FTP/SFTP XML File Connector for Tableau

In this article you will learn how to integrate FTP/SFTP XML File data in Tableau without coding in just a few clicks (live / bi-directional connection to FTP/SFTP XML File). FTP/SFTP XML File Connector can be used to read XML Files stored on FTP Sites (Classic FTP, SFTP or FTPS). Using this you can easily read FTP/SFTP XML File data. It's supports latest security standards, and optimized for large data files. It also supports reading compressed files (e.g. GZip /Zip)..

Using FTP/SFTP XML File Connector you will be able to connect, read, and write data from within Tableau. Follow the steps below to see how we would accomplish that.

Download  Help File 

Create Data Source in ZappySys Data Gateway based on

  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 - . Finally, click OK. And it will create the Data Set for it and open the ZS driver UI.

    AZUREBLOB-DSN
    Native -
    ZappySys Data Gateway -

  5. Create and configure a connection for the FTP/SFTP storage account.

    Create FTP/SFTP Storage Connection
  6. You can use select your desired single file by clicking [...] path button.

    mybucket/dbo.tblNames.xml
    dbo.tblNames.xml
    Read FTP/SFTP XML File data


    ----------OR----------

    You can also read the multiple files stored in FTP/SFTP Storage using wildcard pattern supported e.g. dbo.tblNames*.xml.

    Note: If you want to operation with multiple files then use wild card pattern as below 
    (when you use wild card pattern in source path then system will treat target path as folder regardless you end with slash)
    
    mybucket/dbo.tblNames.xml (will read only single .XML file)
    mybucket/dbo.tbl*.xml (all files starting with file name)
    mybucket/*.xml (all files with .xml Extension and located under folder subfolder)
    

    mybucket/dbo.tblNames*.xml
    Use wildcard pattern .* to read multiple FTP/SFTP Files data


    ----------OR----------

    You can also read the zip and gzip compressed files also without extracting it in using FTP/SFTP XML Source File Task.

    mybucket/dbo.tblNames*.gz
    Reading zip and gzip compressed files (stream mode)
  7. Now select/enter Path expression in Path textbox to extract only specific part of XML string as below ($.value[*] will get content of value attribute from XML document. Value attribute is array of XML documents so we have to use [*] to indicate we want all records of that array)

    NOTE: Here, We are using our desired filter, but you need to select your desired filter based on your requirement.
    Go to Preview Tab.

    FTP/SFTP XML Driver Select Filter
  8. Navigate to the Preview Tab and let's explore the different modes available to access the data.

    1. --- Using Direct Query ---

      Click on Preview Tab, Select Table from Tables Dropdown and select [value] and click Preview.
      ZappySys ODBC Driver - Preview Data
    2. --- Using Stored Procedure ---

      Note : For this you have to Save ODBC Driver configuration and then again reopen to configure same driver. For more information click here.
      Click on the Custom Objects Tab, Click on Add button and select Add Procedure and Enter an appropriate name and Click on OK button to create.
      ZappySys ODBC Driver - Custom Objects
      1. --- Without Parameters ---

        Now Stored Procedure can be created with or without parameters (see example below). If you use parameters then Set default value otherwise it may fail to compilation)
        ZappySys ODBC Driver : Without Parameters
      2. --- With Parameters ---

        Note : Here you can use Placeholder with Paramters in Stored Procedure. Example : SELECT * FROM $ WHERE OrderID = '<@OrderID, FUN_TRIM>' or CustId = '<@CustId>' and Total >= '<@Total>'
        ZappySys ODBC Driver : With Parameters
    3. --- Using Virtual Table ---

      Note : For this you have to Save ODBC Driver configuration and then again reopen to configure same driver. For more information click here.

      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 don't 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 Buckets with slight variations you can create virtual tables with just URL as Parameter setting).

      vt__Customers
      DataPath=mybucket_1/customers.xml
      
      vt__Orders
      DataPath=mybucket_2/orders.xml
      
      vt__Products
      DataPath=mybucket_3/products.xml
      
      1. Click on the Custom Objects Tab, Click on Add button and select Add Table and Enter an appropriate name and Click on OK button to create.
        ZappySys ODBC Driver - Custom Objects
      2. Once you see Query Builder Window on screen Configure it.
        ZappySys ODBC Driver - Custom Objects : Virtual Table Query Builder
      3. Click on Preview Tab, Select Virtual Table(prefix with vt__) from Tables Dropdown or write SQL query with Virtual Table name and click Preview.
        ZappySys ODBC Driver - Custom Objects : Virtual Table Query Execute

  9. Click OK to finish creating the data source

  10. That's it; we are done. In a few clicks we configured the to Read the FTP/SFTP XML File data using ZappySys FTP/SFTP XML File Connector

Read data in SQL Server from the ZappySys Data Gateway

  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. Optional: Under the Server Options, Enable RPC and RPC Out and Disable Promotion of Distributed Transactions(MSDTC).

    RPC and MSDTC Settings

    You need to enable RPC Out if you plan to use EXEC(...) AT [MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME] rather than OPENQUERY.
    If don't enabled it, you will encounter the Server 'MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME' is not configured for RPC error.

    Query Example:

    EXEC('Select * from Products') AT [MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME]


    If you plan to use 'INSERT INTO...EXEC(....) AT [MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME]' in that case you need to Disable Promotion of Distributed Transactions(MSDTC).
    If don't disabled it, you will encounter the The operation could not be performed because OLE DB provider "SQLNCLI11" for linked server "MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME" was unable to begin a distributed transaction. error.

    Query Example:

    Insert Into dbo.Products
     EXEC('Select * from Products') AT [MY_LINKED_SERVER_NAME]
    


  4. 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

Create Linked Server using Code

In previous section you saw how to create a Linked Server from UI. You can do similar action by code too (see below). Run below script after changing necessary parameters. Assuming your Data Source name on ZappySys Data Gateway UI is 'FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN'

    USE [master]
    GO
    --///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    --Run below code in SSMS to create Linked Server and use ZappySys Drivers in SQL Server
    --///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    //Replace YOUR_GATEWAY_USER, YOUR_GATEWAY_PASSWORD
    //Replace localhost with IP/Machine name if ZappySys Gateway Running on different machine other than SQL Server
    //Replace Port 5000 if you configured gateway on a different port


    --1. Configure your gateway service as per this article https://zappysys.com/links?id=10036
    
    --2. Make sure you have SQL Server Installed. You can download FREE SQL Server Express Edition from here if you dont want to buy Paid version https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sql-server/sql-server-editions-express

    --Uncomment below if you like to drop linked server if it already exists
    --EXEC master.dbo.sp_dropserver @server=N'LS_FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN', @droplogins='droplogins'

    --3. Create new linked server
    
    EXEC master.dbo.sp_addlinkedserver
      @server = N'LS_FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN'  --Linked server name (this will be used in OPENQUERY sql
    , @srvproduct=N''
    , @provider=N'SQLNCLI11'
    , @datasrc=N'localhost,5000' --//Machine / Port where Gateway service is running
    , @provstr=N'Network Library=DBMSSOCN;'
    , @catalog=N'FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN' --Data source name you gave on Gateway service settings

    --4. Attach gateway login with linked server

    EXEC master.dbo.sp_addlinkedsrvlogin
      @rmtsrvname=N'LS_FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN'  --linked server name
    , @useself=N'False'
    , @locallogin=NULL
    , @rmtuser=N'YOUR_GATEWAY_USER' --enter your Gateway user name
    , @rmtpassword='YOUR_GATEWAY_PASSWORD'  --enter your Gateway user's password
    GO

    --5. Enable RPC OUT (This is Optional - Only needed if you plan to use EXEC(...) AT YourLinkedServerName rather than OPENQUERY
    EXEC sp_serveroption 'LS_FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN', 'rpc', true;
    EXEC sp_serveroption 'LS_FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN', 'rpc out', true;

    --Disable MSDTC - Below needed to support INSERT INTO from EXEC AT statement
    EXEC sp_serveroption 'LS_FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN', 'remote proc transaction promotion', false;
    
    --Increase query timeout if query is going to take longer than 10 mins (Default timeout is 600 seconds)
    --EXEC sp_serveroption 'LS_FtP/SftpxmlFileConnectorDSN', 'query timeout', 1200;
    GO

Create View in SQL Server

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:

  1. 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 FTP/SFTP XML File Connector data 3 different ways:
    1. Query View which contains OPENQUERY to Linked Server for FTP/SFTP XML File Connector 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 FTP/SFTP XML File Connector 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 FTP/SFTP XML File Connector 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 FTP/SFTP XML File Connector 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 FTP/SFTP XML File Connector 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

  5. Let's generate the SQL Server Query Code to make the API call using store procedure. Go to Code Generator Tab, select language as SQL Server and click on Generate button the generate the code.
    As we already created the linked server for this Data Source, in that you just need to copy the Select Query and need to use the linked server name which we have apply on the place of [MY_API_SERVICE] placeholder.

    SELECT * FROM OPENQUERY([MY_API_SERVICE], 'EXEC usp_get_orders @fromdate=''1996-07-30''')

    ZappySys Driver - Generate SQL Server Query

  6. Now go to SQL served and execute that query and it will make the API call using store procedure and provide you the response.
    ZappySys Driver - Generate SQL Server Query

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 don't 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.

If you're dealing with Microsoft Access and need to import data from an SQL query, it's important to note that Access doesn't allow direct import of SQL queries. Instead, you can create custom objects (Virtual Tables) to handle the import process.

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

  6. Let's generate the SQL Server Query Code to make the API call using store procedure. Go to Code Generator Tab, select language as SQL Server and click on Generate button the generate the code.
    As we already created the linked server for this Data Source, in that you just need to copy the Select Query and need to use the linked server name which we have apply on the place of [MY_API_SERVICE] placeholder.

    SELECT * FROM OPENQUERY([MY_API_SERVICE], 'EXEC [usp_get_orders] ''1996-01-01''')

    ZappySys Driver - Generate SQL Server Query

  7. Now go to SQL served and execute that query and it will make the API call using store procedure and provide you the response.
    ZappySys Driver - Generate SQL Server Query

Conclusion

In this article we discussed how to connect to FTP/SFTP XML File in Tableau and integrate data without any coding. Click here to Download FTP/SFTP XML File 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).

Download FTP/SFTP XML File Connector for Tableau Documentation 


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