What happens when I click the Performance Recording in Tableau?

One of the customers recently asked me “what happens when I click performance recording” in Tableau?

Now, what was surprising was, that this person, who is proficient in Tableau Desktop was asking me the question. Which made me wonder, why?

Why, did he just not click it himself and see what happens?

I think there is a mix of reasons behind why a lot of people haven’t clicked this option.

  1. Terms like “Performance Recording” itself may have deterred them
    • Maybe, they think a bunch of operations will start behind the scenes or a crazy workflow will be initiated and they are simply fearful of the consequences
  2. The users don’t notice any change to the interface upon clicking this option
    • 2016-02-24_14-34-31

I am here to tell you that this is an amazing feature to understand what your dashboards are doing behind the scenes and how you can utilize the information captured by “performance recording” to ensure that you create dashboards that truly provide rapid-fire business intelligenceyou promised.

“It is the first tool you should utilize to understand your performance issues”

Let’s address the first reason, if you are worried about what might happen when you click this option, don’t be.

When you click on the “Start Performance Recording” option, Tableau Desktop has now enabled a feature to capture all interactions you will have with the Desktop

  • This includes connecting to a data source, executing queries when you filter, navigate, etc.

The details on all of these interactions and the duration are being captured in tab delimited file on your local machine.

After click on “Start Performance Recording”, just go ahead and interact with the dashboard as you typically might. Or your end user might. Or randomly click and filter for various options, whatever you fancy.

Then once you think you have enough data to review, go back to the Help and choose “Stop Performance Recording”




Now, at this point, just be patient for a few seconds.

Tableau Desktop is going to instantiate another window and open a dashboard that connects to the data you just captured, and show you some very useful analytics about your interactions.

If you have recently read my other article Tableau Data Extracts, I used performance recording to capture the stats for that article.

Once Tableau is done connecting, you will see a dashboard that looks like this

Performance Recording Default Landing Page


The idea here is to show the slowest running queries at the top.

Not just that, you can actually click on that query to see the details. The bottom pane will show you the details of the query that Tableau ran against your database

Longest Running Query – Details

Here is a quick change that I typically make my performance recording:-

I go to the Timeline sheet (second in the middle) and add the field “Start Index” at the beginning so this sheet looks a bit like this

Performance Recording Timeline – Edited


Now, I can see the results of the queries in the same order as I was interacting with the dashboard. Much more useful, eh?

Hope this help. I must say, everyone who has clicked on this option, has always gone back to this feature to do the analysis of their dashboard performance.

You gotta try it… don’t be fearful. Tableau isn’t writing any of these stats to the database. Quite frankly, there is no additional load to your database, just a bit of extra load on your machine where you have Tableau Desktop.

Now, regarding the second reason, I think it would be great for Tableau Desktop to add some sort of indicator so the user knows that Tableau is recording the performance stats. Better yet, open the performance workbook and show real-time streaming data from the performance stats file as you click on the dashboard. Wouldn’t that be something?

Published by

Lovekesh Babbar

Speaker on topics related to data, analytics and digital transformation