Tableau File Types and Concepts

 Tableau is one of the best and powerful visualization tool. I can save the data analysis or visuals or dashboards locally in our machines in different file formats. I can save or share the data in various file formats and these file formats have various extensions like .twb, .twbx, .tde, etc. I can go over each file type in this article.

So, there are many file types in Tableau:

  1. Tableau Workbook (.twb)
  2. Tableau Packaged Workbook (.twbx)
  3. Tableau Data Source (.tds)
  4. Tableau Packaged Data Source (.tdsx)
  5. Tableau Data Extract (.tde)
  6. Tableau Bookmark (.tbm)
  7. Tableau Map Source (.tms)
  8. Tableau Preference (.tps)

Tableau Workbook (.twb)

The .twb file that is tableau workbook file is the most useful file format in Tableau. As you already know tableau workbook contains many worksheets, stories, dashboards and whatever you have done in that like charts, tables, filters, sets, formatting to maps, borders, labels, colors, etc. So, all these things are presents in the .twb file in XML format. If you tried to edit it in text, then you can see all the information about each sheet and dashboard in the workbook.

I can tell you when this .twb file format is useful? Now suppose I want to duplicate a worksheet across multiple workbooks, and I need the same formatting for other workbooks too. In this case .twb file will be helpful. I just need to save the worksheet in .twb file and will use it later.

If you are creating a bookmark just by clicking on

Window -> Bookmark -> Create Bookmark and open by Tableau Bookmark or Tableau desktop or Tableau Reader.

.twb file also contain data connection information and any metadata created.

Tableau Packaged Workbook (.twbx)

However, as in the above article we have seen the .twb contains what is required for viz but it does not include the data itself. So, .twbx file is a .zip file which contains the dataset as well as .twb file.

Tableau packaged workbook files might reference tableau workbook file(.twb), background images, dataset files or extract file (.tde or .hyper files).

You can use this file to share with the users who don’t have access to data connection or users who are using Tableau without any internet connected. Tableau packaged workbook(.twbx) file also contains the images attached in dashboard as well as custom geocoding information.

To save your tableau workbook as .twbx file format, I need to click on File -> Save As -> Select .twbx option from the drop down list given there.

This file can be accessed by Tableau Desktop, Tableau Reader, etc.

Tableau Data Source (.tds)

Tableau Data source file contains all the information about data, metadata and data connection information. So, when I am connecting to a fresh data, then I need to do some aggregations, data types settings, calculated fields, custom calculations, etc. Such modifications are remains in the Tableau Data Source File (.tds file).

The .tds file have connection information and the information about data table joins in tableau.

Everything about data processing is present in the tableau data source file type, So, this file can be shared with the users who have access to the same data source. When you are connecting to the data again, then you do not need to do all the above things again. Just connect to the data through this .tds file instead. Also, your colleagues can use this file to save time on data formatting.

To create this file in Tableau desktop, right click on Data or on toolbar click on Data tab -> Data Source name -> Add to saved Data Source after this the file will saved as .tds file type.

Tableau Packaged Data Source (.tdsx)

Tableau Packaged Data Source file contains the .tds file which contains which has information about data connection as well as the data file which has data itself that is .tde file.

The extracted data might be in any format like text file, excel file, extract files like .hyper or .tde, etc.

As like .twb file contains data connection information but not data itself but .twbx contains both .twb plus extracted data too. The same is here as .tds contains connection information but not data exactly, but .tdsx contains extracted data as well as data connection information from .tds file.

So, Tableau Packaged data source files can be used to share the data source with people who don’t have access to the original data that I have locally on my machine.

I can create this file same as like .tds file like on tableau worksheet  toolbar click on Data -> Data Source name -> Add to saved Data Source -> then select the extension as .tdsx after this the file will be saved as .tdsx file type.

Tableau Data Extract (.tde)

Tableau Data extract is a very important file type in Tableau where it has extension as .tde.

This file is basically the local copy of my dataset or a snapshot of my dataset. Tableau Data extract(.tde) file contains compressed large volume of data in columnar structure which helps in storage optimization.

While connecting to data in Tableau Desktop, there is an option to connect by either ‘Live’ or ‘Extract’. If I click on ‘Extract’, then it will saves file locally in your local disc with extension .tde.

That is extract file or Tableau data extract. This file is used while connecting to slow performance databases like CSVs and while doing offline analysis as well.

Now, Is there any disadvantage of .tde file? Yes, the main factor to remember that if I am not connecting directly to the fresh data i.e. Live data or if I need refreshed data to be on my dashboard, I need to refresh the extract which is .tde file. So, In Tableau I can refresh the extract fully or I can schedule the refresh. So, to get refreshed data one more step needed is refresh data which sometimes might be time consuming.

To create a .tde file you do it as I told earlier by clicking on extract button in connection or right click on data source and click on Select Extract Data.

Tableau Bookmark (.tbm)

Tableau Bookmark File that is .tbm is generated by Window -> Select Bookmark -> Create Bookmark. This will bookmarks your specific worksheet in tableau workbook and saves it in tableau repository with .tbm extension so that you can use it whenever you want.

So, when you want to share any worksheet of a workbook or when you frequently accessing any specific worksheet, then use a tableau bookmark. I can access this file from Tableau Desktop and Tableau Reader.

In later versions of tableau i.e. after tableau version 8.1, the use of .tbm files is decreased as I can directly copy and paste the worksheets from one workbook directly to a new workbook without creating .tbm file.

Tableau Map Source (.tms)

Tableau Map Source file will contain the information about maps in Tableau and manages the geographical location information in Tableau. Basically, Tableau comes with connection of Tableau map server. So, if you are connecting to tableau map server which is not supporting to WMS standard then also you can create map in tableau just by creating a connection from Tableau Map Service (TMS). You can share this set up with your colleague just by creating a Tableau Map Source file.

If you want to create a .tms file , In Tableau toolbar click on

Map ->  Background Maps -> WMS servers and there select Export. Are you planning to use this .tms file again in future dashboards? Keep it in My Tableau Repository. So that it will be available to your every workbook.

Tableau Preference (.tps)

Tableau Preferences which is .tps file is used to create custom color palette. If you want to use specific color palettes in your project or if your client is working on specific color palette then you can create that color palette and save it as .tps file.

So that you can use it all over the Tableau workbook.

The Tableau Preference file is saved in XML file format and this file is saved in my tableau repository. Documents\My Tableau Repository\Preferences. tps

Hyper Files in Tableau (.hyper)

Hyper is the fastest and high performance in-memory data engine technology in Tableau. One can get more deeper understanding of data and faster analytics of large volume of data and a very faster data extraction of larger datasets.

Hyper is introduced in the beginning to Tableau version 10.5. So, after Tableau 10.5, if you are creating extracts then it will be in the .hyper file format instead of in .tde file format.

This .hyper files are not backward compatible. Means if you are upgrading your extract file to .hyper then it will not be open on before Tableau 10.5, It will be open only on later Tableau10.5 version.

This is just an overview on .hyper file in Tableau.

These are some of the file types of Tableau. The basic knowledge of these all file types is must if you are working on Tableau Desktop.

I hope you have understood the different file types well. If you see deeper level, there are too many file types other that above file types which I have mentioned. But among all the file formats, the well known or more useful file types are explained in this article.