Using Custom Admin Views to Help with Tableau Server Housekeeping

by Joselito Bondoc

Tableau Server is a fantastic way to organize, edit, share, and collaborate with your team, for example when sharing common data sources. However this also means that when a large bank of data items (workbooks, datasources, etc...) are published, it can be quite a challenge to keep the Server fresh and clean.

One way to look for old (or stale) data content on your Server is by looking at the Admin Views, which is available to site administrators (see figure a. below). One of the available Admin View is the Stale Content workbook, which provides insights on data items that have not recently been used.

Figure a. On the left hand pane, site admins can see the Site Status option, clicking on this gives you access to embedded Tableau workbooks. One of these workbooks is the Stale Content dashboard.

However, these views are not customisable and they might not answer your every question straight out of the box. So another way to gain insights from your Server is by using Custom Admin Views.

Creating Custom Admin Views

Enable access to the Tableau Server reopository

In order to create Custom Admin Views, we have to enable external access to the Tableau Server repository (which is a PostgreSQL database). To do this, we can refer to a well-documented page on the the Tableau help pages.

Connect to the Tableau Server repository

After enabling access, the next step is to use Tableau Desktop to connect to the PostgreSQL database of your Tableau Server (see figure b below).

Figure b. Setting up the connection from Tableau Desktop to the repository

More information on how to configure this connection is documented on the second part of this page.

Figure c. Tables and views we have access to after connecting to the PostgreSQL database

After connecting to the database, we gain access to the tables and views within it, which we can use to start gaining insights from Tableau Server. A well-documented data dictionary is available from Tableau, giving more information about the tables and structure of the database. However, whilst this is helpful, it can still be challenging to understand the underlying data structure and finding out which tables we need for useful analysis. So here are more resources to help with creating Custom Admin Views:

These resources have been created by Matt Coles from Tableau as well as contribution from the community.

Using a Tableau Server Insights datasource

We're interested on looking at stale content in our Server, so the most relevant datasource for us is the TS Content, which is a high level summarised data on each of our Workbooks, Views, Flows and published Datasources on Server.

After downloading the TS Content datasource, we can open it with Tableau Desktop and the initial step is to set up the connection to our Tableau Server, similar to figure b or by following the steps laid out on this help page ("Connect to the Tableau Server repository").

After setting up the connection, we gain access to a large number of helpful fields that we can use to start answering questions about our Server! A snapshot of some of these fields is shown below.

Figure d. A snapshot of some of the fields in the TS Content datasource

What I created using the TS Content datasource

Figure e. A quick dashboard I created using the TS Content data source.

The first part of this dashboard is very similar to the embedded Stale Content Admin View; however, the second part is something I made to branch out a bit. This isn't the most comprehensive example of what we can create to gain helpful insights but hopefully I've given you enough information to help you get stuck in – there is plenty of useful data for you to explore!

Thumbnail image from The Creative Exchange on Unsplash.