Redirect HTTPS Tableau Traffic to a Valid URL

You’ve heard it before: it’s past time to encrypt ALL the things! Even internal traffic should be encrypted, since you never know what rogue devices or people may be listening on an ethernet port or an unsecured hotspot. That’s why, when I inherited a Tableau server, I decided that encryption should be a priority. Especially when you consider the kind of data that can flow in and out of Tableau. And, Tableau makes it surprisingly easy to turn on TLS (or SSL, as they and so many others like me still call it). What they don’t make so easy is redirecting users over to an address that matches your cert. No big deal if your users have always accessed Tableau Server with the right alias, but until now, we only had an internal address that doesn’t match the cert we applied. The good news is Tableau Server uses Apache for its web server. With a pretty small tweak, you can redirect your users in no time.

Please note: this is not documented or supported by Tableau as far as I can tell. Be sure to test thoroughly before applying to your production environment. I also assume these settings will be overwritten by an update/upgrade, thus needing to be reapplied afterward (update: Having since gone through a few upgrades, I can confirm that these settings need to be reapplied afterward).

As I mentioned, Tableau Server uses Apache for its web server. An interesting choice since Tableau is only supported on Windows. This means a couple rewrite conditions/rules in httpd.conf will have you off and running. The first thing you need to know is where this file lives. It will be under Tableau’s data folder, which is located based on which drive Tableau was installed on. Tableau was installed on C: for us, which puts the httpd.conf file in C:\ProgramData\Tableau\Tableau Server\data\tabsvc\config (we will talk about moving your data folder to another drive in a later post). I am not entirely certain what the structure looks like if you installed on a separate drive, so you may need to do some digging.

Once you have located the httpd.conf file, the second thing you need to know is that this file is formatted for *nix line feeds and carriage returns. I.E: If you open it in Notepad, it will all be jumbled together. If you already have a tool like Notepad++ installed on the server, it should do nicely. In my case, I chose to copy the file to my local machine, edit it with Atom, and then push it back to the server. Just be sure to make a backup of the file first.

Ok, so you’ve found httpd.conf, you’ve made a backup, and opened it up in your favorite *nix-friendly text editor. If you scroll down to around line 581, you will start to see several RewriteCond and RewriteRule lines. Our rules don’t have to go here, but it seemed logical since there are already related rules in the vicinity. If you aren’t familiar with mod_rewrite rules, they basically look for certain conditions in an Apache request and rewrite/redirect (with a 301 by default) the URL sent to the server. Here is what I added after Tableau’s built-in list of rewrite rules:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^tableau\.mycompany\.net [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^localhost [NC]
RewriteRule (.*)$1 [R=301,L]

What does each line mean? The first line looks for requests containing a URL that doesn’t match the address we want people to use. Replace “” with your company’s preferred address for Tableau. Of course, make sure the record actually exists in DNS and points to your Tableau server.

The second line is an AND condition (by virtue of the previous line not ending in “[OR]”) and filters out requests using the “localhost” URL. The reason for this is that Tableau Web Data Connectors (WDC) published on the server will always be refreshed using http://localhost/webdataconnectors/yourWDCname.htm. And, as I found out, Tableau won’t follow the redirect when it tries to extract, but it will seemingly ignore the certificate/server name mismatch. Adding this line makes sure we don’t break any scheduled extracts using a WDC. Side note: it seems that in Tableau 10, you can maintain a list of approved WDC’s external to Tableau (aw yeah!), which I find preferable and would make this line unnecessary.

Now, the third line. This line takes the requests that haven’t been filtered out by the two previous conditions, and rewrites them to use our preferred address. Notice that here I have added the protocol (https://), whereas it is not needed for the conditions since we want to catch HTTP and HTTPS requests. The variables at the end will keep the rest of the URL as-is, so that something like becomes, rather than redirecting to Tableau’s landing page.

Once you have updated httpd.conf with the lines above, restart Tableau Server (tabadmin restart). Now, whenever someone tries the old address, they should be redirected to the new one. This all depends on the visitor or other clients following a 301 redirect, which is pretty standard. Still, be thorough in your testing to account for all conditions.

That’s it! A lot of talking for 3 lines of text.


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