Tableau Extensions were introduced in version 2018.2 and has massively opened up Tableau to the world of eager developers; literally speaking, this has the potential to be the biggest game changer since I have used Tableau (slight exaggeration maybe).

So what does this actually mean?

For Tableau Dashboard Developers, this means that you can now make use of custom dashboard components, called Extensions, that can interact with and provide additional functionality to your dashboards; these Extensions can be built by Tableau, or by third party developers, and can even be published to a Tableau Server.

How can you use an Extension?

All you need to do is download the trex file of your particular Extension into your Tableau directory, as simple as that. Once you copied the trex file there you can use that component in your dashboard, yes, as simple as that.

You can see a list of Tableau Extensions here:
https://extensiongallery.tableau.com/

This is still a new feature, but I would suggest that you have a look at what is available for now, but for me, the pick of the current litter are:

Show Me More by InfoTopics

I have written articles about creating Sankey Diagrams or Sunbursts, but this allows you to build them without the vast number of calculations.

“The Show me More extension for Tableau fills in the blanks when you need to embed visualization types not present in the default Tableau “Show me” set. Always wanted to embed an interactive Sankey diagram to visualize flows? In urgent need for a flexible Radar Chart in your HR Dashboards? Visualize a dynamic Network graph in your Tableau Dashboard to illustrate your department structure? No problem with the Show me more extension for Tableau! This extension offers various extra visualization types not being present in the Tableau “Show me” pane.”

Wordsmith by Automated Insights

On many occassions, I have been asked to look through dashboards, highlight key areas, create a narrative, and then send this through to various people. The Wordsmith Automated Insights extension provides this narrative for you and adjusts based on your currently filtered view.

“Automated Insights’ Wordsmith Extension for Tableau gives you the ability to add easy-to-understand, written analysis that pairs with your visualizations and enhances your dashboard experience. Empower every dashboard viewer to make better decisions with insightful narrative that uses natural language generation. The written analysis updates in real time, reflecting changes in data as users drill down into visualizations. Improve dashboard engagement and fast-track data literacy efforts across your entire organization through narrative that tells you exactly what’s happening with your data, why trends are occurring, and what to do about it.

With the Wordsmith Extension for Tableau, you can:

  • Automatically highlight key insights from your visualizations
  • Insert written, narrative analysis directly inside your Tableau dashboard
  • Facilitate data understanding and improve dashboard engagement with easily understood analysis”

Summary

As you can see both of these extensions can help take your dashboards to another level and this feature of Tableau has just been released. Just image the possibilities. In the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of articles on how you can develop your own extensions, but I serious suggest you having a look at the extension gallery and start exploring, more good things are coming your way soon.

Further reading

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