Step by step guide on how to publish your workbook to Tableau Server

by Marius Nikiforovas

Tableau Server is a great way to store your data in one place and share it across your organisation. It improves data consistency and makes management much easier. However, if you are new to Tableau you might not know how to publish your workbooks to Tableau Server yet. But don't worry, it is actually fairly straightforward and today I will show you how.

Before we start it is useful to give some context on the structure of the server itself. The two terms we need to know when publishing to Tableau Server are sites and projects. Sites are like departments within your company and as in companies departments are usually located in different parts of the office. Sites allow you to create various areas within your Tableau Server, where you can store your data in a more structured way. For example, you can have one site for marketing, a different site for sales and maybe a shared site with data used by the whole company. You can also introduce user permissions and make these areas only accessible for certain personnel if there are data-sensitivity concerns. The site itself consists of different projects, very similar to folders you would have on your PC, where you can store and organise your data. For a deeper dive into sites and projects, I recommend you check out, Jess, my fellow data schooler's, blog.

Now, time to publish your workbook to Tableau Server

First, open the workbook that you wish to publish, navigate to the top menu (below the sheet name) and select Server. Then under the menu that pops up, choose Publish Workbook.

Click Server and then choose Publish Workbook
Click Server and then choose Publish Workbook

If you aren't signed in to a Tableau Server, you will be prompted to do so. After you logged in, navigate to the Server drop-down menu, and find the Tableau Server you wish to connect to. The drop-down will only be populated with URLs you have used before, so you may need to manually type it in.

Connect to Server window
Connect to Server window

After you have selected the server you wish to publish to, hit Connect. A credential window should open up. Type your credentials and sign in to your Tableau Server. In the next window, you will be asked to pick the Site you want to publish to. Once done, a similar window should appear:

Workbook publishing options
Workbook publishing options

This window gives you control over where and how your workbook should be published.

Project
Allows to choose a specific location within Tableau Server where you want to publish your workbook. I have chosen my personal project folder.

Name
Gives a name to your workbook.

Description
Gives a description of your workbook.

Tags
You can tag specific keywords that describe your workbook, for example, "Sales", "USA", "2018", which can be later used when locating or filtering content.

Sheets
In case you only want your user to see certain sheets from your workbook, you can specify which under this section. All sheets/dashboards in your workbook will be published but only the ones you select will be visible to other users.

Permissions
Here you can control user permissions for your workbook. You can add new, edit old or remove certain users. You can also specify what type of permissions each person or a group has.

Permission window
Permission window

However, it is recommended to keep the permissions of your workbook the same as the project that it sits in because it makes managing permissions much easier. In case you want to change permissions, it is the best practice to change them for the whole project or create a new one.

Data Sources
Here you can specify whether you want to publish your data source together with the workbook or separately.

More Options
Show sheets as tabs: this allows you to publish sheets within your workbook as clickable tabs, giving more flexibility to your end-user.
Show selections: if you tick this box, any highlights or selects at the time of publishing will appear on the default view of the published workbook.
Include external files: allows to publish data source files local to your computer, i.e. Excel or CSV. You want to keep this box checked in most of the cases.

After you finished selecting the options, hit publish. Congratulations, you have just published your first (presumably) workbook to Tableau Server!