Tableau vs arcgis

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More spatial data power in Tableau: Connect to Esri and Oracle

The upcoming Tableau 2020.2 release comes jam-packed with many great features, bringing significant updates to enhance your geospatial analysis. We’re expanding Tableau’s spatial database connections to make solving location-based questions easier than ever.

Connect directly to your Esri ArcGIS Server/Online feature data

Spend less time sourcing data and more time in analysis. In Tableau 2020.2, you can connect Tableau directly to your location data in Esri by simply entering in an ArcGIS Server URL or GeoService API URL. Say goodbye to the days of having to manually track when your data changes, download the new data from Esri ArcGIS, and then upload into Tableau—with this feature, not only can you connect directly to your Esri ArcGIS map services and feature services, you can also schedule automated refreshes of this data, to ensure your visualization is always up to date.

Accessing your Esri data in Tableau is simple. As long as your data does not require authentication to access and is made available as a feature service or a map service, Tableau can connect to it. Simply input a URL that points to your ArcGIS Server, or a GeoService API URL that points to a specific data layer, and Tableau will handle the rest.

Use Tableau and Esri together to elevate your spatial analysis

Let’s say you work in city planning in Portland, Oregon, and you want to analyze the various public transit lines of the city. Simply navigate to the desired layer in the browser, copy the URL, and paste it into the Tableau Esri Connector.

You can also use this capability to connect to your data via GeoService API. If you were interested in studying the topography of the big Island of Hawaii, for example, you could navigate to Hawaii’s Open Data Portal, find the desired data set, copy the GeoService API, and paste it into Tableau to connect.

In addition to accepting URLs that point to a specific data layer, this connector accepts URLs that point to your ArcGIS Server’s root, folders, groups, or servers, so you have complete control over what tables the connector should retrieve.

This capability is also designed to work well with the rest of Tableau, meaning that you can utilize all of the great interactivity, filtering, spatial joining, and spatial calculations in Tableau with your Esri data. In addition, this connector is compatible with Tableau’s automated extract refresh feature, so you can tell your data source how often to refresh itself. The days of manually updating spatial data are over.

Connect directly to your spatial data in Oracle

The 2020.2 release will also include native support for spatial data from Oracle. Like working with Esri data, customers will no longer have to export spatial data out of their database just to be able to visualize it in Tableau. Support for Oracle spatial data is similar to how Tableau supports spatial data from SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Greenplum. You can use a live or extract connection or leverage custom SQL to execute a broad range of spatial capabilities supported by the database.

We’d love your feedback

Is there a spatial data source you want Tableau to support? We would love to hear from you. Submit your request on the Tableau Ideas Forum today. Every idea is an important data point for making decisions about what to build next in Tableau.

Until then, join the pre-release program to try out these new features, or visit our Coming Soon page to learn more about our other upcoming features in the 2020.2 release. Go forth and make beautiful maps!


From Tableau to ArcGIS: Putting Spatial Data Visualization In Its Place

We are firm believers that you should be able to do more with your data. With the number of advanced data visualizations solutions out there, making your data work for you – instead of the other way around – has become more realistic and less daunting than ever before.

This is especially true for Geographic Information System (GIS) data.

Thanks to programs like ArcGIS, the mapping of spatial data has moved beyond paper and endless patience. Thanks to programs like Tableau, spatial data can be analyzed and visualized just like it were any other piece of information. Thanks to the industrious organizations looking for both, using these solutions alongside one another is becoming a more frequent practice.

If you are reading this, you likely have an idea of what Tableau can and cannot do. Primarily a data visualization application, it has seen strides in the last year on the mapping front. Allowing users to import specific data types, it is now easier for Geographic Information System (GIS) users to employ robust data visualization tools against their spatial data. For some with little to no previous exposure with this technology, it is offering a way to interact with a science they may not have been aware of otherwise.

For those who have dipped a toe in either software pool, maybe now you have found yourself wondering...

Why not just use one or the another? What are the benefits of using both?

Well, it’s funny you should ask.

Visualizing Spatial Data with Tableau

Tableau is designed for analyzing and visualizing data, leaving the user to decide how advanced of a journey on which to embark. As shown below, the clean interface allows for drag-and-drop functionality to quickly build – and even more quickly modify – comparisons of variables in classic modules like scatter plots, line graphs, and more.

The ability to easily create and distribute these graphs so commonly found in the analysis and reporting process is something Esri does not immediately offer in ArcGIS outside of integration with Microsoft Office software.

While these features in Tableau hold their own, the mapping functionality incorporated in the application is still a work in progress. Spatial data may be uploaded via Esri files (.shp, .shx, or .dbf) or KML files (.kml). This data may then be displayed geographically, creating vibrant choropleth maps – and even manipulating select groups to show more advanced mapping techniques like heat maps.

ArcGIS is Alive

Despite Tableau integrating mapping features and having more in the pipeline, it is not a solid replacement for Esri in many businesses. There are still quite a few things ArcGIS has going for it that have yet to make their way into this solution, such as…

  1. Not All File Types Allowed - Tableau can only import .shp, .shx, and .dbf files from the Esri environment. Feature classes – let alone geodatabases – and layer files are not permitted.

  2. Complex Geometries Get Tricky - Points and polygons translate well to Tableau. However, lines and mixed-type geometries may have an issue.

  3. Multitudes of Map Projections vs. One and Only - ArcGIS offers many options for map projections to better suit the region, data, standards, etc. Tableau has a default map projection for all data and region, with no discernible alternatives in the pipeline.

  4. Interpolation Issues - While Tableau is a pro at advanced analysis involving graphing and charting, advanced interpolation techniques for geographic data are tricky at best – impossible at worst. This includes tasks like the aggregation of points to form a new geographic feature, as an example.

  5. Everything but the View Sync - When displaying multiple maps within a Tableau dashboard, it is not possible to synchronize the view. On the other hand, this is a function Esri has managed to do well with solutions like ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, etc.

These are just a few points, the importance of which may differ depending on the user, company, task, project, and more. Despite the disparities, they do make great companion tools for study and reporting.

Importing Alternative Data Types in Tableau

Recommended companions or no, being able to import spatial data from ArcGIS to Tableau is a genuine concern – especially for those who either do not wish to convert their coveted feature classes and layer files to shapefiles or even have too many to make the process justified.

Thankfully, solutions like Integrated Portage exist for a reason. Stay strong, everyone. Don’t let those shapefiles get to you.

Designed for ArcMap, this Add-In allows the Geographic Information System (GIS) user to convert feature classes and layer files into formats easily consumed by Tableau, like Microsoft Access Databases (.mdb) and Tableau Data Extracts (.tde). Records, or database tables, may also be given the conversion treatment. Once exported, they may be consumed by Tableau and visualized to heart’s content.

Defining Spatial Data from Tableau Exports

Likewise, Tableau data exports can be imported into ArcGIS through the Integrated Portage Add-In. This is handy functionality should a coworker or manager wish to play around the data, but require it be in an Esri-compatible format.

Whether using ArcGIS and Tableau independently or together, they are both valuable and powerful solutions to problems we often face in creating, analyzing, and visualizing our complex spatial data. We like the complement they pay one another. We like even better when the process to move data from one platform to another is as easy as the run of a tool. We hope that you would agree.

Integrated Portage is an Add-In for ArcGIS built to assist users working with both ArcGIS and Tableau software secure an easier transition in their data workflows. With specialized tools, it allows users to convert spatial data files to formats, like Tableau Data Extracts (TDEs), consumable by Tableau as well as convert Tableau files to formats used by the ArcGIS platform. For more information about this toolkit, visit the Solutions page or go to the Solution Shop to purchase now.

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Tableau VS ArcGIS

Tableau can help anyone see and understand their data. Connect to almost any database, drag and drop to create visualizations, and share with a click.

ArcGIS software is a data analysis, cloud-based mapping platform that allows users to customize maps and see real-time data ranging from logistics support to overall mapping analysis.

Tableau Landing Page
ArcGIS Landing Page

Power BI vs Tableau 🔥 5 Factors to Choose a Winner

More videos:

  • - What is Tableau Desktop? | A Tableau Desktop Overview
  • - Tableau Software Demo

What is ArcGIS?

More videos:

  • - ArcGIS Data Reviewer: An Introduction
  • - ArcGIS Data Reviewer: Integrating Data Quality Control into Web Applications

Category Popularity

0-100% (relative to Tableau and ArcGIS)


These are some of the external sources and on-site user reviews we've used to compare Tableau and ArcGIS

Tableau Reviews

Best Data Visualization Tools

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A Complete Overview of the Best Data Visualization Tools

The public version of Tableau is free to use for anyone looking for a powerful way to create data visualizations that can be used in a variety of settings. From journalists to political junkies to those who just want to quantify the data of their own lives, there are tons of potential uses for Tableau Public. They have an extensive gallery of infographics and visualizations...


The Best Data Visualization Tools - Top 30 BI Software

Tableau helps people transform data into actionable insights that make an impact. Users can easily connect to data stored nearly anywhere, in nearly any format. The drag and drop feature help you create interactive dashboards with advanced visual analytics. With Tableau you can create charts, maps, graphs, and several other graphics. The company also gives users the option...


15 Best Business Intelligence Tools For Small And Big Business

How did Tableau help the restaurant group? The system put in place improved decision making on material usage, as it integrated data across several applications. Thanks to the tool, the company was able to order supplies in line with its demand trends. Another invaluable benefit was managing risk and comparing their performance to internal and market expectations to wrap up...


List of 10 Best Business Intelligence Software Tools

How did Tableau help the restaurant group? The system put in place improved decision making on material usage, as it integrated data across several applications. Thanks to the tool, the company was able to order supplies in line with its demand trends. Another invaluable benefit was managing risk and comparing their performance to internal and market expectations to wrap up...


ArcGIS Reviews

We have no reviews of ArcGIS yet.
Be the first one to post

Social recommendations and mentions

Based on our record, Tableau seems to be more popular. It has been mentiond 2 times since March 2021. We are tracking product recommendations and mentions on Reddit, HackerNews and some other platforms. They can help you identify which product is more popular and what people think of it.

Tableau mentions (2)

  • Is Tableau right for my project?
    Head over to and start hitting the forums, the free web based training. It's decent content. Youtube has a ton of stuff too. - Source: Reddit / 19 days ago
  • Good hypothesis testing infrastructure?
    The software company I work for makes analytics tools for this purpose. ( - Source: Reddit / 7 months ago

ArcGIS mentions (0)

We have not tracked any mentions of ArcGIS yet. Tracking of ArcGIS recommendations started around Mar 2021.

What are some alternatives?

When comparing Tableau and ArcGIS, you can also consider the following products

Looker - Looker makes it easy for analysts to create and curate custom data experiences—so everyone in the business can explore the data that matters to them, in the context that makes it truly meaningful.

QGIS - QGIS is a desktop geographic information system, or GIS.

Metabase - Metabase is the easy, open source way for everyone in your company to ask questions and learn from...

Mapbox - An open source mapping platform for custom designed maps. Our APIs and SDKs are the building blocks to integrate location into any mobile or web app.

Qlikview - QlikView is business intelligence software that gives companies a direction using full business analysis to navigate a competitive market.

Google Maps - Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps.

User reviews

Share your experience with using Tableau and ArcGIS. For example, how are they different and which one is better?

Post a review

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Esri ArcGIS Server

This article describes how to connect Tableau to an Esri ArcGIS Server and set up the data source. The connector also supports connections via GeoService API.

This connector works with ArcGIS Server (AGS) v10.3.1 and higher.

Note: This connector uses Tableau’s Web Data Connector (WDC), which requires an internet connection and the ability to reach

Before you begin

Before you begin, gather this connection information:

  • URL for the Esri ArcGIS Server that you want to connect to

  • URL for the GeoService API that points to the data you want to connect to

In Esri ArcGIS Server, make sure that the following conditions are met:

  • Be sure to publish data to ArcGIS Online and share as "Public".

  • Publish your data in a geo-database to ensure pagination support.

  • Enable Query capability for published Esri services.

Make the connection and set up the data source

  1. Start Tableau and under Connect, select Esri ArcGIS Server. For a complete list of data connections, select More under To a Server. Then do the following:
    1. Enter the URL for the Esri ArcGIS Server that hosts the tables that you want to connect to.


      • Use https URLs and make them as specific as possible to speed performance. Tableau’s Web Data Connector (WDC) framework supports only HTTPS endpoints and scans every service in the instance.

        It's best to specify a folder, service, or service layer rather than a root URL. Examples:

        • Root:

        • Folder:

        • Service:

        • Service Layer:

  2. On the data source page, do the following:

    1. (Optional) Select the default data source name at the top of the page, and then enter a unique data source name for use in Tableau. For example, use a data source naming convention that helps other users of the data source figure out which data source to connect to.

    2. Under Table, select a table or use the search field to search for a table by name.

    3. Drag a table to the canvas, and then select the sheet tab to start your analysis.

Troubleshooting Esri ArcGIS connections

Because the Esri ArcGIS Server connector is built around the Web Data Connector (WDC), there are several limitations to be aware of.

  • The Esri ArcGIS Server connector does not support definition queries.
  • The Esri ArcGIS Server connector does not support live connections, and will always create an extract. A packaged workbook with an ArcGIS connection can be opened in versions of Tableau older than 2019.4, but you will be unable to refresh the extract.
  • The connector searches only for MapServer and FeatureServer service types.
  • The connector ignores the esriFieldTypeBlob and esriFieldTypeRaster types.
  • Esri geometry types are limited to the following:
    • esriGeometryPoint
    • esriGeometryMultipoint
    • esriGeometryLine
    • esriGeometryPath
    • esriGeometryPolyline
    • esriGeometryPolygon
    • esriGeometryEnvelope
  • If the ArcGIS Server contains multiple layers or tables with identical names within a service, only one is displayed.
  • Editing the connection may cause an "Invalid map <k,t>" error. If that happens, close and reopen the workbook.

License disclosures

The Esri ArcGIS Server Connector uses the arcgis-to-geojson-utils(Link opens in a new window) open source library under the Apache License version 2.0(Link opens in a new window). A copy of the license is available in the repository’s LICENSE(Link opens in a new window) file.

See also


Vs arcgis tableau

GeoCommonsGoogle Fusion TablesTableauArcGISEase of UseEasy, but clean data before uploadIntermediate, mapping and dataset merging can require some effortEasy. Data manipulation possible within programIntermediate. Clean data needed, and there's a learning curve, but lots of assistance, guides and flexibilityDescriptionOnline mapping of user-generated data. Variety of user-created data and maps to which data may be appended.Online visualization of user-generated data.  User-created data available for merging.Desktop and online mapping and visualization of user-generated dataDesktop mapping of user-generated data.  Online sharing possible through ArcGIS Online.URL

Desktop based (except ArcGIS Online)File TypesCSV files, shapefiles, KML, RSS, ATOM, GeoRSSExcel spreadsheets, CSV files, delimited text files, KML filesExcel, Access, text files, plus a variety of connections to data soruces with Tableau ProfessionalMap formats: shapefiles, layers, map packages and others

Data formats: Excel, delimited text, Access databaseWeb ServicesLive data from WMS and Tile services, as well as from Oracle, MySQL, PostresSQL, MongroDB, and HBase-based datasetsAPI available for use with web interfaces, other servicesOData, Windows Azure MarketplaceArcGIS Online Map services, basemap service (Esri)VisualsMaps, basic chartsMaps, heat maps, variety of chartsMaps, basic chartsMaps, basic chartsGeocodingGeocoding of addresses, joining other geographies to existing boundary files (US counties, etc.)Geocoding to limited set of geographies (cities, states, nation-states, etc.) Manual geocoding by joining data to existing KML definition of geographies

* NOTE: Refer to standard codes to join to states, etc.

Geocoding to addresses (best results include address, city, state and ZIP in one column)

Geocoding to lat/lng coordinatesArea codes, FIPS codes, county/state/country names, ZIP codes, ISO country codes and others.  Latitude/longitude pairs also possible. Address must be geocoded in another programGeocoding of addresses, joining data to boundary files (US counties, etc.)SharingWeb link, permissions can allow others to edit or restrict viewingEmbeddable code for HTML, sharing to specific users or entire world via Google Docs (including permission levels to edit for specific users)Embeddalbe code for HTML, sharing via link to Tableau Software serverArcGIS online, export images, KML filesOther NotesCapability to produce new data from existing data (for example, turning raw counts of employment and manufacturing employment into a proportion)

Clipping, intersections, distance filtering, buffers and many other tools are also available

Easy to use, but error messages can be difficult to interpret

IE seems to hang at times.  Firefox works fine.

Very useful when filters (for particular years, states, etc.) are needed.  Produces attractive graphs, nice maps if you don't need custom work

Great when you need a Javascript-accessible database for data or visualization output on a web page

Merging with other datasets can be very tricky.  Evaluate results closely (number of observations, added variables, etc.)

KML boundaries for counties and other common geographies are available for use with your data. Create and upload a KML for less common geographies.

Very easily and intuitive, imagine Excel with display of geographic data as easily displayed

BatchGeo can be used to geocode address prior to import into Tableau

With patience, this is the best tool to build customized maps.  Multiple methods to categorize observations & perform analyses

See this guide for an overview of ArcGIS 10

Connecting to Spatial Files in Tableau Public

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