Is there a specific format for importing datasets into Tableau?

+1 vote

I am working with some tabular data in R and I want it to import it into Tableau.

I know I can export the data in a variety of file formats (e.g., csv, .xlsx, .rda, etc.), but I'm wondering if there is a preferred file format from the perspective of successfully reading data into Tableau.

For example, when I export a dataset with missing values from R to a csv it codes the missing values as "NA" character strings. Tableau then misinterprets these columns as character columns. I can avoid this error by re-coding missing values in R as NULL values, but this experience got me wondering if there is a particular file format that Tableau imports most seamlessly.

Or should I export the data from R into the Tableau Data Extract (.tde) using the rtableau package?

Aug 1, 2018 in Tableau by ghost
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Well I don‘t have a definitive answer for you, but as a part of work I have worked on several projects involving both R and Tableau.

I would recommend using the package to create .tde files, since this forces you to format the data in the native types provided by Tableau and should lead to the least error-prone work-flows.

Ingesting csv in Tableau has multiple possibilities of failure. Apart from those you mentioned, I once ran into the problem that Tableau chooses the column type based on the first 500 observations. Thus, depending on the data, one specific column was either identified as „numeric“ or as „integer“, leading to errors in the visualization. Similar problems exist with all non-native data types, in my experience.
answered Aug 1, 2018 by Atul
• 10,190 points

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