The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Don’t Be Lazy with User Filters

Data

The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Don’t Be Lazy with User Filters

by Maureen O'Donnell

The Tableau Performance Checklist series is designed to help you streamline your dashboard performance and Tableau Server configuration. Each post expands upon one item listed in the master Tableau Performance Checklist.

The final topic in Filtering addresses when and when not to use user filters and how it can slow down your visualization:

Don’t be lazy with user filters. Security by user filters can impact performance on Tableau Server as the server cannot share connections and query caches if user filters are active. Consider building a summary view that is a user-agnostic overview using a pre-aggregated extract with underlying data hidden. For a detailed view, restrict it to specific users or active directory groups instead of user filters.

Let’s jump right in.

Easy Filters

User filters are a way to filter data in your visualizations from Tableau Server based on specific users. For example, if you have a global sales report, you can filter the data that national sales managers see by country. All of this is managed from Tableau Server based on user permissions and logins. You can filter by individual users or groups of users. The specificity of user filters can drill down to the row or column-level.

Below is another example, only at the state level:

User Filter 1

User Filter 2

Big Problems

Implementing user filters impacts the performance of Tableau Server. As stated above in the guideline, utilizing them as convenient security means that Tableau Server cannot share the cache in creating the visualization.

When Tableau creates the view, it creates a query cache that can be quickly reused for other users. User filters force Tableau Server to re-query the database to produce the visualization, essentially recreating all of your affected visualizations and dashboards from scratch for each different group or user that is being filtered via the user filters. Imagine that you’ve got dozens or even hundreds of users controlled by user filters, all of whom are accessing a very complicated and intensive dashboard. You can immediately see how user filters could drastically impact performance.

Efficient Alternatives

In certain situations, we recommend using pre-aggregated extracts that remove the levels of detail that you want protected. This can reduce the number of queries affected by user filters by providing a data source that can be used for higher-level visualizations. Then, only the visualizations that require a finer level of detail would need to be secured via user filters.

That concludes the Filtering category in the Tableau Performance Checklist. Next, we’ll start looking at how to optimize our dashboards by examining how we use custom SQL. 

Mastering Best Practices

If you’re interested in becoming a Tableau Server guru, then learning these performance best practices is essential. Check back frequently as we add new posts and dive deeper into each point in the Tableau Performance Checklist.

Another great way to identify best practices is to leverage the insights offered by our Performance Analyzer, part of Workbook Tools for Tableau. It will examine all of your workbooks, worksheets, dashboards and data sources against a list of best practices to ensure that you’re using all the tips and tricks to guarantee your visualizations are moving at light speed.

As always, feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions regarding performance or anything Tableau related! We’d be happy to help.

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Want More The Tableau Performance Checklist

  1. The Tableau Performance Checklist
  2. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Data – Keep Analysis Simple
  3. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Data – Bring in Only Needed Data
  4. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Data – Use ‘Describe’ to Explore
  5. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Data – Remove Unused Columns from Extracts
  6. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Data – Use One TDS File
  7. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Data – Use Extracts
  8. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Minimize Quick Filters
  9. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Avoid ‘Only Relevant Values’ in Quick Filters
  10. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Avoid High-Cardinality Quick Filters
  11. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Avoid Quick Filters That Drive Context Filters
  12. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Keep Range Quick Filters Simple
  13. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Use Dashboard Filter Actions
  14. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Filtering – Don’t Be Lazy with User Filters
  15. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Custom SQL – Limit in Live Connections
  16. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Custom SQL – Avoid Parameters
  17. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Custom SQL – Watch for Useless Clauses
  18. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Calculations – Use Calculated Fields Carefully
  19. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Calculations – Limit Blended Calculations
  20. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Calculations – Avoid Row-Level Calculations Involving Parameters
  21. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Rendering – Avoid High Mark Counts
  22. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Rendering – Limit Text Tables With Lots of Marks
  23. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Rendering – Minimize Image & Shape File Sizes
  24. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Rendering – Use Transparent Background PNGs
  25. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Local Computations – Server Performance
  26. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Local Computations – Table Calculations
  27. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Dashboard Layout – Limit Number of Worksheets
  28. The Tableau Performance Checklist: Dashboard Layout – Fix Dashboard Size

More About the Author

Maureen O'Donnell

Analytics Consultant
The Tableau Wedding Planner According to www.theknot.com, the average wedding in the United States costs approximately $30,000. With about two million weddings a ...
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