Tableau Server: Performance Optimization Flowchart


A few months back, I did a Tableau Community Spotlight on Robert Rouse (Click here to see the blog post).

Robert recently posted an incredible Tableau Performance Optimization Flowchart through his company, Interworks.

Robert points out,

Everyone looking at a dashboard expects it to load and respond quickly. What defines “fast” varies from one person to another. As we discussed recently on our Tableau Performance episode of “Podcast Your Data!,” something that takes minutes to load could still feel fast compared to the effort it took before automating things in Tableau. No matter the benchmark, we want things to be quicker. Now, we have a performance troubleshooting guide to navigate you through the steps to improve Tableau dashboard load times.


Framing Tableau Server’s Performance Issues

Robert and his team started with a simple, common question: “Why is my Tableau dashboard slow?” If we know what’s causing the slowdown, we then ask: “What can I do to fix it?” The answers fall into a few basic categories:

  • Strain on Tableau Server resources
  • Database responsiveness (including Tableau extracts)
  • Amount of data to render
  • Updating UI elements like drop-down filters
  • Calculation efficiency

Out of their discussions, Robert created The Tableau Performance Checklist which covers these areas, explains likely problems and offers solutions to each. Robert notes that not every part of the checklist will apply to everyone’s specific pain points and situations. However, he felt what we needed was a step-by-step guide to help us narrow down the possibilities, ignoring the things that don’t apply and focusing on the ones that do.

The first few steps in the flowchart help you determine if there’s a problem with the server or the underlying data architecture. From there, it helps you find issues with dashboard design, calculations and other common problems.

You can download the full PDF version of the chart, including hyperlinks to additional resources, at the bottom of this post. Here’s a quick glimpse of page one:

Tableau Perf Checklist Page 1 snippet

Load Time Isn’t Everything

Robert stresses to people that “slow” isn’t limited to load times. As you’re evaluating performance, don’t forget to ask yourself and your audience these questions:

  • How long do people have to wait for dashboard design changes?
  • How much time does it take a user to understand the data presented?
  • Does it take several clicks (and wait between each click) to get the desired view?

He also points out that even if your dashboard loads in less than five seconds, you may not have solved the most important performance problems. If it takes days or weeks to change things, is difficult to use or makes the data hard to understand, then focus on solving those problems first. People will give you grace for a few extra seconds to load something if it saves them time and frustration in other important ways.

Further Reading Recommended by Robert

Anyone who designs Tableau dashboards should read Tableau’s “Designing Efficient Workbooks” whitepaper. It’s lengthy, but more than worth the time invested. The PDF version of the Tableau Performance Troubleshooting Flow Chart links to several things in the Tableau Performance Checklist, but it can’t cover every scenario. Read through the checklist and dive into the related posts for more solutions.



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