

However, what about the case where you don’t want to see United States data?

This question was posed to Microsoft team members at last weekend’s SQLBits. Namely, when can we get free maps for the rest of the world? Unfortunately, Microsoft have no plans to provide us with non-US specific information at this point in time. The reason is that US borders and boundaries are very well-defined and there are no conflicts regarding territory. However, for the rest of the world, it isn’t that straightforward. In some countries, it is possible that you may even go to prison for drawing incorrect borders, which are perhaps being fought over. So, drawing maps is much more contentious than you might think. Microsoft quite like their users, and decided it was less contentious to provide maps, preferring instead to allow you to make and create your own.

In the meantime, you can load your own ESRI shapefiles to both Tableau and SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services. I saw the latter at SQLBits last week at a presentation by Andrew Fryer, and I was very impressed with the mapping capabilities that Microsoft now offer.

If you would like to use WMS Servers in Tableau, this is also easy. Here are some publically accessible WMS Server URLs listed here. Please note that you should check the servers’ usage policy before using it; just because it is publically accessible does not mean that we’re automatically allowed to use it!

This URL belongs to NASA, but be aware that your connection may be refused if it is too busy!
It is also possible to use the World Mineral Deposits service:
In Tableau, it is easy to load in the background maps. Here are some images to help you:

1. Find the WMS Servers dialog box

2. Type in the URL

3. Choose your map!

I hope that this helps someone, somewhere. If I get time to look into this more, then I’ll post.