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Tableau via PowerShell, Part 1: Opening Workbooks

In this mini-series I’m going to show you some cookbook style examples for using PowerShell to explore your Tableau workbooks. Follow along, this is going to be fun!

Tableau workbooks (TWB files) are just XML files. Packaged workbooks (TWBX files) are just ZIP files that contain a TWB and various assets, like data extracts for example.

This is wonderful because it means it is very easy to go spelunking through workbook files without a guide.

Opening Workbooks

I mentioned that TWB files are just XML files and that TWBX files are ZIP files that contain a TWB. This means we need different logic for opening a TWB vs a TWBX. Let’s write a simple little PowerShell function to fix that. We’ll call this function Get-TableauWorkbookXml and it will take a file path and return the workbook’s XML. It will abstract away the different ahandling of TWB and TWBX files for us.

If you find this helpful then check out TableauKit; a full on PowerShell module for working with Tableau files. It contains a new and improved version of the function below and much more.

function Get-TableauWorkbookXml {
    Gets the workbook XML from a specified TWB or TWBX file.

    The literal file path of the TWB or TWBX file.

    Author: Joshua Poehls ({{site.url}})
        [Parameter(Mandatory=$true, ValueFromPipeline=$true)]

    begin {
        $originalCurrentDirectory = [System.Environment]::CurrentDirectory

        # System.IO.Compression.FileSystem requires at least .NET 4.5
        [System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName("System.IO.Compression") | Out-Null

    process {
        [System.Environment]::CurrentDirectory = (Get-Location).Path
        $extension = [System.IO.Path]::GetExtension($Path)
        if ($extension -eq ".twb") {
            return [xml](Get-Content -LiteralPath $Path)
        elseif ($extension -eq ".twbx") {
            $archiveStream = $null
            $archive = $null
            $reader = $null

            try {
                $archiveStream = New-Object System.IO.FileStream($Path, [System.IO.FileMode]::Open)
                $archive = New-Object System.IO.Compression.ZipArchive($archiveStream)
                $twbEntry = ($archive.Entries | Where-Object { $_.FullName -eq $_.Name -and [System.IO.Path]::GetExtension($_.Name) -eq ".twb" })[0]
                $reader = New-Object System.IO.StreamReader $twbEntry.Open()

                [xml]$xml = $reader.ReadToEnd()
                return $xml
            finally {
                if ($reader -ne $null) {
                if ($archive -ne $null) {
                if ($archiveStream -ne $null) {
        else {
            throw "Unknown file type. Expected a TWB or TWBX file extension."

    end {
        [System.Environment]::CurrentDirectory = $originalCurrentDirectory

Let’s try it out from PowerShell.

Get-TableauWorkbookXml .\MyWorkbook.twb

TWBX files are just as easy.

Get-TableauWorkbookXml .\MyPackagedWorkbook.twbx

Cool, right? How about opening a bunch of workbooks at once? This is PowerShell after all.

Get-ChildItem *.twb* | Get-TableauWorkbookXml

Continue the adventure with Part 2: Saving Changes.