Connecting to SAS ODBC in Tableau

Product(s): Professional Edition, Tableau Server
Version(s): All
Last Modified Date: 16 Aug 2016

Tableau has made some important stability enhancements for unsupported third-party ODBC data sources such as SAS ODBC. Now connecting to databases using the "Other Database (ODBC)" option (Windows only) provides a more capable and reliable connection due to improvements in how Tableau establishes ODBC connections.

This article is intended for people who have SAS ODBC drivers for connecting to SAS data set files or SAS/SHARE servers. You should be familiar with the information in the Tableau and ODBC article, which discusses Tableau's requirements and level of support for ODBC data sources. Before you make any SAS ODBC connections, carefully review the details in this article to determine whether the SAS ODBC enhancements are right for you.

Important: Tableau does not support or test third party ODBC data sources like SAS ODBC. This article is intended to provide general guidance on certain configurations that may allow Tableau to connect to data sources that use the general purpose ODBC standard. Refer to the Tableau and ODBC article for more information.

Objective and caveats

Although Tableau is designed to support data sources that follow ODBC and SQL standards, not all data sources follow these standards. Tableau 6.1.4 addresses many issues associated with ODBC drivers that deviate from the ODBC and SQL standards. These drivers typically have limited functionality or problems with stability. When using SAS ODBC, Tableau recommends that you work from a Tableau data extract for reliable functionality and performance, especially for data sources that do not have standard SQL syntax.


You must be able to install a licensed copy of the SAS ODBC driver. While Tableau cannot yet validate or support connectivity to SAS ODBC, Tableau recommends using SAS ODBC 9.1 or later, with SAS ODBC 9.2 providing the best stability and performance.

Note: In some cases, connecting to SAS servers require SHARE servers.

Get Started with Tableau and SAS

Installing and Configuring SAS ODBC

First, you must install a licensed copy of a 32-bit SAS ODBC driver. You will need the 32-bit driver even if you are running the 64-bit version of Tableau on your machine. After installing the driver, follow the steps below to create a database source name (DSN) to use with Tableau connections.

Step 1 

Click Start, and in the search box type Run.

Step 2 

In the list of results, click Run.

Step 3 

Depending on the version of your OS, type the following in the Run dialog box to launch the 32-bit version of the Windows ODBC Administrator tool:

  • 32-bit machine: %windir%\system32\odbcad32.exe
  • 64-bit machine: C:\Windows\SysWOW64\odbcad32.exe

Step 4 

Add a new DSN for SAS ODBC to set the following properties required for stable behavior:

  • Records to Buffer = 1000
  • Support VARCHAR = checked
  • Disable _0 override parsing = checked
  • Infer type in min/max functions = checked

Connecting to SAS ODBC from Tableau Desktop

In Tableau Desktop 6.1.4 or later, select Data > Connect to Data > Other Databases (ODBC).

When you have completed the information needed in the Generic ODBC Connection dialog box, you may see a message that warns you that limitations of the data source requires you to create an extract for full functionality and performance. For SAS ODBC connections, Tableau recommends creating a data extract.

Working with Tableau Server

Tableau Server does not require any changes to support workbooks that use data extracts from SAS ODBC connections. To schedule refreshes to your data extracts, the Tableau Server machine will need similar configuration changes as your Tableau Desktop machine. The steps for configuring Tableau Server are the same as above, except that you must create a System DSN (instead of a User DSN) on the Tableau Server machine and use the exact name as the DSN you created for use with Tableau Desktop.

Known Issues

The following list contains know issues with SAS ODBC data connections.

Live Versus Extract-based Connections: Live connections to SAS ODBC in Tableau does not provide the same performance and functionality as an extract-based connection.

DSN Versus Driver Connections: You can create an ODBC connection by using a DSN or the driver connection mode. The latter option requires the ODBC driver to provide the details necessary to connect without using a DSN. The driver connection mode is more portable between different machines; however, the SAS ODBC driver does not provide the necessary configuration options that a SAS DSN provides. For this reason, it is necessary for you to use a DSN with SAS ODBC connection.

Extract Creation Performance: In most cases, Tableau can quickly create a data extract through a SAS ODBC connection. To help ensure stability, Tableau must only query a single row at a time when creating an extract. This may impact performance.


Alternate Search Terms:Information Data Sources driver dsn odbc SAS SAS/SHARE
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