How to Improve Tableau Dashboard Performance

Have you ever been stuck using a slow-loading Tableau dashboard, a sluggish server, monster query times, etc.? This article is for you...

How to Improve Tableau Dashboard Performance

Have you ever been stuck using a slow-loading dashboard, a sluggish server, monster query times, etc.? Anyone who uses Tableau for more than just recreating spreadsheets will agree that PERFORMANCE MATTERS. There was a great presentation at TC18 by Lovekesh Babbar that's worth looking at again, shown in this video clip. Below I summarize the presentation.

Best practices for dashboard performance

Tableau Dashboard Performance Presentation Overview

Tools

  • One Size Does Not Fit All - Unfortunately the "one size fits all" approach rarely works because it assumes everyone learns and works in the same way and at the same rate.
  • Designer Versus Builder - A builder can provide you with a very attractive dashboard, but it might be missing the personal touch. A designer can work with you to personalize a dashboard that is completely unique to you and your business.

To obtain actionable insights more quickly...

  • Use filters before adding a huge bit of custom SQL.
  • When "Sorting Data" is taking time, address it. Use default metrics when possible.
  • Filter to top 100 rows when you have millions of rows and using tabular data.
  • In filter, exclude nulls instead of including 100s of fields.
  • Be aware of the impact of "countd."
  • Data Model - Be aware of adding new tables.
  • Putting filters into interactivity won't require another query. Drop down filters will require another query (visual filters instead of cascading filters)

Tableau Server vs. Tableau Desktop

There was overwhelming support for this presentation from Zuar's server experts. They are on the frontline, day in and out, getting bombarded with performance questions. Said one of our lead server administrators:

...if a dashboard has ANY of the performance issues covered in this presentation it will load just as slow on Tableau Server - no matter how much hardware Server is running on. Put another way: take all of the computing resources of Google, Apple and Amazon. Run Tableau Server on top of all of that. If the dash takes 30 seconds to render on Desktop, it will take 30 seconds to render on this mega Tableau Server. Using modern server hardware (typical to installs we see), unless the CPU and/or RAM usage of Tableau Server is consistently > 80% (very atypical of the installs we see), adding resources to or tweaking configuration on the Server speeds up dashboards exactly 0%.

Bottom-line: if you want speedier dashboards for the CEO, open Desktop and get to work before you even thinking of calling the Server admin. There’s little chance they can do anything to help you out, unless they know the optimizations covered in the presentation.

Improvements - Tableau 2021.4

Citing data from McKinsey, Tableau said that 92% of companies are failing to scale their analytics projects. Mulesoft and Coleman Parkes Research found that 87% of IT and business leaders worry that security and governance slow innovation, Tableau noted. The new features in Tableau 2021.4 are in many ways designed to address that.

New security features added in 2021.4 increase flexibility and segmentation by allowing Tableau administrators to centrally configure which users and groups have access to which slices of data. That desire to broaden the reach of analytics to more users has come with challenges, however, and Tableau 2021.4's focus on enabling wider adoption was spurred by some of the challenges the vendor's customers are experiencing, according to Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer at Tableau.

"We've seen a significant growth in the number of customers driving analytics across the enterprise and wanting to build a data culture," said Ajenstat. "As a result, IT leaders want to accelerate their success in driving governed self-service and deliver analytics to every single person for any data. However, the democratization of data is presenting new challenges for IT leaders. And the capabilities included in the latest Tableau platform update are aimed at easing those new challenges."

Megan Oertel, director of product analytics at Sysco LABS, said that her team has been very focused on cataloging definitions and logic at the raw data level, and describes the new Tableau Catalog features as a visual interpretation of her work. "Being able to describe columns in Tableau and incorporating data warnings at the visualization level of our platform will be a nice boost in our efforts to ensure that our users trust and understand the data we are surfacing for them," Oertel said.

Tableau 2021.4 looks to be an update loaded with features and functionalities that will only increase productivity within the tool. Every aspect of a perfect visualization tool is covered, and it seems that it will take Tableau to newer heights of popularity.

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