Add a Time Stamp in Tableau using Alteryx to Inform Users of Data freshness

When introducing new dashboards with possible hiccups in refresh operations, or ad hoc reports, users are often confronted with doubts about the timeliness of the data exposed:

  • Does that include yesterday’s orders?
  • Why am I not seeing the activity I was expecting here and there?
  • How come this deal is already appearing?

To address these questions and enhance the user experience, a best practice is to include a time stamp, inconspicuous but easy to access. Tableau offers a standard feature to display Data Update time:

http://kb.tableau.com/articles/howto/adding-data-refresh-time-stamp-to-view

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make it work properly when using a TDE file as the Data Source, and it seems I am not alone… For me, that standard function is displaying the time the workbook was last opened, which is of little value to the users of Tableau Server or Tableau Online…

Alteryx to the rescue!

It is actually quite simple, when using Alteryx, to add a time stamp showing the last time the Workflow was run. I will use the previous Target data set from an earlier post as an example to enhance:

  1. I will start by adding or modifying an existing Formula in the workflow, here I will leverage the existing formula which was stamping the Actual Version: Stamp 2  And create my Time Stamp using a DateTime Type for the Last Load Date field and the standard function DateTimeStart() which will write the time the module was kicked off:
    Stamp 1
  2. Now in Tableau I have a new dimension and I will set it to my favorite Date / Time format:
    Stamp 7
  3. I will then drag that dimension to the filters to make it available to my reports:
    Stamp 3
  4. I will set it to be present in all reports using my TDE data Source:
    Stamp 6
  5. Then, after ensuring I can view and edit Title and/or Caption:
    Stamp 8
    I can insert that field any way I want in my title and/or caption:
    Stamp 9
  6. Et voila a nice time stamp, showing automatically the time the TDE was last refreshed:
    Stamp 10

Please leave comments if you know of a more elegant or easier approach…

The modified Alteryx workflow is available here, and here is the Tableau Workbook:

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One Response to Add a Time Stamp in Tableau using Alteryx to Inform Users of Data freshness

  1. Pingback: How to Automate Data Refresh Operations to Tableau Server with Alteryx | Insights Through Data

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