Connect to data and view it on a dashboard


1. Overview

This walkthrough shows you how to add a new connection to a data source and use it to display some data on a dashboard.

A SQL Server/Azure SQL database is used for example purposes, but you can follow these steps for any data source.

2. Connecting to data

If you are accessing data live from a database or online data source, you generally need to have some knowledge about the type of data source as well as the necessary permissions to connect.

In Dundas BI, you also need to be a user with at least power user access to create a data connector.

2.1. Create a new data connector

A data connector lets you connect to a data source by choosing a data provider and setting various fields that are specific to that provider.

You can create a data connector from anywhere in Dundas BI using the main menu on the left by clicking New, then Data Connector. You can also find this option in a few other places.

Create a new data connector
Create a new data connector

The new data connector dialog is scrollable with a number of fields to set depending on the type of data provider you want to use.

New data connector dialog
New data connector dialog

2.2. Choose a name and folder location

Your new data connector will need a name – click inside the Name box to open a dialog where you can enter one.

You can optionally click to select a specific subfolder Location under the Data Connectors folder. To create a subfolder, right-click (or long-tap) an existing folder and choose Create Folder.

Save dialog
Save dialog

2.3. Select a data provider

You can connect to a wide range of data source types with Dundas BI. The Data Provider dropdown is set to Microsoft SQL Server by default, which is also used for connecting to Azure SQL and Azure Synapse.

Data provider choices
Data provider choices

Depending on the data provider selected, the remaining fields may be different.

Your administrator may need to install drivers on the Dundas BI server for certain data providers. For more information about supported data sources and their driver requirements, see Dundas BI - System Requirements.

2.4. Settings

Each data provider has its own settings for you to fill in. Hover over the field (long-tap on touch devices) for a tooltip popup providing a description. There may also be additional details available for certain data sources in the How To article subsection.

Settings for SQL Server
Settings for SQL Server

Some data providers offer more than one authentication method you can choose from, such as:

  • Server Windows credentials
  • Provider-specific options such as SQL Server authentication
  • Specified Windows credentials
  • Impersonated Windows credentials
  • Active Directory credentials, for use with Azure

Fill in the requested credentials if required.

When connecting to a database such as our Microsoft SQL Server example, the following settings or similar are typical:

  • Data Source – The name of your database instance or database server (e.g., often this is just the server name), or its network/internet address.
  • Initial Catalog – The database name.

There are typically other optional or advanced settings you can configure. Click through the expandable sections to access other settings, and hover over with your mouse or long-tap a field to see its tooltip description.

2.5. Test the connection

Once you have set the required data connector fields, click Test connection as a quick way of verifying the settings you just entered.

Test connection
Test connection

2.6. Save

At the bottom of the dialog, the Check In option is checked by default to share the data connector with other users with access to the current project as soon as it's created.

Submit button
Submit button

Finally, click to Save at the bottom. A message will tell you the data connector was created and that a discovery operation was started – this process automatically finds and lists all the tables, stored procedures, and other available data 'structures' for you to work with, and it runs in the background so you don't need to wait for it.

Discovery notification in bottom-right corner
Discovery notification in bottom-right corner

Stored Procedures that don't output a value are not supported.

If you want to make changes to the data connector, you can re-open it from the main menu.

3. Viewing data

Now that you have a data connector providing access to a data source, you can display some data using a metric set or dashboard, for example. The quick walkthrough below shows a dashboard.

3.1. Create a new dashboard

Use the main menu to create a new dashboard. Choose Blank to drag and drop content anywhere on the dashboard, or you can choose another template.

Create a new dashboard
Create a new dashboard

The dashboard editor is displayed, with most of the screen taken up by a canvas where you can drag and drop items to compose your dashboard.

Dashboard Designer screen
Dashboard Designer screen

3.2. Find your data connector

Click on the Explore window, usually docked on the right, to expand it if it isn't already. It lists all the items within the current project.

Expand the Data Connectors folder to see your data connector, then further expand the data connector itself to see the data structures discovered, including database tables and programmatic structures such as stored procedures and functions.

A data connector's data structures
A data connector's data structures

If the structures or their columns have changed since they were last discovered, you can right-click/long-tap the data connector (or a sub-folder in Dundas BI 10 and higher) and choose Re-Discover.

3.3. Drag a table of data to the canvas

Under your data connector, scroll down and locate a specific table or sheet of data you want to see. Expand the table and drag individual columns you are interested in, or drag the entire table to preview all of its raw data.

Drag database table to canvas
Drag database table to canvas

Dundas BI connects live to data sources by default (other than data that has been imported such as a dropped Excel file).

Dragging data automatically creates a metric set you can use to analyze it. Initially it's visualized as a table, but you can Re-Visualize from the toolbar or allow Dundas BI to change the visualization automatically as you drag or add more data.

3.4. View the dashboard

Click View in the toolbar to switch to View mode. This lets you interact with your dashboard, such as using the scrollbars on the table visualization. Click Edit in the toolbar to go back to Edit mode.

Database table in view mode
Database table in view mode

4. See also

Dundas Data Visualization, Inc.
400-15 Gervais Drive
Toronto, ON, Canada
M3C 1Y8

North America: 1.800.463.1492
International: 1.416.467.5100

Dundas Support Hours:
Phone: 9am-6pm, ET, Mon-Fri
Email: 7am-6pm, ET, Mon-Fri