Alation Anywhere for Tableau

With Alation Anywhere for Tableau, users of Tableau can see certain metadata from Alation directly within Tableau. This enables Tableau users to see data descriptions, warnings, and more in Tableau itself. Alation serves as the single source of truth while supporting data users in their chosen context.

A Server Admin can enable this feature and set up a schedule to automatically send data from Alation to Tableau.


To use Alation Anywhere for Tableau, the following prerequisites must be met:

  • Alation and Tableau must be connected to the data source whose data you want to sync. This must be an external RDBMS data source. It can’t be an XSL or CSV that’s embedded on the Tableau server.

  • You must have added Tableau Data Management to your Tableau deployment. This enables us to use the Tableau APIs to send data to Tableau.

  • You must have the Tableau OCF connector version 1.2.0 or later installed in Alation.

  • You must have connected Alation to an instance of Tableau Cloud or Tableau Server version 2021.3 or later.

  • You must have added curated metadata, such as descriptions, tags, and trust check flags to the data and performed metadata extraction with this connector at least once.


Alation Anywhere for Tableau does not yet support connections between Alation Cloud Service and an on-premise Tableau connector installed with the Alation Agent.

Enable Alation Anywhere for Tableau

Starting in 2023.1, Alation Anywhere for Tableau is enabled automatically for all customers.

To use Alation Anywhere for Tableau on older versions, you must first enable the feature on your Alation instance. Alation Cloud Service customers can submit a support ticket to request the feature to be enabled. To enable this feature for on-premise instances, you must be a Server Admin with access to the Alation server.

To enable Alation Anywhere for Tableau for on-premise instances in 2022.4 and earlier:

  1. Use SSH to connect to the Alation server.

  2. Enter the Alation shell using the following command:

    sudo /etc/init.d/alation shell
  3. Enter the following command:

    alation_conf -s True
  4. (Optional) By default, Alation will sync metadata for databases, tables, and columns. You can configure this using the following command, removing the object type for which you don’t want to sync metadata:

    alation_conf tableau.upload.scope -s databases,tables,columns

Enable and Schedule Metadata Upload to Tableau

You must be a Server Admin to configure Alation Anywhere for Tableau. As a Server Admin, you can enable and disable the feature, and you can send metadata to Tableau manually or set up an automatic schedule.

To configure the uploading of Alation metadata into Tableau:

  1. In Alation, click Apps in the top right corner, then click Sources.

  2. Click the Manage Settings tab.

  3. Click BI Servers.

  4. Click on the wrench icon to the right of your Tableau instance.

  5. Scroll down to Metadata Upload From Alation to BI Server and toggle Enable Automated Upload on or off.

  6. Click the drop-down arrows under Automated Upload Time. Select the desired options to set up the schedule.

Monitor Alation Anywhere for Tableau

Starting in 2023.1, you can monitor the status of the data transfer from Alation to Tableau.

  1. In Alation, click Apps in the top right corner, then click Sources.

  2. Click the Manage Settings tab.

  3. Click BI Servers.

  4. Click on the wrench icon to the right of your Tableau instance.

  5. Scroll down to Metadata Upload From Alation to BI Server. The Upload Job Status table shows the latest upload jobs, their status, and any errors that may have occurred. You can now: - Click the View Details link to see full error messages and other details. - Click Refresh to update the table. - Use the Prev and Next buttons below the table to see more jobs.

Understand How Alation Sends Metadata to Tableau

After enabling Alation Anywhere for Tableau, there are two stages in the process of getting metadata into Tableau. First Alation sends the metadata to Tableau. Then Tableau propagates the metadata to specific objects.

It may take some time for the metadata to fully propagate. For example, an upload of 10,000 objects may take about 6 minutes to send from Alation to Tableau and about 4 hours for Tableau to fully propagate the metadata.

Alation sends metadata for the following data objects:

  • Data sources

  • Tables

  • Columns

Alation sends the following metadata to Tableau:

  • Warnings

  • Deprecations

  • Descriptions

  • Tags

If a data object has both warning and deprecation flags, the flag will appear as a deprecation in Tableau, but the description for both the warning and the deprecation will be shown. Endorsement flags are not sent to Tableau.


The Tableau API limits our ability to delete tags and descriptions from Tableau. Deleting a tag or description in Alation will not delete the corresponding data in Tableau automatically.

Find Alation Metadata in Tableau

In general, you will find Alation metadata in context when working with data in Tableau. Specifically, you’ll find metadata in the Data Details panel and when viewing tables or databases in Tableau. You may also see warning pop-ups when viewing workbooks with deprecations or warnings.

Alert Pop-up

When Alation has sent warnings or deprecations about the view’s data, you’ll see a warning message at the top of the screen. Click on Open Data Details to see more information.


Data Details

You can see Alation metadata at any time by clicking on Data Details.

In the Data Details panel, click on the yellow warning banner to see specific data quality warnings.


A popup will appear giving details on the warnings that were sent from Alation.


The Data Details panel also shows Alation descriptions of columns under the Fields in Use section.


Worksheet Editor Data Panel

Tableau users with a Creator or Explorer (can edit) license can see column descriptions from Alation when editing a worksheet. This enables Tableau editors to better understand the data they’re using. Hover over a column name in the Data panel to see the description.



Tableau will not show deprecations, warnings, or tags in the worksheet editor data panel.

Tableau Data Management External Assets

If you have added Tableau Data Management to your Tableau deployment, you can go to External Assets in the left navigation pane and see Alation descriptions, warnings, deprecations, and tags associated with your data.

For example, when viewing a table in Tableau Data Management, you can see the table’s description and tags from Alation. You can also see any deprecations and warnings from Alation on the table.


Click on a warning icon to get details about the deprecation or warning. Click the Powered by link to go to the Alation home page, or click on the More information link to go to the object’s catalog page in Alation.