A Better Way to Connect Tableau and GA



After this blog post was published, Tableau announced a new native connector for Google Sheets. Take a look at our post about this update.

Good news! Your data viz designs are now free from the limitations of Tableau’s native Google Analytics connector. Tableau’s new Web Data Connector will grab your data from Google Sheets, where you can take advantage of the Add-On for Google Analytics.

Why Is It Better?

Within your Google Sheet, you can build a single data table from queries with the full functionality of the Google Analytics API. This means:

  • You can filter your data before connecting to Tableau, to avoid pulling more than the 10,000-row limit
  • If you need more than 10,000 rows, you can write a second query with a start index of 10,001, and so forth

When you build a single data table from multiple queries, you can also:

  • Get around sampling: pull data over smaller date ranges and re-combine
  • Combine data from different GA sources, e.g. hotels each with their own GA accounts
  • Correct a subset of data: query a small date range with a segment and replace rows in main table

How Does It Work?

The Google Spreadsheet Add-On for Google Analytics returns a separate tab of data for each query. Combine the data you want from each tab and make a new tab, forming a single data table which can connect to Tableau.

Now you’re ready to use the Web Data Connector. Let’s walk through it step-by-step.

Step 1: Create a new data source

Click the cylinder-plus icon, CTRL+D, or go to Data > New Data Source > More Servers and scroll all the way down to select Web Data Connector.

Enter http://localhost:8888/GoogleSheetsConnector.html into the dialog box.


Important: The very first time you set this up, you’ll need to (a) download the Web Data Connector SDK and (b) enable Internet Information Services (IIS).

Step 2: Get a share link from Google Sheets

Click the blue “Share” button at the top right of your spreadsheet and select “Get shareable link” to copy the link. Paste the link into the dialog box in Tableau and press the “connect” button.


Step 3: Authorize Tableau to access your data

Click the link that says, “Click to grant access” and follow the prompts. You may be asked to sign in to your Google account, after which you’ll see another screen with a blue “Allow” button. Click that button.


Step 4: Choose the sheet to use as data source

Once Tableau has accessed your Google Sheet, it will list all the tabs (Tableau calls them “sheets”). Select the one you want to use as your Tableau data source. Wait for a minute or two while Tableau creates an “extract” of your Google Sheet data.


Step 5: Verify and filter data (optional)

At this point you can verify that your data source is a table with more than 10,000 rows. Go to Data > [Data Source Name] > View Data and then edit the box that says 10,000 rows. For example: Replace 10,000 with 50,000 or anything higher than the number of rows you expect. Tableau will then display the exact number of rows.


You can also filter data from the Data menu if needed. Go past “View Data” – scroll down to “Edit Data Source Filters” and follow the prompts.

Now your data visualizations can be based on a complete set of unsampled data!

What About Data Updates?

The Google Spreadsheet Add-On for Google Analytics lets you schedule regular updates of data from the API. So however you choose to refresh data in Tableau, your Google Sheet can always be ready.

It’s even possible to use dynamic date ranges relative to today. In your Google Sheet, the queries can contain formulas, which update automatically depending on what day it is.

Using Google Sheets to work around the limitations, the possibilities seem nearly limitless!

Have you tried connecting Tableau with GA via the new Web Data Connector? Do you have any questions? Or any tips based on your experience? Please share in the comments.

Dorcas Alexander is a Manager for the Analytics & Insight department. Her path to LunaMetrics followed stints in ad agency creative, math, and computer science. Dorcas has a master's degree in language and information technologies from Carnegie Mellon University, where she helped build precursors to a Universal Translator. One of the top-rated tournament Scrabble players in Pennsylvania, Dorcas has an insatiable drive to compete and win.

  • Elchnase

    Hi there,
    thx for this blogpost! The poor handling of multiple GA accounts in tableau is one of my main reasons why I don’t use tableau on a regular basis yet. Is there any chance that you know if tableaus new google sheets connector supports only the above mentioned add-on for GA? There are some awesome add-ons out there to grab the GA data and put it in google sheets like supermetrics for example.

    • Dorcas Alexander

      The new connector supports not only Google Sheets but almost any web-based source. When you choose a new data source, look for the one called the Web Data Connector.

  • Patrick Wilson

    What about a Tableau Web Data Connector for YouTube Analytics? Trying to Google that gives me a ton of hits for videos on YouTube ABOUT Tableau, but not about YouTube Analytics.

    • Dorcas Alexander

      Hi Patrick, I am unaware of a Tableau connector for YouTube Analytics. YouTube does have a Reporting API, but you’d need to code your own queries and build your own Google Sheet, which you could then connect to Tableau. https://developers.google.com/youtube/analytics/v1/data_model#retrieving-reports

    • Mike Tyler

      You can use Supermetrics for Google Sheets to pull in the YouTube data and then Connect Google sheets to Tableau

  • Dan Haggerty

    Hi Dorcas,
    Thanks for this great overview.
    Just an update, it appears that Tableau is now hosting the Web Data Connector SDK which removes the need to download it or host it through something like IIS. Much more simple!

    -Dan Haggerty

  • Mike Tyler

    FYI you can also use this link: http://tableau.github.io/webdataconnector/Examples/GoogleSheetsConnector.html
    in replacement of the localhost8888 link and you do not need to go through the trouble of downloading and changing your computer settings

    • Mike Tyler

      shucks, I just noticed Dan posted something similar.

  • Mike Tyler

    It also works on MAC

  • John

    Hi Dorcas, this is great. I would suggest updating since Tableau now has a native connection to GoogleSheets.

  • Bob Molnar

    Thank you, Dorcas. Great post. I’m using the Google Sheets connector now included with Tableau Desktop 10.1.x. However, I’ve yet to determine how to embed my Google credentials when I share workbooks. In distribution, my clients are getting prompted to enter MY Google Credentials. Any thoughts? Thank you in advance.

    • Dorcas Alexander

      I wondered about how that would work – I haven’t tried it yet. Are you sharing workbooks via Tableau Online or some other method? When I upload to Tableau Online, it gives me the option to embed my credentials. In the past, I ignored this option because I didn’t have the built-in Google Sheets connector. I just got Tableau 10 a couple days ago and will be trying an upload with embedded credentials as soon as I convert all my connectors to the built-in ones.

      • Bob Molnar

        Currently, I’m trying to distribute by asking clients to use Tableau Viewer. My Tableau Desktop client (v10.1.x) is one minor version ahead of my company’s Tableau Server (10.0.x), so I needed to look for another method of distribution. From all perspectives, it seems that Tableau Desktop doesn’t even prompt to embed credentials. It does for Google Analytics as a data source, which is strange.

        • Dorcas Alexander

          You’re right – Tableau Desktop isn’t embedding any credentials. It’s asking for your credentials only so you can authorize it to gather the data from Google Analytics and bring it into Tableau Desktop. From there, you can create an extract of your data (choose “Edit Data Source”) instead of leaving it as a “Live” data connection. With an extract, anyone will be able to see the data via Tableau Viewer, but they won’t be able to update the file with new data.

          • Bob Molnar

            I didn’t think of that! Thank you! That will solve the issue for periodic reports, but I was hoping to give them reports in which they could compare up-to-yesterday’s data again historical data, which I wouldn’t be able to do with an extract. Hopefully, when we get our Tableau Server upgraded, I’ll be able to see if I can embed credentials when uploading workbooks. I’ve got the GA Add-On refreshing my most recent data set nightly. Thanks for your help!

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