FOR ANALYSTS FOR BI PROS FOR EVERYONE Tableau
Tableau to Excel: our free Tableau Extractor tool
April 23, 2016
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Educating users and customers is not an easy task. Visual analytics always beats boring tabular reports but sometimes people still want their hundred megabytes multitab excel files. We all know that guy who begs for crosstab excel export from his favourite Tableau dashboard. No worries, we have a solution for for him and you.
Tableau does not have excel export by purpose. They simply do not want to seem like a standard reporting tool. I know customers with large deployments (40+ CPU cores) asking for this feature but Tableau Software simply refuses this enhancement request. So then, what are the current options?

  • Users can click on a specific sheet on a dashboard and then export a CSV via the tiny button on the toolbar. Open it in excel, save as excel.
  • You can export a CSV using Tabcmd. Open it in excel, save as excel.
  • You can add .csv to the end of the URL like

    in the browser. Then you get something (still a CSV), typically, the first sheet on the dashboard alphabetically. And yes, open it in excel…

Some of these methods can grab the underlying data only, not the crosstab data and yes, all of them are CSV based. They do the work, but are not satisfying enough to cover all use cases where users want excel with crosstabs.

Tableau Excel Extractor tool

That’s why we built a fourth (and completely free, open source) solution with a relatively boring name: Starschema Tableau Excel Extractor tool.  It’s a command line tool for extracting data from workbooks based on node.js, so it’s fast and platform independent. It can

  • Export directly to xlsx files
  • Export all the sheets to a single Excel file (Tableau sheets become Excel sheets)
  • Recognize basic data formats: numbers become numbers, etc. so you can do your math immediately
  • Are CSV separators varying sheey-by-sheet? No problem. The tool auto-detects it.
  • Just specify your username/password, copy and paste the (customized) view URL, and press Enter. That’s it.

It works only for custom views (you must save your view as custom) so please make sure you’re not trying to extract the default view.

How to install the tool

Pre-requistes: npm and nodejs should be installed on your system. You can grab them from here: (https://nodejs.org/en/download).
Now from the command line just hit:

(you should do it as superuser). If everything works, the following command should display on the help page:

Usage

Now, open a customized view in tableau, and simply copy the url from the browser address bar.
Copy-paste customized view URL

Copy-paste customized view URL

Then, construct the following command:


So, the last part of the command is the pasted url. Enter and voila. You will be entertained with some text for geeks, but the most important thing is the last line: the generated Excel file name. You can find in in the current directory, if everything went well.

Tableau Excel Extractor in action

Tableau Excel Extractor in action

However, be careful: it is still a proof-of-concept tool. It does not give too much information if something goes wrong, it simply overwrites previously generated Excel files without warning, etc. And as always: use it at your own risk.

Did it work? Are you having issues? Leave a comment.

Tamás Földi

Tamás Földi

Director of IT Development at Starschema
Decades of experience with data processing and state of the art programming. From nuclear bomb explosion simulation to distributed file systems. ethical hacking, real time stream processing practically I always had a great fun with those geeky ones and zeros.
Tamás Földi
  • Matan Zittoun

    hi, when using your tool I get
    info: Authentication: success
    info: Data retrieval for initiated.
    info: Bootstrap for started.
    info: GET:
    error: Error, so dumping response…

    and then debug msg.
    any idea?

    • Matan Zittoun

      using tableau 10.3

      • Seems you’re not passing a valid URL. Can you send me the full log? (you can replace server name and remove user/pass)

        you can also drop a mail if that’s easier

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