Getting Started with Tableau Web Data Connectors

Tableau web data connectors is one of the biggest shortcuts I’ve seen in a while. It was just added in Tableau 9.1 and it’s a game changer if you work with data found on the web.

I’m a big fan of short cuts. Most people are.

Here’s the thing

Taking a shortcut can save you lots of time, but can also hurt you in the long run if you aren’t smart about it. I did a bunch of research and have compiled all of my notes to show you the short cuts and still giving some background information so you know what’s going on behind the scenes (which is important!)

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  1. How to get started with Tableau Web Data Connectors
  2. How to share your Tableau Web Data Connectors with the world
  3. A short cut to get data from pretty much any website into Tableau

Bonus Upgrades

Want to save some time? Get the listing of 20+ Tableau Web Data connectors PLUS a free checklist version of this post.

Tableau Web Data Connectors

Think about something that’s important to you. Maybe it’s related to your work, or your family, or a hobby. For example, perhaps you’re interested in sports.

Let’s face it

These days there’s data floating around for just about every hobby or interest under the sun. For example, I’m a big fan of football and love digging into the data and statistics behind the game.

Here’s the problem: that data is a real pain to work with.

But good news! Tableau figured out a super easy way to get that data into any dashboard you can imagine with no coding required.

In this step-by-step tutorial, I’ll show you the background info you need to understand how it all works PLUS a super smart shortcut that will save you time and tons of frustration.

Part 1 Tableau WDC SDK Installation

One of the great things that Tableau offers is an easy way to connect to your data. A new feature in Tableau 9.1 are web data connectors. Web data connectors are an easy way to import your data from an existing API directly into Tableau so that you can create dashboards very easily.

Tableau Web Data Connectors Screenshot
Tableau Web Data Connectors Screenshot

How Tableau Web Data Connectors work

  1. Find (or create) a web data connector that you need
  2. Connect to the data in Tableau 9.1
  3. Build your dashboard
Getting Started with Tableau Web Data Connectors
Getting Started with Tableau Web Data Connectors

How to get started with Tableau Web Data Connectors

Warning: building a web data connector from scratch is not all that easy. You’ll need to know:

  • JavaScript
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • How REST APIs work
  • Other web programming skills

The good news is that Tableau provides a free software bundle with a few examples that you can use to get started. They also provide a detailed tutorial for more advanced Tableau developers.

Watch a 2 minute overview of how to get started with Tableau Web Data Connectors

Part 2 Free hosting with GitHub

One of the more complicated pieces of web data connectors is finding a place to host your WDC files. You’ll likely have HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files that need to be stored online so that others can use them. Github is the best option to store your source code securely so that others can access your files.

Why use Github?

  • Automatically store all of your data with full backups
  • Used by millions of people to collaborate with others on coding projects
  • Most importantly … free hosting

How to create and host your Tableau Web Data connector on Github for free

  1. Create a free Github account
  2. Create a repository named username.github.io and clone it to your computer
  3. Add an index.html file (download my example copy here)
  4. Copy the MadMoneyScraper.html from the Tableau SDK to your new repository
  5. Sync the files from your computer back up to Github
  6. Visit username.github.io to view your index file and username.github.io/MadMoneyScraper.html to view the Tableau WDC SDK

Watch this step-by-step tutorial to create your first Github repository and add your Web Data Connector files

Part 3 Import data from any website into Tableau

Okay, Part 1 and Part 2 really help you understand what Tableau Web Data Connectors are and why you’d want to use them.

Part 3 will show you how to bypass all of the technical challenges and just get the data you need without any coding at all using a tool called import.io

Why use Import.io?

  • You get a free account to collect data from pretty much any website.
  • Lots of options to automate your data collection as needed
  • Most importantly… there’s a Tableau Web Data Connector already built!

Here’s the thing

The hardest part now will be finding the data you want. But if the data is on a public website (not behind a firewall or login screen) then you can use import.io to collect that data.

How to use import.io to get data into Tableau with no coding

  1. Create a free import.io account
  2. Add the web address of the page you want to scrape (NFL stats for example)
  3. Configure each of the columns as needed (this could take some trial and error)
  4. Use the import.io Tableau Web Data Connector created by Robert Rouse at Interworks
  5. Build your dashboard in a fraction of the time.

Watch this step-by-step tutorial to get data from any web page into Tableau in less than 10 minutes with no coding.

Bonus Upgrades

Want to save some time? Get the listing of 20+ Tableau Web Data connectors PLUS a free checklist version of this post.

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