Tableau JSON Connector

In this article you will learn, how to integrate JSON data to Tableau without coding in few clicks (Live / Bi-directional connection to JSON). JSON Connector can be used to extract and output JSON data stored in local JSON files, JSON data coming from REST API web service calls (Web URL) or direct JSON String (variables or DB columns). JSON Connector also supports JSONPath to filter data from nested array/sub-documents. This Connector is optimized to work with very large files.

Using JSON API Connector you will be able to connect, read and write data from within Tableau. Let's take a look at the steps below to see how exactly to accomplish that.

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Create Data Source in ZappySys Data Gateway based on ZappySys JSON Driver

  1. Download and install ZappySys ODBC PowerPack.

  2. Search for gateway in start menu and Open ZappySys Data Gateway:
    Open ZappySys Data Gateway

  3. Go to Users Tab to add our first Gateway user. Click Add; we will give it a name tdsuser and enter password you like to give. Check Admin option and click OK to save. We will use these details later when we create linked server:
    ZappySys Data Gateway - Add User

  4. Now we are ready to add a data source. Click Add, give data source a name (Copy this name somewhere, we will need it later) and then select Native - ZappySys JSON Driver. Finally, click OK.

    ZappySys Data Gateway - Add JSON Data Source

  5. Select Url or File and paste the following Url for this example.
    NOTE: Here for demo, I'm using odata API, but you need to refer your own API documentation and based on that you need to use your own API URL and need to configure connection based on API Authentication type

  6. Now enter JSONPath expression in Array Filter textbox to extract only specific part of JSON file as below ($.value[*] will get content of value attribute from JSON document. Value attribute is array of JSON documents so we have to use [*] to indicate we want all records of that array)
    NOTE: Here, I'm using my desired filter, but you need to select your desired filter based on your requirement.
    Click on Test Connection button to view whether the Test Connection is SUCCESSFUL or Not.

    $.value[*]
    ZappySys ODBC Driver - Configure JSON Driver
  7. Once you configured a data source, you can preview data. Hit Preview tab, and use similar settings to preview data:
    ZappySys ODBC Driver - Preview JSON Driver

  8. Click OK to finish creating the data source

Read data in SQL Server from the ZappySys Data Gateway data source

  1. To read the data in SQL Server the first thing you have to do is create a Linked Server. Go to SQL Server Management Studio and configure it in a similar way: SSMS SQL Server Configure Linked Server

  2. Then click on Security option and configure username we created in ZappySys Data Gateway in one of the previous steps: SSMS SQL Server Configure Linked Server User Name

  3. Finally, open a new query and execute a query we saved in one of the previous steps:

    SELECT * FROM OPENQUERY([MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME], 'SELECT * FROM Products')

    SSMS SQL Server Query Data Results
  4. Finally, use this or similar query in a view or stored procedure, which you will be able to use in Tableau. We will create a view to return invoices:

    CREATE VIEW vwApiInvoices AS
    SELECT * FROM OPENQUERY([MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME], 'SELECT * FROM Invoices')

Read data in Tableau from SQL Server

Actually, we will be getting data from SQL Server which in turn will be getting data from ZappySys Data Gateway data source. Let's begin and see how to accomplish that:

  1. Open Tableau Desktop and click File > New
  2. To create new Connection click More > Microsoft SQL Server > Enter your credentials to connect to SQL Server (in our example before we used tdsuser): Tableau connect to SQL Server
  3. Once connection is created for SQL Server we can read REST API data 3 different ways:
    1. Query View which contains OPENQUERY to Linked Server for REST API data
    2. Use direct SQL Query using OPENQUERY
    3. Use Stored Procedure (Mostly useful to parameterize calls
  4. See below example to pull data from REST API in Tableau using SQL View approach: Create data source in Tableau
  5. Once your data sources are created you can click on Sheet1 and drag fields to create visualizations for Tableau Dashboard: Create data source in Tableau

Passing Parameters to REST API calls in Tableau (Dynamic SQL)

Now let's look at scenario where you have to pass parameters to build Dynamic Dashboard. You can try to insert Parameters in your Direct SQL when you build Dynamic SQL but we found some issues with that so we are going to suggest Stored Procedure approach. For more information on Known issue on Dynamic Metadata Check this post.
  1. First lets create a stored procedure in SQL Server for Parameter Example. Notice how we added WITH RESULT SETS in the code to describe metadata.
    --DROP PROC dbo.usp_GetInvoicesByCountry
    --GO
    /*
    Purpose: Parameterize REST API call via SQL. Call ZappySys Drivers inside SQL Server.
    */
    CREATE PROC dbo.usp_GetInvoicesByCountry
    	@country varchar(100) 
    AS 
    
    DECLARE @sql varchar(max)
    --//Escape single ticks carefully
    SET @sql =  'SELECT OrderID,CustomerID,Country,Quantity FROM $
    WITH (Src=''https://services.odata.org/V3/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Invoices?$format=json@filter=Country eq '+ @country +'''
    	 ,Filter=''$.value[*]''
    	 ,DataFormat=''OData''
    )'
    
    DECLARE @sqlFull varchar(max)
    SET @sqlFull='SELECT * FROM OPENQUERY( LS , ''' + REPLACE( @sql, '''', '''''' ) + ''' )'
    PRINT @sqlFull --//For DEBUG purpose
    
    EXECUTE (@sqlFull) 
    WITH RESULT SETS ( 
     (OrderID int,CustomerID varchar(100),Country varchar(100),Quantity int) --//describe first result. If you don't do this then wont work in Tableau 
    )
    GO
    -- Example call
    EXEC dbo.usp_GetInvoicesByCountry @country='Germany'
  2. Once you create a stored procedure go to Tableau datasource and select Database which contains the stored procedure we just created.
  3. Now find your stored proc and drag it on the datasource pane. You will see parameters UI as below. You can create new parameter - Select New Parameter under Value Column. Parameterize Tableau REST API datasource (Stored Procedure Parameters)
  4. Thats it now you can reuse your parameterized datasource anywhere in Dashboard.
  5. If you have need to select Parameters from predefined values rather than free text then edit your parameter and select List option. Define values you like to select from as below. Allow Tableau Parameter selection from multiple values
  6. When you create Tableau Dashboard you will see Parameter dropdown (If you selected List) elase you may see Textbox to enter custom value. Tableau Dashboard Example - REST API Source with Parameterized Datasource

Firewall settings

So far we have assumed that Gateway is running on the same machine as SQL Server. However there will be a case when ZappySys ODBC PowerPack is installed on a different machine than SQL Server. In such case you may have to perform additional Firewall configurations. On most computers firewall settings wont allow outside traffic to ZappySys Data Gateway. In such case perform following steps to allow other machines to connect to Gateway.

Method-1 (Preferred)

If you are using newer version of ZappySys Data Gateway then adding firewall rule is just a single click.

  1. Search for gateway in start menu and open ZappySys Data Gateway.
  2. Go to Firewall Tab and click Add Firewall Rule button like below. This will create Firewall rule to all Inbound Traffic on Port 5000 (Unless you changed it). Allow Inbound Traffic - Add Firewall Rule for ZappySys Data Gateway

Method-2 Here is another way to add / edit Inbound Traffic rule in windows firewall. Use below method if you choose to customize your rule (for advanced users).
  1. Search for Windows Firewall Advanced Security in start menu.
  2. Under Inbound Rules > Right click and click [New Rule] >> Click Next
  3. Select Port on Rule Type >> Click Next
  4. Click on TCP and enter port number under specified local port as 5000 (use different one if you changed Default port) >> Click Next
  5. Select Profile (i.e. Private, Public) >> Click Next
  6. Enter Rule name [i.e. ZappySys Data Gateway – Allow Inbound ] >> Click Next
  7. Click OK to save the rule
SQL Server Firewall Allow Inbound Data Gateway

Create Custom Store Procedure in ZappySys Driver

You can create procedures to encapsulate custom logic and then only pass handful parameters rather than long SQL to execute your API call.

Steps to create Custom Store Procedure in ZappySys Driver. You can insert Placeholders anywhere inside Procedure Body. Read more about placeholders here

  1. Go to Custom Objects Tab and Click on Add button and Select Add Procedure:
    ZappySys Driver - Add Store Procedure

  2. Enter the desired Procedure name and click on OK:
    ZappySys Driver - Add Store Procedure Name

  3. Select the created Store Procedure and write the your desired store procedure and Save it and it will create the custom store procedure in the ZappySys Driver:
    Here is an example stored procedure for ZappySys Driver. You can insert Placeholders anywhere inside Procedure Body. Read more about placeholders here

    CREATE PROCEDURE [usp_get_orders]
    @fromdate = '<<yyyy-MM-dd,FUN_TODAY>>'
    AS
    SELECT * FROM Orders where OrderDate >= '<@fromdate>'

    ZappySys Driver - Create Custom Store Procedure

  4. That's it now go to Preview Tab and Execute your Store Procedure using Exec Command. In this example it will extract the orders from the date 1996-01-01:

    Exec usp_get_orders '1996-01-01'

    ZappySys Driver - Execute Custom Store Procedure

Create Custom Virtual Table in ZappySys Driver

ZappySys API Drivers support flexible Query language so you can override Default Properties you configured on Data Source such as URL, Body. This way you dont have to create multiple Data Sources if you like to read data from multiple EndPoints. However not every application support supplying custom SQL to driver so you can only select Table from list returned from driver.

Many applications like MS Access, Informatica Designer wont give you option to specify custom SQL when you import Objects. In such case Virtual Table is very useful. You can create many Virtual Tables on the same Data Source (e.g. If you have 50 URLs with slight variations you can create virtual tables with just URL as Parameter setting.

  1. Go to Custom Objects Tab and Click on Add button and Select Add Table:
    ZappySys Driver - Add Table

  2. Enter the desired Table name and click on OK:
    ZappySys Driver - Add Table Name

  3. And it will open the New Query Window Click on Cancel to close that window and go to Custom Objects Tab.

  4. Select the created table, Select Text Type AS SQL and write the your desired SQL Query and Save it and it will create the custom table in the ZappySys Driver:
    Here is an example SQL query for ZappySys Driver. You can insert Placeholders also. Read more about placeholders here

    SELECT
    "ShipCountry",
    "OrderID",
    "CustomerID",
    "EmployeeID",
    "OrderDate",
    "RequiredDate",
    "ShippedDate",
    "ShipVia",
    "Freight",
    "ShipName",
    "ShipAddress",
    "ShipCity",
    "ShipRegion",
    "ShipPostalCode"
    FROM "Orders"
    Where "ShipCountry"='USA'

    ZappySys Driver - Create Custom Table

  5. That's it now go to Preview Tab and Execute your custom virtual table query. In this example it will extract the orders for the USA Shipping Country only:

    SELECT * FROM "vt__usa_orders_only"

    ZappySys Driver - Execute Custom Virtual Table Query

Conclusion

In this article we discussed how to connect to JSON in Tableau and integrate data without any coding. Click here to Download JSON Connector for Tableau and try yourself see how easy it is. If you still have any question(s) then ask here or simply click on live chat icon below and ask our expert (see bottom-right corner of this page).

Documentation 

Other App Integration scenarios for JSON

Other API Connectors for Tableau


Documentation 

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  • How to read JSON data in Tableau?

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  • How to pull JSON data in Tableau?

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  • How to write data to JSON in Tableau?

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  • Consume realtime JSON API data in Tableau

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