Tableau Basics

What are Tableau Projects?

Projects separate content online, but they share Groups and Users with other parent and/or child projects. Access to a Project is granted by the Group or User permissions set on that Project which is handled by the Project Leader of your team.

What are Tableau Workbooks?

Individual project workbooks can be published from Tableau Desktop to Tableau Online. The person publishing the dashboard from Tableau Desktop controls who sees their data when it is published. The publisher can choose a Project which defaults permissions that are already set for Users or Groups on that Project, or the publisher can select individual workbook permissions.

What are Tableau Data Sources?

Similar to Workbooks, Data Source permissions are also determined by the Publisher.

What type of data can I use in Tableau?

  • Tableau Public – Public data only
  • Tableau Desktop – Public and Sensitive data only
  • Tableau Online – Public and Sensitive data only
  • *Use of restricted data is prohibited in Tableau
Classification Level Definition Examples of Data
Public data Data that may be disclosed to the general public without harm. Public phone directory, course catalogs, public research findings, enrollment figures, public web sites, general benefits data, press releases, newsletters, etc.
Sensitive data Data that should be kept confidential. Access to these data shall require authorization and legitimate need-to- know. Privacy may be required by law or contract. FERPA, budgetary plans, proprietary business plans, patent pending information, export controls information and data protected by law.
Restricted/PHI data Data that is highly confidential in nature, carries significant risk from unauthorized access, or uninterrupted accessibility is critical to UAB operation. Privacy and Security controls are typically required by law or contract. HIPAA PHI, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers (PCI DSS), GLBA data, Export Controlled data, FISMA regulated data, log-in credentials, and information protected by non-disclosure agreements.

Please see Applying the Data Classification and Protection Rules for more detailed information of each classification level.


How do I get access to Tableau software?

Tableau Desktop or Tableau Online is available for UAB Departments that demonstrate a valid business need. To discuss using Tableau at UAB, fill out the request form via AskIT (Service Home > Order Services > Software and Applications). Once a ticket has been submitted, we will contact you to discuss which option best meets your need.

Additional options are available for Students, Faculty, or Researchers, along with FAQs on each type listed below.

Who can access Tableau projects and visualizations at UAB?

UAB has two types of users for Tableau Online. Those who develop data visualizations (publishers) and those who interact with data visualizations (interactors). Based upon permission settings, publishers may choose groups of interactors within the UAB community and grant them access to Tableau visualizations online.

What is the difference between Tableau Desktop and Tableau Public?

  Tableau Desktop Tableau Public
Managed by The EIB Team Tableau Software
File Save Options Tableau Online or locally Locally
Data Source Options Approved Published Data Sources and file types Excel, text or Access files
Install Desktop Tool Install Desktop Tool Install Desktop Tool

What if I want everyone across campus to see my visualization, whether they have a Tableau license or not?

Publishers that need to reach a wider audience can use Tableau Public to distribute their work and/or embed content to the department website ONLY IF the visualization does not include sensitive or restricted data. Additionally, think about whether you want anyone in the world to potentially see your visualization. If you do not want anyone in the world to potentially see it, or do not think that UAB would want the world to see it, do NOT publish it on Tableau Public. Please see Applying the Data Classification and Protection Rules for more information as each individual is held responsible.

How do I request access to Tableau visualizations as an interactor?

Individual Tableau publishers for their area/department/team controls access to their Tableau content on the server. Please contact the department that developed the visualization you are interested in for permission before requesting interactor access through the UAB AskIT.

How do publishers add interactors to a Tableau project?

Publishers must approve access for all their interactors. Publishers can request access on an interactor’s behalf through submitting a ticket with AskIT (Service Home > Order Services > Software and Applications) with a list of BlazerIDs needing access. Alternatively, publishers can send a list of approved interactors to the EBI team at and then instruct interactors to submit a ticket with AskIT to request access on their own.

For assistance adding larger groups of interactors, more than 20 at once, please contact the EBI team directly at


What version of Tableau Desktop are the academic licenses for?

Licenses provided through the Academic Programs can be used to activate any version of Tableau Desktop Professional.

The download link provided will give you access to the most recent version of Tableau. If you would like to work in other versions of Tableau, you can access past releases here.

How can I tell when my license expires?

You can check the expiration date on a Tableau Desktop license by going in the application select the Help Menu > Manage Product Keys.

How do I upgrade to the newest version of Tableau Desktop?

You can upgrade to the newest version of Tableau by downloading it like a new trial right from our website and your current license will transfer automatically. To start the download now, click here.

Can I install Tableau Desktop on more than one computer? Can I use the Tableau Desktop license on my new machine?

Your product key can be used to install Tableau Desktop on two computers at the same time. If you need to switch computers, see Moving Tableau Desktop to a Different Computer.

Do you provide a discount for students and instructors for Tableau certifications?

We do not provide a discount for students and instructors on Tableau certifications. Learn more about Tableau certifications here.

What is Tableau Prep?

Tableau Prep empowers more people to get to analysis faster by helping them quickly and confidently combine, shape, and clean their data. A direct and visual experience gives customers a deeper understanding of their data, smart features make data prep simple, and integration with the Tableau analytical workflow allows for faster speed to insight.

Is Tableau Prep a traditional ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool?

Prep is not a traditional ETL tool, instead, this is continues to broaden Tableau’s data preparation capabilities. For some people, this may mean a combination of ETL tools, Tableau Prep and Tableau Desktop is used in their analytic journey. Traditional data preparation tools are developed for specialists or highly technical users. Tableau Prep is designed to be direct, visual, and to make a difficult task simple.

What does the inclusion of Tableau Prep in the Academic program mean for my course curriculum? Is it outdated?

We always offer the most up-to-date versions of Tableau Desktop, and now we are incorporating additional tools for you to use in your class. Tableau Prep may be relevant for some classes, but not all.

What resources are available for Prep?

There are many free learning resources available:

Is Tableau Prep backwards compatible?

Tableau Prep is compatible with Tableau Desktop 10.0 or newer. It can output .tde, .hyper and .csv files. Learn more about Tableau Prep's compatibility here.

Does Tableau work on Windows and/or Mac?

Tableau Desktop is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems. You can find more technical specifications here.

I receive the error “Function flxActCommonRepairLocalTrustedStorage returned error” when trying to activate Tableau Desktop.

I receive the error “FLEXNet licensing service is not present” or "Function flxActAppActivationSend" when trying to activate Tableau Desktop.

I receive the error “invalid product key” when trying to activate Tableau Desktop.

Typically this error message occurs because extra spaces are inserted before or after the product key, or the product key has been mistyped. This error message also occurs if you try to activate Tableau Service with a Tableau Desktop product key.

To resolve this issue,

  • Ensure that the product you are trying to activate to Tableau Desktop
  • Copy your product key directly from the email you received

I receive the error “max extra activations exceeded” when try to activate Tableau Desktop.

This error can occur when you try to activate Tableau Desktop on more than two computers with the same key.

If you still have access to one or more of the computers where you previously activated Tableau Desktop, deactivate the license. See Moving Tableau Desktop to a Different Computer for more information.

If you no longer have access to the computers where you previously activated Tableau Desktop, contact Tableau Support.

I receive an error message “Your license to use the product expires” or “Your license to use the product expires in ___ days” when trying to access Tableau Desktop.

If you activated your product key more than a year ago, you will need to request another key. To request a new individual license, complete the online license request form here.

I receive the error “too early” when trying to activate Tableau Desktop.

This error message typically indicates that the date, time, or time zone on your computer are set incorrectly. To resolve this issue, ensure that the date, time, and time zone on your computer are all set correctly

If correcting the date, time, and time zone does not resolve the problem, contact Tableau Support.

I receive the error “No license found for 'TableauDesktop'” when trying to activate Tableau Desktop.

This error message means that your license has expired. To request a new individual license, complete the online license request form here.

How do I share my visualizations?

Tableau Online can be used to share visualizations created by students in your course(s). We recommend using Tableau Public to share visualizations publicly and for students to use to create a digital portfolio. For more information on sharing visualizations with Tableau Public, see Saving Workbooks to Tableau Public.

Tableau For Students

Who is eligible for a free license through the student program?

To qualify for a license, you must be 13 years of age or older to request a license, and you must be currently enrolled at an accredited academic institution at the K-12 or postsecondary (undergraduate/postgraduate) level.

What do I do if my school’s name doesn’t auto-populate in the School Name field on the request form?

Continue entering the full name of your school (avoid any abbreviations) in the open text field.

When I request a license, what type of documentation do I need to upload to verify my student status?

School-issued documentation that includes:

  • Your full name as entered on the request form
  • The name of your school as entered on the request form, and
  • Active student status as of today.

Example of school-issued documentation that includes:

  • BlazerID card showing date of validity (an issue date or expiration date)
  • Course schedule of the current term, or
  • Copy of an unofficial transcript

I requested a license, submitted documentation to verify my student status, but I never heard back. What should I do?

It should only take 1-3 business days to receive a response if you uploaded the appropriate documentation during the process of requesting a license. Check your spam/junk folder if you have not received a response within this timeframe.

When submitting the request form for a student license, I receive the error “Our records show that you were issued a student license in the past year” when submitting the request form. What should I do?

Whether you were issued a student license or your submission is pending, the error message indicates that you previously requested a student license within the past year. If you were previously issued a student license, refer to the email that was sent when you were successfully verified that contains your product key. You can download the latest version of Tableau Desktop here and input the product key to activate. If you are unable to find the email, send a note to to retrieve it. If your submission is pending, you need to upload documentation to verify your student status from the upload link provided in the follow-up email.

Can I use my student license as part of my internship or job?

Absolutely! No additional documentation is required.

I am an instructor, not a student. How can I obtain a license key?

Please see the section Tableau for Teaching further down this page for additional information.

I am still a student, but my license expired. How do I extend my license?

If you are still currently enrolled at an accredited academic institution, you can request a new one-year license by completing the online request form here.

What should I do if I used Tableau in a prior course and my product key no longer works?

The student licenses provided through the Tableau for Teaching program and distributed by instructors are typically valid for the duration of the course. However, if you are currently enrolled at an accredited academic institution, you are eligible for a free one-year license through the Tableau for Students Program and can submit your request here.

Tableau For Teaching

Who is eligible for free licenses through the teaching program?

To qualify for free licenses through the Tableau for Teaching Program, you must teach at an accredited academic institution and/or conduct noncommercial academic research at an accredited academic institution. Terms and conditions can be reviewed under the Additional Terms and Conditions section of the online license request forms.

What qualifies as noncommercial academic research?

Noncommercial academic research means conducting not-for-profit academic research projects (investigation based on the idea of scientific inquiry), which are not intended to or in fact produce results, works, services, or data for commercial use by anyone or to generate revenue.

Commercial research and institutional research - the use of institutional data (including student and staff, program, management and operations data) to inform decision-making, planning or tracking academic success - are not considered noncommercial academic research.

Examples of noncommercial academic research that do qualify:

  • Postdoctoral researcher at a university conducting individual research with limited or no grant funding
  • Students and mentors assisting students in a research lab affiliated with a university degree program

Examples of research that do not qualify:

  • Independent, non-profit research centers not affiliate with a university, but utilizing university resources (room space, equipment, etc.)
  • Research centers partnering with universities (but not a part of a university degree program) to provide research and other services to public or private sectors (governments, non-profits, corporations, etc.)
  • Individuals completing their residency at a hospital affiliated with a university, who have already obtained their degree, and are not taking additional courses
  • Medical centers associated with universities conducting clinical research
  • Professors that are providing independent consulting services

When will my licenses be delivered? When will I receive access to my Tableau Online site?

  • Individual instructor license: within 5-7 business days of the request date
  • Bulk lab license: by the Date needed by indicated on the online request form
  • Bulk student license: approximately one week before the course start date as indicated on the online request form
  • Tableau Online site: by the Date needed by indicated on the online request form

How long are the licenses valid for? How long will the Tableau Online site be valid for?

  • Individual instructor license: valid for one year at a time and can be renewed each year instructors are teaching Tableau in the classroom or conducting noncommercial academic research
  • Bulk lab license: valid for one year at a time
  • Bulk student license: valid for the duration of the course as indicated on the online request form
  • Tableau Online site: valid for one year at a time

How do I install Tableau Desktop on my lab computers or in a virtual environment?

Persistent Virtual Environments

Tableau Desktop can be installed in persistent virtual environments (a hosted-virtualization or Terminal Server solution, like Microsoft RemoteApp or Citrix hosted applications) whose operating system and hardware requirements meeting our Technical Specifications.

Non-Persistent Virtual Environments

Installing Tableau Desktop is not recommended in non-persistent virtual environments, as these environments are not compatible with our licensing structure. Read more here.

Proposed Solutions:

  • Deactivate the license from the machine before it is refreshed (more information on how to move/deactivate Tableau Desktop can be found here).
  • Request additional activations for your bulk lab license to accommodate additional log-ins. Often, instructors will provide the lab key on a secure LMS for students to refer to when logging into a lab computer.
  • Instruct students to bring their own personal laptop to work with Tableau in class. A bulk student license can be provided for students to activate the application on their own machines here.


Bulk lab keys have a specific number of activations tied to each key. When lab machines are re-imaged, the FlexNet licensing system treats the machine as a new computer, and will attempt to pull another license from the lab key. If there are not enough licenses on the key, a “Maximum Number of Activations Reached” error message will appear.

Proposed Solutions:

  • Deactivate the Tableau Desktop license on the machines before re-imaging (more information on how to move/deactivate Tableau Desktop can be found here).
  • Request a new bulk lab key here.

How do I incorporate Tableau into my course?

The manner and extent to which you incorporate Tableau into your course is entirely up to you. To help you get started, we provide free ready-made curriculum materials, including lecture notes, student handouts, and assignments. Learn more here.

We also encourage you to join the Tableau for Teaching User Community to network, collaborate, and share materials with other instructors in the program.

Can you extend the license or increase the number of activations for a license?

The expiration date and number of activations tied to specific licenses cannot be adjusted.

How many activations are available on my bulk licenses?

We assign a set number of activations to each bulk lab and student license, based off of the information indicated on the license request form. Please email the Academic Programs Team ( for more information about your specific license.

I receive the error “Errors occurred while trying to load the workbook...The load was not able to complete successfully.”

This error occurs because workbooks saved in newer versions of Tableau Desktop cannot be opened in older versions of Tableau Desktop. For example, a workbook saved in Tableau Desktop 10.0 can no longer be opened in Tableau Desktop 9.2

To resolve this error, upgrade Tableau Desktop to the latest version by downloading it here.

Tableau Mobile

Is Tableau Mobile available for an Android? An iPhone?

Yes to both. An account on either Tableau Online or Tableau Server 9.1 or later is required. A mobile device with Android 5 or later, or iOS 10 or later

How do I sign in to Tableau Mobile?

  1. (iOS only) Tap Sign in
  2. Tap Connect to Tableau Online to access the UAB Tableau-hosted site.
  3. Put in your email and tap Sign In à
  4. You’ll be redirected to UAB Central Authentication System where you enter your BlazerID and Password.
  5. If you have 2 Factor Authentication set up, you will be redirected to DUO

What can I do on Tableau Mobile?

Tableau Mobile is available to interact with published content.

  • Favorites shows sheets and workbooks that you’ve chosen for quick access, online or offline.
    • When navigating the Recents or All tabs, tap the star next to the workbook or view you want to add to Favorites.
    • While looking at an individual view, tap the ellipses in the upper-right corner for the menu, and then tap Add to Favorites.
  • Recents shows up to 12 recently visited workbooks and 12 worksheets.
  • All shows thumbnails for each workbook, as well as each sheet the workbook contains.