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Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

Aug 19, 2020

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Tableau Online can connect to any data source that is available on the network and not restricted by a firewall. But when your on-premise data is on a private machine secured with a firewall, you may need to set up Tableau Bridge to bring your on-premise data to Tableau Online. With the help of this blog, you will be able to leverage Tableau Bridge and create a live connection to on-premise data for Tableau Online.

Note: Tableau Desktop and Tableau Bridge were both on version 2020.2 at the time of this writing.

Tableau Bridge Set up

Tableau Bridge is the solution that allows you to connect your on-premise data to Tableau Online. It is free software that can be downloaded from the official link here. The installation is straight forward, you will be asked to log in to your Tableau Online account. If it is successful, you will see two modes available like the snapshot below.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

You can find the differences between the two modes below:

Application ModeService Mode
1Windows ApplicationWindows Service
2Any dedicated user logged on to Windows can use Application ModeMust be a local administrator on your computer to use the Service Mode
3More control over when the Tableau Bridge client is performing maintenance tasks (i.e., refreshes on a schedule and live queries)The common practice is to deploy Tableau Bridge on a Virtual Machine that is always on and running maintenance tasks in Service mode

Connect to Datasource

To connect a data source to Tableau Bridge, you need Tableau Desktop from which you can publish a data source. In this example, the data source used is a private Microsoft SQL Server. You do not have to worry about your credentials being exposed to the Cloud, because they are maintained within the Windows Credential Manager.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

Once you connect your data to Tableau Desktop, you have the option to maintain a live connection or create an extract connection. In this example, ‘Sales Data’ is the data source that needs to be connected using Tableau Bridge.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

Publish your Datasource

From the Tableau Desktop menu, under Server, you can choose to publish your data source. You also have an option to start Tableau Bridge directly from Tableau Desktop.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

In the pop-up that appears, you can choose a project, enter the name, description, and tags. You also have the option to set up custom permissions specifically for the data source.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

Authentication can be set up as well which varies according to the data source that you are using.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

Finally, you can choose to maintain a live connection to your data source. You can also check the box below so that your current workbook is updated to use the published data source from Tableau Online.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

Once you click ‘Publish’, your data source will be published to Tableau Online and Tableau Bridge automatically adds this data source to its list.

Maintain Tableau Bridge Data Sources

The status of all your data sources connected can be seen in the Tableau Bridge window. Only when the status is at ‘Connected’, you will be able to run Tableau Workbooks that use those data sources.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

In Tableau Desktop, you also have the option to edit the details of the connection.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

You will have the option to change the Sign In information and choose the data source used.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

You can see the published data source in Tableau Online, where you have the option to directly modify the connection details.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge
Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

In Tableau Online, you can see all your Tableau Bridge connections in one place where information like Connection Status, Computer Name, Owner, Version, and Last Connected information is available. You can delete your Tableau Bridge connection directly within Tableau Online without having to connect to that computer.

Tableau Online – Connect your Live data using Tableau Bridge

If you have multiple data sources and multiple Tableau Bridge connections, then Load Balancing comes into the picture. You can leave the Pool settings to default, which will distribute live queries and extract refreshes across all Tableau Bridge clients linked to the Tableau Online Site. Or you can disable this, by choosing the option ‘Not Pooled’.

To conclude, Tableau Bridge is the perfect way to bring your on-premise data within Tableau Online without much effort. To learn more about Tableau, check out our blog series here.


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