Earlier this week Tableau 10.3 general availability was announced. Honoring crowd pleasing announcements from Tableau Conference 2016, this release includes much anticipated data-driven alerting, intelligent joins, cool connectors such as Amazon Athena, Adobe PDF files and Tableau Bridge for live hybrid on-premises to cloud data source connectivity. Let’s check it out.

Data-Driven Alerting

My top wish list item was finally delivered. I have been asking for alerts since 2013. I know most users in the real world don’t want and/or have the time to stare at dashboards all day. They also don’t look at emailed report subscriptions after a while. Today systems are smart enough to tell us when we should be taking action. Now Tableau is smart enough to do it too.


Since I review many analytics solutions, I questioned the Tableau analyst relations team on what makes this data-driven alerting implementation special. Why did it take so long? Here is the answer.

Like all things Tableau designs, the data-driven alert user experience was thoughtfully developed. This group does not copy existing vendor implementations. They carefully explore intent, flow of analysis and the art of the possible to improve analytics experiences. Honestly, Tableau’s approach to design and overall user experience is extraordinary. That is the magic that elevated them from a crowd of competing solutions.

Tableau alerts

During the demo, I was shown a rather unique and elegant alerting experience. As the user selects a data point to be alerted on during the analytics workflow, Tableau visually highlights what data would be triggered or included. Visual guidance combined with the exploratory workflow design is what makes Tableau’s alerting innovative.

Intelligent Joins

To simplify developing dashboards from numerous tables or data sources, Tableau 10.3 provides automated table and join recommendations powered by machine learning algorithms.

Tableau joins

For non-technical users, this improvement will be invaluable. As a technical professional, I learned about inner, outer, left, right, full, and cross join types a zillion years ago. Most non-technical users probably don’t know join types to get accurate data for reporting. Thus, this feature will also be warmly welcomed by technical staff that had to answer data source issue inquiries for issues that did not exist but rather were related to applying incorrect join types.

New Data Sources

Tableau touts more than 75 data sources via 66 connectors without any programming. In this release, they added six more including Amazon Athena, ServiceNow, MongoDB, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive.

Tableau pdf_connector

A lovely connector for extracting data from Adobe PDF documents in one click also debuts. If you report on public data sources, copying and pasting tables from Adobe PDF documents was a tedious process. I’m happy to see Tableau add this wonderful capability for Adobe PDF table parsing. In the past, I used Datawatch for unstructured data source extraction. I’d probably keep referring Datawatch for advanced Adobe PDF data extraction processes and other unstructured data source types that are beyond what Tableau provides.

Hybrid Connectivity

A significant advancement in Tableau’s cloud BI offering, Tableau Online, is new Tableau Bridge. Tableau Bridge enables a direct connection to data stored on premises directly in the cloud. Hybrid cloud BI is extremely important to help customers during the inevitable cloud transition. The secure implementation of Tableau Bridge is similar to other hybrid cloud BI solutions.

I previously wrote about data gravity and shared other types of solutions for live hybrid connectivity in cloud BI apps. You do need to be keenly aware of data gravity challenges. Successful live hybrid queries require encryption of data, reporting on smaller data sets, increasing data source query timeouts and limiting the distance between the data source and dashboards to reduce latency. You also might need to ask about data caching settings to get acceptable performance.

Test and optimize live hybrid cloud BI queries to avoid disappointing users

Please note that I have not tested the Tableau Bridge connector yet. It might pleasantly surprise me. However, live hybrid cloud BI query demos consistently failed for me – even with tiny data sets – no matter where I was giving them with another vendor’s cloud BI solution. Thus, I would be cautious about relying on live hybrid cloud BI queries with any cloud BI solution. My advice to you is to test thoroughly with the real data sources and real dashboards in the actual user locations.

Summary of What’s New in Tableau 10.3

Here is a listing of what is new in this release. Latest date filter options, distribute evenly for easier dashboard design spacing, tooltip related data analysis, and customized subscriptions are also likely to delight Tableau dashboard authors.

Visual Analytics

  • Latest date presets
  • Distribute evenly
  • Tooltip selection
  • More maps data
  • Apply table calc filters to totals


  • Data-driven alerts
  • Web authoring updates
  • Story points navigator
  • Android improvements
  • Universal linking for Tableau Online
  • Smart banners for Tableau Server


  • Smart table & join recommendations
  • PDF connector
  • Amazon Athena connector
  • MongoDB BI connector
  • ServiceNow ITSM connector
  • Dropbox
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • JSON connector update
  • Union updates


  • Custom subscriptions
  • REST API support for tagging data sources and views
  • REST API support for switching sites
  • REST API support for getting sites
  • JavaScript API support for Undo/Redo customization
  • Automatic query caching
  • Tableau Bridge for Tableau Online

For additional information, refer to the online interactive feature overviews and Tableau online docs.