Alation 2022.4: Alation Anywhere for Slack and Tableau

By Jason Lim

Published on November 30, 2022

Birdseye view shot of a corporate meeting taking place as someone handshakes another person's hand indicating a partnership.

Modern data users face an explosion of data sources and tools – and working across a broad range of tools presents unique challenges. It’s tough to keep track of what data is available, and even harder to know what that data means or how to use it. Solving this problem requires a unified, universally accessible single source of reference.

Alation is the leading platform for data intelligence, delivering critical context about data to empower smarter use; to this end, it centralizes technical, operational, business, and behavioral metadata from a broad variety of sources. Many of these sources include modern data stack tools, including Fivetran and dbt for ELT, Snowflake for cloud data warehousing, and Databricks for lakehouse.

However, in order to disseminate intelligence about data, we need to meet users where they are, in the tools where they work. That is why we continue to develop Alation Anywhere, a way to surface rich contextual information like business term definitions and database table previews from Alation to a suite of third-party tools. By delivering this critical context to the tools where it is most useful, Alation Anywhere reduces friction, speeds up time to insight, and empowers all data users to simply get work done faster.

Alation Anywhere for Slack

In 2022.4, Alation Anywhere will expand to the chat app Slack. With this integration, rich contextual information about data from Alation will be surfaced via previews in Slack. Data teams can preview helpful metadata at a glance and navigate to the object in Alation to get more information. This could be anything from a business glossary term, to a table in a database, or a SQL query someone has published and described.

As an example, let’s pretend a new salesperson is on the way to meet a new prospect in the telecommunications industry. To elevate her pitch, she wants to reference all the existing telecommunications customers her company serves. Within Slack, she searches for an Alation SQL query about customers by industry. Immediately, she finds a relevant query and is able to preview the SQL code and see it was created and endorsed by a trusted colleague recently. This integration helped her find the information herself quickly and have confidence in its correctness, to uplevel her sales pitch.

Users can also watch or save Alation objects directly from Slack. Imagine two data analysts are discussing a database table in Slack. One analyst performs a search in Slack, then the table appears, allowing for it to be favorited or followed — without needing to go into Alation. This makes it easy and convenient to subscribe to data, where communication happens.

Later, in 2023, we will be extending these features even further. Updates will include the ability to synchronize conversations in Slack back to Alation, notification of object changes, and the ability to be alerted about – and take action on – workflow requests.

Alation Anywhere for Tableau

In our last release, 2022.3, Alation announced the beta launch of Alation Anywhere for Tableau. We are happy to share that it is generally available in our 2022.4 release.

To recap that integration, Alation descriptions and data quality flags of warnings and deprecations now propagate to Tableau. This gives people understanding and confidence as they explore and use Tableau, in their natural workflow. With this context, Tableau users can assess reports to determine their quality and trustworthiness.

With the release of 2022.4, Alation has further improved our Tableau connector. Now, Tableau users can see metadata from the data catalog within Tableau, including subject matter experts and details on data sources. This not only enhances collaboration, it builds trust in data, as users can understand the full lineage and context of the data powering their dashboards.

In Conclusion

Alation Data Catalog centralizes metadata and rich context of data. With Alation Anywhere, that context extends beyond the catalog, directly into the tools our users know and love. This helps organizations foster a stronger data culture by increasing visibility and trust of data across disparate tools and encouraging adoption of Alation, by promoting its value in the natural flow of work.

Curious to learn more?

  • Alation Anywhere for Slack
  • Alation Anywhere for Tableau
  • In Conclusion
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