BREAKING BI NEWS: 2014 Gartner BI Magic Quadrant was just released. It is a must read…Tableau has risen to the top, Spotfire and Qlik edged up, Birst is now on the leaders radar while Microsoft, Microstrategy and few other player have fallen a bit…Much more to come on that one this week.

Thank you to the folks in Tampa that attended my SQL Saturday class and Tableau + Microsoft BI Better Together session. I was so incredibly tired during Saturday’s presentation, I don’t recall if I shared these two tips or not. Regardless I wanted to post them for everyone out there that combines both of these excellent BI platforms together.

Last year I blogged several times about combining Tableau + Microsoft BI . I also have a free webinar on this topic and deck on SlideShare. Looking to improve upon my original deck, I decided to add a few more details on integrating Tableau with Microsoft Reporting Services since it has come up fairly often this past year.

First of all, why would someone want to integrate Tableau with Microsoft Reporting Services? I can think of a few common scenarios where this makes a lot of sense.

  1. You want a Tableau viz action to link to an existing Reporting Services detail report.
  2. You want a Tableau dashboard to display an existing Reporting Services report.
  3. You want a grid in Tableau that exceeds the current 16 column limit.
  4. You want a grid in Tableau that has advanced conditional display logic capability.
  5. You want a long, multiple page detail level report to be accessible via Tableau.
  6. You want detail data export capabilities that are better done with Reporting Services options.
  7. You want to try this simply for fun and kicks…

So HOW can you combine there two solutions together? It is easy, breezy. First of all you will need a Reporting Services report to exist on a Report Server with or without parameters defined. To add that Reporting Services report to a Tableau dashboard, simply add a Web Page object and edit the URL. In the URL path, you will copy the path of the Reporting Services report using the URL Access approach. To pass parameters from Tableau to Reporting Services to see a dynamic versus a static Reporting Services report, you can use Tableau parameters or Tableau filters and map those to Reporting Services parameters in the URL string.

The other option in Tableau is to add a Tableau Dashboard URL Action that links to a Reporting Services report and optionally passes parameter values to it. This time you will add the Reporting Services URL Path in the Tableau Dashboard URL Action dialog as shown below.


The syntax in my example is as follows:


My demo Reporting Services report has one parameter Age (&Age). I decided to define a Tableau parameter called Age (Parameters.AgeParm) to simplify the parameter mapping between the two BI platforms. I also chose to hide the Reporting Services Toolbar in my examples using the URL Access approach option of &rc:Toolbar=false so it would look a bit nicer. However, you don’t have to hide that Toolbar. You may want to have it shown for the robust detail data export use cases with the Reporting Services engine.

That is all there is to it in combining Tableau with Microsoft Reporting Services. I am sure that there are other small tid bits but honestly this is all you need to do. Enjoy getting creative with this cool combined BI solution.