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How to point a Tableau dashboard to an excel file on a share location

Posted by Diego em Setembro 30, 2014

This post shows how you can deploy a dashboard that connects to a excel spread sheet without using extracts or shipping the spread sheet to the server, thus making it available to users to modify the data and being able to see the changes in real time. Of course, if someone messes with the “metadata” (column names for example) or rename\move the spread sheet, the dashboard will break.

I imagine there may be other ways to accomplish this. but that’s the easiest one I could find.

1)      Place the excel file on a network share

2)      Create workbook

3)      Connect to data -> Microsoft excel (on the network share)

4)      Right click the data source and select “Publish to server”


5)      Uncheck the option “Include External Files” (this is the most important part. if you select this option, tableau will ship a copy of your file to the server and use it to feed the dashboard)


6)      The data source can be seen at
Note that this is an isolated action, the fact that you published the data source didn’t affect the current dashboard you are working on.
If you want to test that, just publish the workbook and update the excel sheet on the share; the published workbook wont reflect the changes but tableau desktop will.
And the reason is that when you published the dashboard, a copy of the source data was published together, so it is not looking at the data on the share anymore.


So how to read the data from the published data source (that reads from the share):


8)      On a new workbook:

a.       Connect to data  -> Tableau Server

b.      Select the data source published before

c.       Pay attention to the icon:


d.      Publish the dashboard and it will read the data from the share

9)      On the workbook we initially were working on:

a.       Do the same as the previous item like if it was a new dashboard

b.      Right click the new data source

c.       Select “replace data source”

d.      Close the old datasource

e.      Publish the workbook


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