Teaching Tableau Server - Part Three

We're now in our third instalment of Teaching Tableau Server, and are about to get our hands dirty and install Tableau Server onto our correctly spec'd Windows machine.

Where to get the installation files

For the exam we need to know where to find the Tableau Server installation files.  Luckily that's easy, they're at http://www.tableau.com/products/server/download.  Alternatively, if you need to install an earlier version all of the install files, all release notes for Tableau Server 4.0.0 onwards are on the "Alternative Download Site" at http://www.tableau.com/support/esdalt


So, just like any other software installation, double click on the install .exe and await to be guided through a series of options to install and configure.

Unless you absolutely must, keep to the recommended install location.  Tableau Server will now install itself.  Once installed you're going to have to configure Tableau Server

Configuration - General Settings

After installation is complete the Tableau Server Configuration utility opens.  The "General" tab is the most important as it contains key account credential settings.  We've previously discussed identifying an account under which Tableau Server can run.  By default it will run under the NetworkService account.  The first dialogue box (pictured below) allows you to amend this:

Next, and perhaps the most important setting as it cannot be changed (unlike every other configuration setting) is selecting the authentication method.  For the Tableau Server Qualified Associate exam we simply need to know that Active Directory vs. Local Authentication are the options - and that this is the place to set it.

Again, we've touched on this - the next option is to change the default port.  Keep the other defaults such as "open port in Windows firewall" and "Include sample data and users".

We've now set up the key Tableau Server setting and will move on to some further configuration options - all of which are changeable at any stage after installation.

Configuration - Data Connections

Views and Workbooks that are published to Tableau Server will have a wide variety of data sources - from live connections to SQL Server, to Excel files and many cloud-based sources such as Google Sheets and Amazon Redshift.  As users interact with these views Tableau Server will cache the data so that subsequent visits to that view can be served faster.

We need to make a choice about our default cache settings.  For the purpose of the Qualified Associate Exam we'll stick to describing the basics of the three options.

The default option, which you should accept unless there is a good reason not to, is to keep the cache for as long as possible.  This way people viewing Views and Workbooks will get a faster user experience from using cached data rather than having to wait for Tableau Server to query the underlying database.

The second option it to have a Balanced cache.  This option allows you to instruct Tableau Server to remove the cache after a specified number of minutes.  This would work well in situations where your underlying data gets updated on an hourly basis.  Setting the cache to clear after 60 minutes will allow users to always get the latest data available.

The third and final option is to "Refresh more often".  This forces Tableau Server to query the underlying database on each page reload.  This is resource intensive, but useful if you're working on realtime databases and require real-time reporting.

Configuration - Servers

It is on this tab that we can configure the number and distribution of processes across our installation.   Tableau have worked hard on coming up with optimal default options and the advice is, don't change the default unless you a) know what you're doing and b) absolutely have to.  My recommendation would be to seek advice from Tableau or a Tableau Partner before thinking about changing the process configuration.  They will have significant experience of all the types of workload that can be put through a Tableau Server, and be able to offer first-hand expertise about the best configuration for your use case.

So, for the Qualified Associate exam we need to know this is where to configure our processes.  We also need to have a summary understanding of the work that each of the processes performs.  We'll do this in Lesson 4.

The remaining tabs in the Tableau Server Configuration Utility tool are concerned with e-mail alerts and Single Sign On (SSO) options.  We simply need to know of their existence and the basics of their functions.  The Qualified Associate exam will not go into a huge amount of detail on, for example, the merits of Kerberos vs. SAML (thankfully!)

Configuration - SMTP

This set of options allows you specify the mail server settings that will allow Tableau Server to send e-mail alerts and subscriptions to users as well as e-mail alerts to the Tableau Server administrator in the event of failures or errors.

Configuration - Alerts and Subscriptions:  This tab allows you to specify whether or not to turn on Alerts and Subscriptions

Configuration - SSL:  This tab allows you to configure SSL so that all communications between the browser and the server are encrypted.

Configuration - SAML / Kerberos / SAP HANA: These tabs allow you to configure a range of alternative Single Sign On services that allow you to manage your Tableau Server credentials

Configuration Complete

So now all the configuration setting have been entered, Tableau Server will start all of the processes and be ready to use.  However there is one final step before you can navigate the the Web UI.  We need to set up an administrator account

This account has complete control to administer every aspect of the Tableau Server.  Depending on the authentication method you chose earlier this will either be an existing AD account or a new local Tableau Server account.

Next Steps

The next steps of this training guide - the aim of which is to to prepare you for the Tableau Server Qualified Associate Exam - is to go over the processes that combine to form Tableau Server.  There are a number of processes that have very distinct and important roles that you will need an understanding of for the exam.

Keep an eye out for Teaching Tableau Server - Part Four which is coming soon!

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