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Dynamic Parameters on Tableau

Posted by Diego em Outubro 29, 2015


This is my solution to deal with Dynamic Parameters on Tableau.

Just to recap, the problem is related to the fact that, once a parameter list is populated on Tableau Desktop and the workbook is deployed to the server, is it not possible to update the list if new values are required.


I should start by saying that this is not a simple solution. 

I mean, the code actually is but unfortunately there is more to it, mainly because it will require you to republish the dashboard using tabcmd (or any other means) each time you want to change the parameter.

But that’s what I’ve got until Tableau decides to support this so requested functionality.



My idea is to use python to access the workbook’s XML, navigating the tree to the desired parameter (on my example called “MyParameter”), clear it’s values (except for the value “None” – this is my particular use case and can be removed very easily) and then inject the desired new values based on a list.



This is a before\after example – as expected, the list has been updated:







And here is the core code:

def ParameterUpdate(envname, dashboardname):
    #the 5 lines bellow are optional. It can be used if the Source\Destination Dashboards are expected to be on a
    #different path than the one the python file is executing, which is often the case, but not for this example:
    configfile = resource_filename(__name__, 'tableau.ini')
    config = ConfigParser.ConfigParser()
    inputdir = config.get(envname, "InputDirectory")
    outputdir = config.get(envname, "OutputDirectory")

    #reads the twb file
    tableaufile = ElementTree.parse('{0}/{1}.twb'.format(inputdir, dashboardname))

    #gets a list with the new parameters
    new_parameter_list = __getNewParameterlist()

    #gets the root XML
    fileroot = tableaufile.getroot()

    #finds the parameter called "MyParameter"
    xmlsection = fileroot.find("datasources/datasource/column[@caption='{0}']/members".format("MyParameter"))

    #Inject the new list into the XML file
    __injectParameters(xmlsection, new_parameter_list)

    newxmlfile = ElementTree.tostring(fileroot, encoding='UTF-8', method='xml')

    filelocation = '{0}/{1}.twb'.format(outputdir, "Output")
    with open(filelocation, 'w') as text_file:




Of course, this solution requires a whole messaging system between whatever process triggers the parameter update, the python code and the tab cmd that deploys the dashboard, which I won’t be covering here because it is out of this post’s scope.


The complete code and a working examples can be fully downloaded here.




Due to the nature of ElementTree, this code only works on python 2.7 (Not sure about latter versions – I’d imagine it does; pretty sure it doesn’t work on 2.6)



I have been recently shown by one of the product managers on Tableau this other workaround using java script on the server:

Which I’d honestly consider hadn’t I spent time writing my own solution.


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