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Write-Back is highly flexible and this is the configuration screen that allows you to cope with your business requirements. Each configuration will lead to:

  • a user interface for data submission, that is displayed to users when they access the dashboard
  • a table on the database

The configuration is done when you are creating a dashboard that requires an input from users or when you want to make changes to an existing dashboard. You can configure Write-Back from your Tableau Desktop or Tableau Server. 

The configuration corresponds to the following main steps, which are described below on subsequent sections:

You have your configuration created and you are ready to add data! 

New Base Configuration


If you are in the middle of Write-Back configuration and need to go to the datasource screen on Tableau Desktop you may face some issues with login. Find more information here.


01 - Select Source Worksheet

Write-Back needs an existing visualization to be used as an input basis for data. The worksheets available are the ones that have been previously placed on the dashboard. They can be seen in the left side of Dashboard menu.


02 - Worksheet Source Fields

These are the measures and dimensions that will be saved on the Write-Back data set along with new fields filled by the users. The data source might have more fields, but Write-Back only acknowledges the ones used on the selected worksheet, if you need more fields you should add them there first. Typically you want to keep here any business keys that will allow you to join your existing data with data submitted through Write-Back. You may also use it for any other measures or dimensions that you want to keep a snapshot of at the time of submission. The source field's dropdown lists every source field from the selected worksheet but the fields that can be removed are the only ones that do not have any data associated.

In order to remove these fields, you need to press the 'x' sign on the pill or click the checkbox of the corresponding field in the dropdown list, but you always need to have at least one source field to be able to submit the configuration.


        

Please take into account that Measure Names and Measure Values cannot be used as source fields. These are special fields on Tableau that refer to multiple entries and on the Write-Back usage it isn't applicable. 

Be aware that you have to be careful if your source fields change their type, as you will see that having impact on Write-Back. One common example is when you change the format of a date on the Tableau viz as this might lead to a field type change from numeric (month: 01) to text (month: Jan).  If you had already configured Write-Back with this field, you will have to go to the configuration panel and adjust accordingly. More details on this in the Fields with Errors section. 



03 - Dataset Name

Here you specify your dataset name that will be used to reference this configuration and is also the table name on the database. The panel will tell on submit if the name you picked is already in use with an error message. If that's the case you should just choose a different name.

If you have already configured a dataset and you want to re-use it or create a new one that is similar please check Reloading a Configuration

04 - Add New Input fields

This is the step where you can use the full potential of the Write-Back by creating fields that will be displayed to users so they can submit values. 

Mandatory

For each field you can choose whether it is mandatory to fill by end users, for fields checked the user won't be able to submit with an empty value.  

Reorder New Fields

When you have more than one new field configured, two buttons appear that allow you to reorder them as you wish. This will impact the visual order in which they appeared on the data submission screen, for the end-users.

These buttons are only used on the standard configuration for the form UI, if you are doing a tabular configuration you can drag the pills inside the containers and place them on the correct order. For more details check this section below.  





Field Types

Write-Back has a few different types of fields that you can leverage:

  • Text
  • Numeric
  • Date and Time
  • Predefined
  • Dynamic Predefined

Text

The text fields are most suitable to add information that is corresponds to short messages/information, for instance a comment.

Be aware that the text field size is limited to 200 characters.

Numeric

The numeric fields accept both whole numbers and decimal numbers. They are great for instance to create forecasts for values present in the current data source.

Date and Time

The date and time field type option allows to insert date time or "timestamp" values. They are great to save timestamps for events that occurred or plan a day where some event will happen. You can submit only a Date but the value will be stored in the database as timestamp with 00:00:00 as hours. Submitting just a time value is not a valid option.But if you intend to submit an hour please be sure to submit both the hour and minutes correctly.

When using a Date and Time field make sure that you agree on a timezone to insert data. The value inserted is being treated as an absolute value and is not converted to UTC.

Predefined

The predefined fields are useful when you want to display a drop down selector with options for end users, they will only be able to select one of the options making it a good option for any type of categorization. When selecting a predefined field you'll be prompted with more input lines so you can write the options for it. For predefined fields you are obligated to at least insert two options otherwise you'll be prompted with an error message.

Dynamic Predefined

The dynamic predefined fields, like the predefined fields, are useful when we want to present the user with a drop down of options. The difference is that the options on dynamic predefined come from the possible values existing on a Tableau workbook parameter. Be aware that it's only possible to choose list parameters, depending on the Tableau version these values might be static or automatically updated.

05 - Field Conditions

Sometimes you want your form to be a bit more dynamic and on certain situations hide fields and simplify it, for instance when you include the option Other on a drop down and want to request further information only on that case. Field conditions enables you exactly to do that by specifying a condition you can hide and show the fields dynamically.

Conditions correspond to boolean expressions, meaning they must return true or false, and these can be built inside the condition form using multiple combined elements, auto complete is always active and will guide you on he process. To access this feature click on the condition button on the field.

The elements that can be used on expressions are:

Fields

Fields can be used meaning that the input provided by the user is placed on the expression in real time. It's not possible to use fields with the format "Date and Time" and fields with the characters '[' and ']' in the name.

Symbol to Use on Expression

Operator
[My Field] This will obtain the input value for of the field "My Field"

Operators

The list of operators available are:

Symbol to Use on Expression

Operator
=equals
!=not equals
>greater than
>=greater than or equals
<less than
<=less than or equals

Functions

Symbol to Use on Expression

Function
ANDAND both sides must be true
OROR one of the sides must be true

Other

Symbol to Use on Expression

Function
( ) Parenthesis can be used to group conditions
OROR one of the sides must be true

These are the symbols that can be used to create a condition. There is also a variety of different inputs you can use to compare fields.

Using the form

You can compare fields with other fields, with numeric values or with text. Then you can diversify your condition by applying to different fields and make some fields dependent on other fields.

In the example below the field "My Comment" will only appear if the condition is fulfilled in this case if the numeric value input on the field "My Kpi" is bigger than five, while this condition is not met the field "My Comment" remains hidden.

There is a box with the errors of the condition this way you can correct your expression. 


You can see which field has a condition by looking at the color of the symbol, if it is blue then the field has a condition. If the condition has errors an error message appears and the symbol becomes red.

06 - Choose the Right UI For Your Use Case

You can now choose what type of your user interface you want to display to the users:

Form

This is the default way to request the user input and corresponds to displaying a form

  • Useful for use cases where you want users to submit: comments, categorize or any other example where you mostly have non numeric fields.
  • Nothing else is required in terms of configuration so you can go to 08 - Interaction Options 

Table

By selecting this option you are going to request the user input on a tabular format

  • This is ideal for forecasting use cases or any other example where you have mostly numeric fields across a dimension, for instance month.
  • This mode requires additional configuration that is described on the next section.

The Tabular View toggle activates this mode and the corresponding options.

07 -Tabular Configuration

The tabular configuration allows tailoring the table according to your needs. The configuration is done by dragging the pills from the top do right section, either one by one or with multiple selection. 

The format is defined on the dataset creation and it cannot be changed on edits. Once you make a tabular configuration you cannot revert to form and the other way around. 

Sections

  • Configure Fields
    • This section is the starting point for all the fields, any field configured on the left panel of Write-Back is displayed here automatically.

Source Fields that at the end are left here will be used as business keys for any data submitted and those coordinates show up on top of the screen as Source Fields.

  • Main Form
    • Fields placed on this section are displayed as regular form to the end users and any data submitted here will be appended to the table cells. Most of the times with a forecast across months or any other set of KPIs you also want to submit information about the overall picture, maybe a description, the forecast date or version, etc. This is the section to use for that purpose. 
    • Be aware
      • being a form only New Input Fields are allowed
      • you must at least have one field
  • Table Columns & Table Rows
    • As the name says fields placed in here will drive either the table columns or rows.
    • Insert multiple numeric Input Fields on each section or in alternative one or two Source Fields. Each Source Field is going to generate multiple columns based on the data available at the Source Worksheet meaning you can easily configure the table to have for instance months on columns just by dragging that field.
    • Be aware:
      • table Input Fields can only be numeric
      • you cannot mix Input Fields with Source Fields
      • you must at least have one field on each section

Source fields might be:

  • sorted in reverse order, if that is the case you need to ensure that you reverse the order on Tableau so it show up on Write-Back.
  • have a random order, in this case you need to force the sort on the Tableau sheet so the attribute is explicitly sorted on a pre-determined order. 

This is an issue we are trying to improve together with Tableau.  

  • Read Only
    • Allows placing a Source Field that controls whether a particular cell on the table can be edited or not. When doing a forecast you might for instance want to prevent users from changing data that occurred in the past, you can do that by creating a calculate field on Tableau that returns true or false and dragging to Read Only. This calculated field is going to be evaluated on the context of each cell:
      • True means the cell cannot be changed
      • False means the cell can be freely changed
    • Be aware:
      • This is a special section that can only have one Source Field that must be boolean, on Tableau corresponds to T|F. 
      • The calculated field must be used in the worksheet as an aggregation. Only in this case we can guarantee that the functionality will work correctly with the source sheet on Tableau.

Advanced Options

These are optional settings that enable to tweak further Write-Back behavior.  

Groups

On situations where you want to work with a lot of numeric Input Fields you probably want to place them on rows, for an easy scroll, and you might also want to group them so the users can easily find them. Groups are met to organize Input Field on Table Rows allowing end users to colapse or expand each group individually and thus make it easy to find the right fields. 

Storage Options

Most of the times you want to have a well formed table to store the data:

CountryProfit ForecastCost Forecast
Portugal10090
USA1000900
UK500400

The only disadvantage of this approach is the audit, since the audit is done by row if a user makes an edit for Portugal you need to compare both Profit and Cost columns with the previous entry to see what was changed. In order to overcome this we allow fields to be stored pivoted for individual audit. The table above becomes:

CountryFIELD_NAMEFIELD_VALUE
PortugalProfit Forecast100
PortugalCost Forecast90
USAProfit Forecast1000
USACost Forecast900
UKProfit Forecast500
UKCost Forecast400

This data organization allows detailed audit per Input Field at the expense of making the table harder to read. Nevertheless it is possible to create a calculated field on Tableau for each of the Field Names and recreate the original table: 

To switch to Pivot mode:


Switching on and off pivot mode will delete all data on that field from the tables. A modal will appear for you to confirm your changes.

08 - Interaction Options

Auto-Refresh Dashboard

By default Write-Back keeps the window open so users can do multiple interactions, insert, edit or delete in a quick way. In this case feedback is provided on the timeline. 

However for use cases where you want the dashboard to be activated in real time you can activate auto-refresh.


With auto-refresh on, once the user clicks on submit the window is immediately closed and dashboard data sources are refreshed, meaning they will get the latest data submitted.

Auto-Refresh Dashboard can have performance implications depending on the data sources used on the dashboard as they are all refreshed.

Mark Required

On most use cases you want to associate user input with a particular mark on a visualization. However it is possible that you might want to do provide input across the whole dashboard, for example on a monthly report, and in this case no mark needs to be selected. 

This option enables to set this behavior on Write-Back:

  • Enabled (set by default) - User will be requested to select at least one mark before submitting data. Any data submitted is associated with the marks selected based on the source fields defined previously on the configuration. 
  • Disabled - Users can immediately click to submit data. Since no marks are selected, user inputs will be associated with all the members found for the source fields. This means that these source fields should most likely be filtered on the Tableau visualization making them unique, for instance on the monthly dashboard it would be the month and year. 



Reverse Source Values

When enabled, the tabular axis with Source Fields will reverse the order of the values from the worksheet.

Unique Entries

Write-Back can be used on may different use cases and sometimes you want to ensure that for each selection users can only provide one entry. Imagine that you want to categorize customers each one should only have one value. This is different from a commenting use case where you want to allow many comments for the same entry.  

When enabled, this option forces a one to one relationship with source fields combination and is reflected in the add data screens. In the form UI users are only allowed to have one record per mark, and, on the tabular UI, one snapshot per mark. After the first insert when someone tries to fill that mark again the UI is automatically set to edit mode, thus enforcing there can't me more than one active entry.

Customize Write-Back Button

You can customize different aspects of the Write-Back dashboard button such as text, color, and font size. This is useful to indicate to end users what they will be submitting and also to better match your dashboard look & feel.

To make this configuration you can:

  • choose a color from the color picker, to change the defaults check the installation manual, or assign a new one with an hexadecimal code.
  • define the text displayed on Name
  • assign a text size by selecting on the drop down or writing a number
    • please bear in mind the minimum size is 10


09 - Submit

To submit the configuration simply press the SUBMIT button. Please pay attention to the errors that might show up in red. Keep in mind that the fields should have different names and that the dataset name might already be used! After a successful submission Write-Back is ready to be used. 

Editing a Configuration

The structure of the configuration panel when we're editing is exactly the same as when we're first creating a configuration. However this time we'll see the previously configuration loaded and ready to be edited. 

To first start editing a configuration you need to select that option in the Tableau Extension panel (circle in read in the image), so:

  • Select the panel where the extension is running.
  • Click on the downward arrow, with the helper text "More Options".
  • After that select the configure option.
  • The screen 1 must open with the fields filled

Adding new Source Fields

When editing you can add new source fields by clicking on Add Source Fields.

On this drop down you are only able to add new fields if you want to remove check

If you already have data on the Write-Back dataset table when editing a configuration to add new source fields, they will have their columns with the values as null, therefore data will not appear in the timeline but it was not deleted from the table. 

Deleting Source Fields

If you wish to delete a source field you can do so by clicking o the x or choosing Delete Field on the drop down, see Fields with Errors. On the back end the column associated with a deleted field is dropped and any data previously submitted is lost.

Fields with Errors

A red pill indicates an error and shows up when despite the field name is configured on Write-Back it isn't found on the existing datasheet obtained from Tableau. Bear in mind that if the source datasheet name is not found Write-Back defaults to the first one found.

To fix a red pill you can:

  • Replace by another field:
    • This feature is useful if you have changed the underlying dashboard and want to fix the fields without losing data previously submitted. 

    • The pill drop-down only shows up when compatible fields to rename to exist, there must be a field of the same type (Numeric, Text, etc) that is still not listed there (not checked in add source fields drop down).

    • When you click the field and rename it, the drop-down retains the column and the data on the back end but changes the name of the field.  

  • Delete the field
    • If you really wish to delete the field and replace it with a new one, you need to remove the former field by clicking on Delete Field inside the drop down and add the new source field afterwards.

Changing Field Types

Changing a field type or switching between storage type will delete all data on that field from the tables. The action only completes once the edit data set button is clicked. A modal will appear for you to confirm your changes, like in the image below.



On the left we have an example of a modal when changing a field type and on the right an example of when we're attempting to delete a field or the dataset.

Loading Saved Datasets

Existing datasets can be loaded so they are easily re-used on a different use case. Complex datasets can be reloaded to be used as a template for a different use case or you can re-use the same exact dataset on two dashboards. 

To reload a saved dataset configuration click on the corresponding icon and window pops-up. 


In this window, all the previously configured dataset (that were not deleted) will show up, you can search them by name and when you find the desired one you can simply click on it to select. By clicking Go you should fill all the fields in the configuration screen exactly how it was when that selected dataset was configured. Here's an example:


 

After loading the saved dataset you can choose to provide a new name becoming a new dataset, the button at bottom changes to SUBMIT AS.... As an alternative you can keep the existing name and thus using the same dataset twice. By using the same dataset twice both dashboards will write to the same table and any configuration change will have impact n both. Hence when you click on SUBMIT a warning is displayed:

After loading a dataset any subsequent changes will override the configuration on any dashboard where it is used, unless you choose to provide a new name. 

When performing and edit on a configuration that is already saved on the dataset, the button to load Saved Datasets does not show up. This is intended as this action is not meant to happen if a configuration is already saved on the dataset.



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