Description fields that work across record types

[Today’s post is just a little trick – not that hard to work out. But I liked it, and it’s my blog, so I’m writing about it. Also, after all the efficient workbook and densification stuff I could use the break.]

I’ve recently been working on some dashboards that run against the Tableau Server audit tables so I can see what my troublesome colleagues are up to on my demo server. One of the views I created was a timeline showing what is being done:

Event Timeline

I wanted the tooltip to show the name of the object that was being accessed/created/deleted/modified, but the name is in a different field depending on the object type – e.g. workbook, view, data source, data connection, etc. And only one or two of those fields would be valid for any event record. Additionally, some events require a concatenation of the names – e.g. if I’m accessing a view I want to also know the name of the workbook that it comes from:

Simply concatenating the fields together doesn’t work as some of the values will always be NULL, and any computation against a NULL results in a NULL. So we dutifully pull out the IFNULL() function and get to work:

ifnull([DC-Name], "") + ";" +
ifnull([DS-Name], "") + ";" +
ifnull([WB-Name], "") + ";" +
ifnull([VW-Name], "")

The problem with this is, if we look at a data connection the label shows:

Exasol 1GB TPC H;;;

Or a view shows:

;;Server Audit Data; Event Timeline;

So – combining our previous finding (computation with NULL returns NULL) we can modify our calculation to be:

ifnull([DC-Name] + "; ", "") +
ifnull([DS-Name] + "; ", "") +
ifnull([WB-Name] + "; ", "") +
ifnull([VW-Name], "")

And voila! We have what we want.

Enjoy!

About Alan Eldridge

Hi. I'm Alan. By day I manage the sales consulting team for Tableau Software in Australia/New Zealand. By night, I'm a caped crusader. Or sleeping. Most often it's sleeping.
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