In many organisations you are likely to find increasing demand for users to directly access the data themselves, enabling them to build their own custom tabular reports or carry out ad-hoc investigations without being dependent on a different team, such as IT or BI, to assist.
The Tableau web edit functionality allows tableau developers to open up the data directly to the users in a relatively simple way and it gives similar, although not as flexible, data access to using an Excel pivot table.
When using web edit in Tableau Server there are a few things to consider in terms of data usability for the less data savvy users plus whether the users should have the ability to save their creations. In addition Tableau web edit permissions need to be set up correctly to allow users to edit and save in the appropriate places.
The first point about user-friendliness is very important. Most users are familiar with dragging and dropping flat tabular data within an Excel pivot table. As a developer replicating this comfortable functionality within web edit is likely to increase usage. This means ensuring the supplied data sources are also flat and clearly named – any calculated fields built in extracts for other dashboards will need to be removed. Simplicity is essential unless you want to spend much of your day fielding basic usage questions…or even worse, have no users at all.
Your Tableau self-service should provide the following:
- The user is able to edit a template workbook
- The user can’t overwrite the template workbook
- The user is able to save their reports
- The user can’t save in the same place as the template workbooks – this could confuse and clutter the template area
To meet these requirements I suggest creating two new projects on the server, one to host the templates for users to web edit and another for users to save their creations.
I host my web edit templates in a project called Self Service as ‘web edit’ is unlikely to mean much to most users. I have another project, Self Service User Workbooks, where users can save their own reports.
The worksheet templates you create are the base of what users will edit to create their own reports. Personally I prefer to keep these as simple as possible, I publish a worksheet, not a dashboard, with one measure and one dimension so it’s cleaner for the users when they begin to edit.
To meet our requirements users must have edit functionality in the Self Service and Self Service User Workbooks projects. They need to be able to save into Self Service User Workbooks and NOT save into Self Service. This is where we need to make use of permissions. Web Edit permissions are not always super obvious, setting up the Self Service project as follows works well:
Under ‘Interact’ ticking Web Edit provides the Edit button to the report users. Connect allows the user to connect to the data source, needed to be able to edit.
Under ‘Edit’ we aren’t allowing the user to Save into this folder. We don’t want them accidentally overwriting the templates or polluting the Self Service folder with their own workbooks.
A key here is Download. This opens up the Save and Save As buttons.
Without ‘DOWNLOAD’ ticked the Save options WON’T appear. Both save options come together, it’s currently not possible to have one without the other. Clicking the Save without permissions to save automatically becomes a Save As anyway so not a massive problem.
The permissions of Self Service User Workbooks should be as follows:
The difference for this project is that ‘Save’ is allowed.
Another thing to note, although Delete is disabled a user will still be able to delete THEIR workbooks, just not any other workbooks.
Now you’re set up and good to go, all that’s left is to train the users in best practise, maybe not to try and show 10,000,000 records in a table they build…