Data Science Toolbox: How to use R with Tableau

Recently Tableau released an exciting new feature: R integration via RServe. Tableau with R seems to bring my data science toolbox to the next level! In this tutorial I’m going to walk you through the installation and connecting Tableau with RServe. I will also give you an example of calling an R function with a parameter from Tableau to visualize the results in Tableau.

1. Install and start R and RServe

You can download base R from r-project.org. Next, invoke R from the terminal to install and run the RServe package:

> install.packages("Rserve")
> library(Rserve)
> Rserve()

To ensure RServe is running, you can try Telnet to connect to it:

Telnet

2. Connecting Tableau to RServe

Now let’s open Tableau and set up the connection:

Tableau 10 Help menu

Tableau 10 External Service Connection

3. Adding R code to a Calculated Field

You can invoke R scripts in Tableau’s Calculated Fields, such as k-means clustering controlled by an interactive parameter slider:

Calculated Field in Tableau 10

4. Use Calculated Field in Tableau

You can now use your R calculation as an alternate Calculated Field in your Tableau worksheet:

Tableau 10 showing k-means clustering

Feel free to download the Tableau Packaged Workbook (twbx) here.

[Update 26 Jun 2016]: Tableau 8.1 screenshots were updated with Tableau 10.0 (Beta) screenshots due to my upcoming Advanced Analytics session at TC16, which is going to reference back to this blog post.