Getting the Version of a Tableau Workbook in a Few Clicks

In helping other Tableau users as part of DataBlick or my pro-bono contributions to the community I get a lot of Tableau workbooks in a lot of versions, in the last two weeks I’ve received v8.3, v9.0, v9.2, v9.3, and v10beta workbooks and when I edit them I need to make sure I’m using the same version of Tableau. And I’m often frustrated because I’ll open the workbook in the wrong version of Tableau and get this message:

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 2.30.52 PM

or this one:

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 2.31.34 PM

And then I have to open it up in other versions which can take awhile. I shared this problem in a Tableau Zen Master email thread and Shawn Wallwork replied with his trick for Windows that only takes a few seconds, and I was able to take that and come up with one for the Mac as well.

The basis for this technique is that the version of the Tableau workbook is stored in the XML of the .twb (Tableau Workbook) file, in particular the version attribute of the <workbook> tag, and we can open up the XML in any old text editor, I’ve highlighted the <workbook> tag that shows this workbook was created in version 9.1:

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 2.29.44 PM

However a .twbx (Tableau Packaged Workbook) is stored as a zip file so I’ve always just opened workbooks up in different versions of Tableau until I found the right one or once in awhile took the time to fire up a zip application, extract the TWBX to a folder and then looked at the .twb file. Both of these methods are slow. Shawn pointed out a shortcut on Windows using the free 7-Zip application that only takes a few seconds, here’s a demo:

check version windows

The steps on Windows are:

  1. Right-click on the TWBX and choose 7-Zip->Open Archive.
  2. Right-click on the .twb and choose View.
  3. Find the <workbook> tag and version attribute.
  4. Close the window.

That inspired me to figure out an equivalent on the Mac. I use BBEdit for my text editor (BareBones also offers a free text editor called TextWrangler that can do the same thing) and BBEdit natively supports zip files. It turns out I can just drag the TWBX onto the BBEdit icon on the dock and BBEdit will open up the zip file:

check version mac

The steps on Mac are:

  1. Drag the TWBX to the BBEdit or TextWrangler icon.
  2. Click on the .twb.
  3. Find the <workbook> tag and version attribute.
  4. Close the window.

This will easily save me hours over the course of a year, thanks, Shawn! There’s also a feature request for making version-checking easier that you can vote up. Also, if you’d like to change the version of the file you can edit that yourself, or (if you’re ok running the workbook XML through a web-based tool) using Jeffrey Shaffer’s Tableau File Conversion Utility.

2 thoughts on “Getting the Version of a Tableau Workbook in a Few Clicks

  1. Siraj Samsudeen

    Hi Jonathan,

    I have just downloaded TextWrangler and dragged and dropped a TWBX on the TextWrangler Icon. However, I do not see the list of files as it is in your screenshot. have you tried it on TextWrangler?

    Reply

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