Send Email Alerts to Anyone on Any Condition with VizAlerts

By Matt Coles 20 Mai, 2016

Want to send email alerts from Tableau Server to anyone you’d like, on any condition you’d like? But how, you ask? The answer is simple—and free!—thanks to the help of Tableau’s brilliant community.

VizAlerts is a free-to-use-as-is, open-source tool that works a lot like subscriptions do. Subscribe to your viz on a schedule, and if there’s any data in your view when it runs, you get an email. If there isn’t, you don’t.

Conditional subscriptions, rule-based alerts, push notifications, report bursting—VizAlerts can do it all on Tableau Server. You can create conditions in your alerts simply by filtering out what you don’t want to know about.

We've used this tool internally to build more than sixty alerts that automatically inform us when systems behave unexpectedly—extract refreshes failing, data not meeting quality standards, and countless other use cases. It’s been extremely useful.

We’ve just released VizAlerts 1.1.0, and we have the Tableau community to thank. Let me explain.

When we first released VizAlerts a few months ago, it couldn’t yet do everything we wanted. Sure, you could customize the recipients and the subject of the emails it sent, and you could add whatever HTML text you wanted to the email body. But beyond that, it could only contain a single image of a viz, and it was a little awkward to get these images in there.

Enter Tableau Zen Master Jonathan Drummey.

Jonathan reached out to me with a question. He wanted to use VizAlerts on a project he was working on with PATH: eliminating malaria in Zambia. He wanted to know: Could he contribute some code for the new features he would need?

We talked about what VizAlerts needed and how to best implement it. We went back and forth a few times based on code reviews. As a direct result of Jonathan’s help, we released a new version of VizAlerts that’s certain to make all your alerting dreams come true!

VizAlerts 1.1.0 can:

  • Embed or attach images, CSVs, and PDFs from any other Tableau Server viz
  • Filter any of that viz content using URL parameter filters
  • Merge separate viz images into a single multi-page PDF

...and so much more!

The net result is that VizAlerts can now email any Tableau dashboard you’d like to anyone you’d like, on any condition you’d like. It was great before, but now it’s downright amazing—in my own humble opinion, of course.

Naturally, you’re already wondering: How can I start using this on my own Tableau Server? Simply grab the latest release from our GitHub page and follow the instructions in the install_guide.docx file. It will take you through everything you need to set up VizAlerts for the first time. If you’re upgrading from VizAlerts 1.0.8, please see the instructions for doing so here. And finally, if you need any help, have questions, or want to provide feedback, please let us know on our public group on the Community Forum.

It’s been amazing to see the Tableau community collaborating together on this project. Without your support, this entire project never would have happened.

I would like to thank two members of it in particular. Jonathan Drummey, thank you for working so diligently and brilliantly to take VizAlerts to new functional heights. Toby Erkson, thank you for your Herculean efforts in thoroughly testing our major releases—you don’t let me get away with anything! It is a privilege to work with both of you.

If you haven’t already tried out this tool, I’d encourage you to do so. If you have, let us know what you think over at the VizAlerts page over on the Community. We’d love your feedback.


Submitted by Toby (not verified) on

Matt, your VizAlerts is the answer to the constant complaint of trigger-based subscriptions. Your vision and initiative to tackle this issue is amazing. Thanks for stepping up and doing this incredible task!!!

Jonathan's work was that shot of nitrous that gave VizAlerts a boost in data output flexibility. Thanks so much, Jonathan! I think Tableau should upgrade your Zen rock to a boulder :-D

Thank you both! I am your humble Tableau Padawan, learning from Masters.

Submitted by Lee (not verified) on

I'd be curious to know what features of VizAlerts will become unneeded because of v10 coming out this year. No doubt VizAlerts provides some very nice features, but I don't want to implement it and then later have native ways to do some of this. Thoughts? BTW, this release of VizAlerts added what I've been waiting for! Job well done!

Submitted by Arthur Frisch (not verified) on

Is this available for Tableau Online?

Submitted by Matt C. on

Hey Lee, that's a fair question that's hard to answer--features get pulled into earlier releases than planned, or vice-versa so it's hard to make promises so far out. But if the Beta for v10 is what you go off of (, including a "Subscribe others" feature for Subscriptions is the only feature that really overlaps with what VizAlerts does. So if you wanted to use it simply to subscribe others to a normal Subscription, I don't think I'd go for it.

But conditional alerts are not listed, nor subscription content that pulls from multiple workbooks, nor dynamic content of any sort, or attachments in alternate formats (CSV, PDF). So if you are after any of those things, it's worth considering.

Submitted by Matt C. on

Hi Arthur. Unfortunately, VizAlerts does not work with Tableau Online. We'd like for it to work with it, but there are three critical features VizAlerts relies on (direct repository database access, trusted authentication, and Schedule creation) that Server has, which Online does not. Those pose obstacles we haven't yet found a way to overcome.

Submitted by Matt C. on

"Shot of nitrous"--a great characterization of Jonathan's contributions! Thanks Toby! Glad to hear it's continued to be useful for you guys.

Submitted by Lee (not verified) on

Thanks for the reply Matt. I agree with you. I think the benefits of VizAlerts are too many to ignore and wait for the product to catch up.

Submitted by Michael Perillo (not verified) on

Amazing work from Tableau and the Community. This has been a very impressive, and much needed, feature to compliment Tableau Server. Very excited to see more innovations and creativity come from this

Submitted by Eryk W. on

Great job!
Is it possible to create subscriptions for non-users (i.e. emails/users which don't have access to Tableau Server)?

Submitted by Andrew K. (not verified) on

Thank you for this tool! It is going to save me a ton of time. I just spent two hours with Professional services trying to figure out how to merge PDFs and I thought I was going to have to use tabcmd to pull down the workbook, parse the XML and republish the workbook to get it to print the way I wanted.

Once it is installed do the interactors have access to edit their subscriptions through the server portal or are any new subscriptions created on the back end?

Submitted by Matt C. on

Hey Eryk: Yes, with VizAlerts it is. Any email address you wish to deliver to is specified via a calc in your viz. You can put any value you want in there, whether it's a simple email address or a distribution list, and you can derive it via a static string calc or derive the recipients from your data dynamically. However, you should be aware that the Tableau Server Admin needs to whitelist any and all email domains you want to send to, so you won't be able to send it to a Gmail address unless they allow it.

Submitted by Matt C. on

Hi Andrew, I'm not totally sure I understand the question, so let me try and answer it by describing how things work with VizAlerts. There are two kinds of email alerts you can build at present:

"Simple" alerts: These are "pull" alerts, where in order to receive a notification, Tableau Server users must opt-in by subscribing to a viz that's been built for that purpose. They do so just like they'd do for a normal Subscription, so they must have all the permissions they'd normally need for doing so. It's also possible for them to create a customized View from the standard viz, then subscribe to that instead, if the author has exposed filters and such. So in this case, the person receiving the alert *will* be able to turn it off, or even perhaps change it if they can do so by altering their own customized view.

"Advanced" alerts: These work in a "push" fashion. An author builds a viz designed to push emails out (see the user guide for this), then subscribes to it themselves. If anyone besides the author subscribes, it will be disregarded by VizAlerts. So the recipients do not subscribe to the viz in this scenario, but do receive the email, and they cannot unsubscribe themselves. It's certainly possible to grant them permissions to modify your viz, but that's probably a bad idea. A better one is to include some text in your emails that give them a way to opt out. Perhaps by emailing you. IF you can get the opt-out list in a structured form, you can blend it into your alert viz and filter them all the opt-outs automatically, which is pretty darn cool if I do say so myself!

I hope that answers your question! If not, stop on by and we can walk through some examples if you feel it'd be helpful.

Submitted by Kevin M. on

This looks awesome! Hopefully it's exactly what we have been looking for. Looking forward to getting it set up on Server then seeing how she runs!

Thanks Matt and Jonathan!

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Submitted by Jonathan D. on

Thank you, Toby! And thanks to Matt for creating it in the first place and all his help to me in adding to the code!

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Submitted by chinmayesri (not verified) on

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Submitted by Raghuraman (not verified) on


Does this work on Tableau desktop, or is server version compulsary

Submitted by Matt C. on

Hey Raghuraman. You must have Tableau Server to use this tool.

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