Time stamping your data in Tableau and Tableau Prep

by Robbin Vernooij

Some quick tips on how to keep track of the last time your datasource was updated in Tableau.

Knowing when your datasource has been refreshed can be of utmost importance when you are working with time sensitive data. Even when dashboards are updated once a month, it is good practice to show your user the last time your datasource has been refreshed. Special thanks to Carl Allchin for pointing out the already existing Tableau features!


1. Tableau Prep Workflows

The recent release of Tableau prep allows you to quickly and easily shape and clean your data for direct use in Tableau. Whilst workflows cannot be set to run at a set time (at the time of this post), you can manually run the workflow linked to files (like excel, text and tableau extracts) or servers to keep them up to date.

By adding a simple step to your workflow containing a calculated field Today() or Now(), every time you run the workflow, these fields will update to today’s current date (and time if you use Now() ) for you to display on your dashboard in Tableau.


2. Tableau

Tableau has an integrated feature that allows you to insert the < Date Update Time > to your tooltip and titles to always show you the latest date and time of your Tableau Extract Refresh. You can likewise add your < Data Source Name > to your sheets, especially handy when working with several datasources in one workbook.


You add them by going into your tooltip/title -> insert -> data update time and/or data source name.


Keep in mind when you are using a live connection, that this will always depict the current date and time. It might not always be the case that your datasource or server data is updated every second, so the data update time would not properly reflect the actual refresh date.

For example, when you are using Tableau Prep to upload a data source to your server and have a dashboard with a live connection to it, this field would not represent the last time you ran Tableau Prep. However, you can use the calculated field from my point 1. above to better reflect this!


That’s it for now. Feel free to contact me about any of the content on Linkedin or Twitter @RobbinVernooij