Tableau is a powerful data visualization tool that helps users with a non-technical background to easily analyze raw data in the most understandable format. It helps create interactive visuals that can be shared and used by anyone in an organization.
Tableau and Google Sheets integration combines the flexibility of work collaboration of Google Sheets and high-quality data visualizations from Tableau. This article will present all the different ways you can leverage Tableau integration with Google Sheets.
Can you connect Tableau to Google Sheets?
In Tableau 10, you can directly connect your Google Sheets tables, manipulate data and perform insightful analysis. Even though you cannot establish a stable Tableau data to Google Sheets connection, you can manually import your Tableau visualizations into your Google Sheets. This way, you can easily share beautiful visualizations and insightful results with your team, and in this article you are about to learn how to do that.
Linking Tableau with Google Sheets
Before you begin, you will need:
- A valid licence to use Tableau
- A data source with raw data, organized in a Google Sheets file
- Fundamental knowledge of Tableau
How to set up your data source in Tableau
- Launch Tableau.
- Under “Connect“, in the “To a Server” section, select: More > Google Sheets.
An authentication window will open automatically to validate your Gmail address and give permission to Tableau to enter your Google Drive files.
- Step 2a: Select the Google account you want to link with Tableau.
- Step 2b: Allow Tableau to “See and download all your Google Drive files“.
- Once you see the following message in your browser window, you can safely close the window.
- After the successful authentication of your Google account, a pop-up with all of your Google Sheets files will appear in the Tableau window.
- You can simplify your search by typing your file’s name in the search field.
- After you find and select your data source, click “Connect“.
- After you select your data source, you will land in a window, as appears in the below screenshot, where you will be able to find:
- The Google Sheets file(s) you linked with Tableau.
- The sheets of your Google Sheets file.
- The area where you should drop the sheet with your raw data.
- Drag and drop the sheet you want, in the respective area (1), and click on “Sheet 1” (2).
- You are now ready to analyze your data and start building your visualizations.
How to connect more data in Tableau
In the real world, the data we need to analyze is not always included in one table. In this case, Tableau provides the ability to connect more tables by using joins.
There are two ways to add more Google Sheets tables in Tableau working area:
- You can add a new sheet from an existing Google Sheets file.
- You can add a brand new Google Sheets file.
Add a new sheet from an existing Google Sheet file
- In the “Data Source” screen, drag and drop the table you wish to add in your files area.
- A pop-up will appear in order to define your matching key for the two files.
- Tableau automatically recognizes a matching key from the two tables, but you can select or add a different key by clicking in one of the dimensions and choosing from the list that appears.
- Click on the “Sheet 1” in the bottom of your screen and start analyzing the data.
Add a brand new Google Sheet file
- In the “Data Source” window, click “Add” under the “Connections” section.
- Select: More > Google Sheets, under the “To a Server” section.
- Authenticate your Google account to add the Google Sheets file in your Tableau working area.
- Select the Google Sheet file from the pop up window and click “Connect“.
- Drag and drop the sheet you want to add.
- Select your matching key from the pop-up and click “Sheet 1” to start visualizing.
Common Google Sheets issues and how to fix them
When you try to connect Tableau with Google Sheets and you get the following error:
“Internal Error – An unexpected error occurred and the operation could not be completed.”
It is more likely that your Google Sheet calculations include errors like #DIV/0! or #N/A. In this case, Tableau cannot complete the connection process and an error message appears. To resolve this issue, you need to use the IFERROR() function in your Google Sheets tables and have it return a blank or any value that’s appropriate.
Let’s see a practical example, where the table below includes a #DIV/0! Error.
In order to fix this issue and let Tableau complete the linking process, wrap up the IFERROR() function in your calculation:
Exporting data from Tableau to Google Sheets
And what if you need to move data in a reverse direction – from Tableau to Google Sheets? You may need this to share some insights or report on calculated metrics, etc. It would be great if this data export was automated so you would not have to manually copy and paste data every time. To do this job, you can use Coupler.io, a solution to extract and collect your data from multiple data sources in Google Sheets/Excel/BigQuery.
Coupler.io provides many ready-to-use Google Sheets integrations for different apps such as Airtable or Jira, but there is none for Tableau yet. If you need it, fill out this form and tell us about it.
For now, you can benefit from a Tableau to Google Sheets template to export your data.
To use it, you’ll need to install the Coupler.io add-on for Google Sheets from the Google Workspace Marketplace. After that, make a copy of the template and follow the instructions in it.
How to embed your Tableau visualization to Google Sheets
Google Sheets provides a limited number of chart types to visualize your data. If your goal is to just explore your raw data is quite enough, but if you are looking for a complete and insightful data story, you have to use Tableau. Even though you cannot connect Tableau data to Google Sheets, you can embed your Tableau visualization into your Google Sheets file.
Please note that it is not an automatically updated procedure. Every time you update the data in your Google Sheets file, you have to take the steps below from scratch in order to update your Tableau visualization and re-import it to Google Sheets as well.
Add a single chart into Google Sheets
- When you have your visualization ready, select: Worksheet > Copy > Image.
- In the pop-up, you choose the elements you want to show in your image export and the location of your legend.
- Click “Copy” to keep the image in your Clipboard.
- Open your Google Sheets file and select the sheet you want to add the Tableau visual.
- Go to Edit > Paste.
- Customize your view, by adding some comments based on your graph.
- That’s it! You can keep adding visuals to your Google Sheet file, until you complete your story.
Add a Tableau dashboard into your Google Sheets
- When you have your dashboard ready, select: Dashboard > Copy Image.
- Open your Google Sheets file and select the sheet you want to add, the Tableau visual.
- Go to Edit > Paste.
- Customize your view, by adding some comments based on your graph.
- You are ready to share your insights with your colleagues!
Benefits of using Tableau with Google Sheets
- Combine Google Sheets ability of collaboration in cloud and high-quality data visualizations of Tableau.
- Analyze your data and create interactive dashboards.
- Share your reports and insights with everyone in your team.
- Update automatically your dashboards.
Limitations of Tableau integration with Google Sheets
- Even though you can combine different tables from multiple data sources, table joins can be complex and challenging, especially for beginners.
- Google Sheets is extremely powerful, but it does have limitations.
- Errors in your Google Sheets files can break your whole connection with Tableau.
- Tableau visualizations in Google Sheets cannot be updated automatically.
What connections are available on Tableau?
There is no doubt that most organizations use one or more of Google’s services. Tableau integrates seamlessly with the entire Google Cloud Platform, such as Google Analytics, Google Drive, and Google BigQuery. We already have a detailed guide on how to establish a connection between Tableau and Google BigQuery.
Tableau can connect to various types of data sources. You can connect and analyze data from text files, PDFs, databases, live servers and others. The list is getting longer and longer to serve every need in the Business Intelligence Industry. Here are the Tableau connectors available in the current Tableau version (2021.1):
- Microsoft Excel
- Text File
- Microsoft Access
- JSON File
- PDF File
- Spatial File
- Statistical File
- Other Files
- Tableau Server or Tableau Online
- Actian Matrix
- Actian Vectorwise
- Alibaba AnalyticDB for MySQL
- Alibaba Data Lake Analytics
- Alibaba MaxCompute
- Amazon Athena
- Amazon Aurora for MySQL
- Amazon EMR Hadoop Hive
- Amazon Redshift
- Apache Drill
- Aster Database
- Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2
- Azure SQL Database
- Azure SQL Synapse Analytics
- Cloudera Hadoop
- Esri ArcGIS Server
- Firebird 3
- Google Ads
- Google Analytics
- Google BigQuery
- Google Cloud SQL
- Google Drive
- Google Sheets
- Hortonworks Hadoop Hive
- IBM BigInsights
- IBM DB2
- IBM PDA (Netezza)
- Intuit QuickBooks Online
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
- MapR Hadoop Hive
- Microsoft Analysis Services
- Microsoft PowerPivot
- Microsoft SQL Server
- MongoDB BI Connector
- Oracle Eloqua
- Oracle Essbase
- Pivotal Greenplum
- Progress OpenEdge
- Qubole Presto
- SAP HANA
- SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse
- SAP Sybase ASE
- SAP Sybase IQ
- ServiceNow ITSM
- SharePoint Lists
- Spark SQL
- Teradata OLAP Connector
- TIBCO Data Virtualization (Cisco Information Server)
- Web Data Connector
- Other Databases (JDBC)
- Other Databases (ODBC)
- Connectors Built Using the Connector SDK
To wrap up: Google Data Studio instead of Tableau
Tableau is a powerful data visualization tool, but it’s not free. This is the reason why small to medium-sized businesses opt for an alternative — Google Data Studio. It lags behind Tableau in different aspects, but wins in pricing because Data Studio is free.
You can easily connect your Google Sheets doc to Data Studio for building the dashboards you want. Check out our Data Studio Tutorial for more about this. Make the best choice for your business. Good luck!