Best Practices on Using Tableau Performance Recording Effectively

To tune and improve Tableau performance, Tableau has a built-in workbook performance grader that enables you to analyze your workbook’s performance. This is in the form of Tableau Performance Recording.

For Excel files that aren’t too large, you probably won’t need these techniques.  But as your files get larger (both data sources and your workbooks with calculations), and especially as you are getting data from your company’s servers, Tableau performance can really slow down.  Since people are accustomed to getting what they want from the web instantly, having slow workbooks can be detrimental, causing people to move on without consuming your content. 

Using Tableau Performance Recording Effectively, 

  1. Open a brand new, blank Tableau workbook. 
  1. Go to Help > Settings and Performance > Start Performance Recording. 
  1. Now open the workbook that you want to optimize.  This will record how long it takes for all the individual charts and dashboard elements to load initially.   
  1. Now click through your workbook – filters, actions, different dashboards, Storypoints, etc.  Utilize all the functionality you’ve built into the workbook. 
  1. Once done, go back to the Help menu and choose stop recording. 
  1. Tableau will automatically create a new workbook with the stats of your Tableau performance recording.  It will show you what took a long time and where the hold ups in the process were.  If your data is a Live connection, it will also show you which calculations run slowly. 
Tableau Performance Recording
  1. For more information on how to interpret this, go to the following link: https://onlinehelp.tableau.com/current/server/en-us/perf_record_interpret_server.htm  

Bonus: More Tips on Tableau Performance Best Practices 

  • Use extracts as much as possible. 
  • If generally working at a higher level of aggregation than the level of grain of your data, use your extract to aggregate at a higher level to boost processing times.  It’s less overall data for Tableau to crunch through when you are building views. 
  • Use data source filters to reduce the amount of data you are bringing in.  i.e. Eliminate fields you don’t need. 
Tableau Performance Best Practices
  • This could be a calculation in your SQL or Excel file, or it could be in an extract that you’ve published to Server, and then connect to in your workbook you are working in. 
  • Avoid string calculations where possible.   
  • Tableau evaluates integers the fastest, then Boolean (true/false) values, then strings.  
  • Often string calculations can be converted into Boolean or integer calcs.  For example, the following calculation: “If sum([Sales]) > $5000 then ‘Show’ else ‘Hide’ end” could be rewritten to be faster as “sum([Sales]) > 5000.”  It’s now a Boolean and will evaluate faster when you drop that on your filter shelf. 
  • Delete unused calculations in a workbook. 
  • Often you will create calculations that you end up not needing.  Clean these up before you publish. 
  • Create ZN and Ifnull calcs to eliminate nulls, which slow things down. 
  • Eliminate text heavy tables in Tableau.  Tableau was built to render graphics first and textual elements second.  The more you can visually present information and minimize text, especially large text tables, the faster your workbook will run. 
  • Avoid using Custom SQL wherever possible.  Use Tableau’s multiple table and joining options in the data connection window. 
  • When adding a table to a data source with joins, select the ‘tables’ option from the data. Tableau will skip several validation steps in this case. 
  • Use as few data sources as needed to achieve your analysis. Remove any unused data sources.  

We absolutely love sharing these Tableau performance pro tips and best practices with you. If you want to take your learning to the next level, be sure to check our Tableau training classes.