Using Web-Based Images in Tableau

When building a Tableau workbook, it’s not uncommon to want to embed some web-based images into the workbook itself. Tableau has added some new features recently which make this a lot easier, but there are still some limitations. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have little choice but to use a web object. But, unfortunately, this often doesn’t work when published to the web. To help address some of these problems, I’ve developed a handful of basic HTML scripts to simplify embedding of web-based images. In this blog, I’m going to share some of the built-in methods for embedding web-based images, as well as some of my utilities and how they help to address specific use cases.


For these examples, I’m going to be using an image of Utrecht, Netherlands posted on Imgur, one of the leading image hosting services. The original was posted on utrechtalive’s Instagram account. We need to first get the URL of the image. The main URL is but this takes us to the page with menus, comments, etc. We just want the raw image itself. To get this, we can right-click the image and open it in a new tab. From there, we can grab the image’s URL itself,


Image Object

Let’s start by using an image object. Starting in 2021.2, we now have the ability to specify a URL in a web object as opposed to uploading an image from our computer (see the following video from Tableau Tim for more on this: Add images with a web URL)



The result looks like this:



One problem is that the image gets cropped. In the full image, the canal is in the center, so the image object is removing the right side to make it fit in the container. We can fix this by selecting the “Fit Image” option in the Image object.



When we do this, Tableau will automatically resize the image to fit the container and it will respect the image’s aspect ratio. In most cases, this is exactly what you want. But there are a couple of potential limitations:


1) You don’t want to respect the aspect ratio. There are some cases where you might want to stretch an image to fit the container or you might want to specify an exact height and width.


2) You need the URL to be dynamic. With an image object, the URL is static—you specify it once when you build the workbook and it cannot be changed based on data, user interaction, etc.


If either of the above are true, then an image object won’t work.


Web Object

If you need something more dynamic, then you have a couple of options. One of these is the new Image Role capability. I’ll address that shortly, but historically your only option was to use a web object. The beauty of web objects is that they can be dynamically updated using data and user interactions.


So let’s add a web object to our a dashboard then specify the image URL. When we do this, it looks pretty good on Desktop:



But, when you publish to the web, you see this:



Tableau’s web object uses a simple iFrame to embed content and many websites, including Imgur, do not allow their content to be embedded via iFrames. So, this won’t work, unfortunately.


Simple Image Utility

To address this, I’ve written a simple HTML utility that leverages Javascript to load the image. I’ve hosted these utilities on The scripts are also available on Github so feel free to take them and host them on your own website. We start with a very simple utility that loads the image without any resizing. The utility URL is and it has a single parameter, imageurl. So to load our Imgur image, we’d use the following URL:


Using this utility, it displays on the web!



But this is not perfect as it creates scroll bars to show the full image. There may be times when you want this, but in most cases, you probably want to do some sort of resizing to fit the image in the container.


Image Resize Utility

If you wish to resize your image, then you can use the resize utility. The



Parameters: imageurl, height, width



When we use this, the image is resized based on the height and width specified



It’s important to note that we are forcing these specific dimensions, meaning that it will not respect the aspect ratio of the image. For example, let’s use the following dimensions instead:



The image is now stretched. In some cases, this may be exactly what you want. But in other cases, you might want to specify the width and height of the container, then force the image to resize to fit, while also respecting the aspect ratio.


Image Fit Utility

To respect the aspect ratio, you can you my fit utility.



Parameters: imageurl, height, width



For this one, the height and width refer to the container, not the image itself (Note: in Tableau, you’ll need to subtract 20 or so pixels from the dimensions of the web object as some padding gets automatically added for some reason. If you don’t, you’ll end up with scrollbars.)



Or we could use the same dimensions as the last example,



We can now see that the image is resized in a manner that respects the aspect ratio.


Image Role

I started writing this blog before Tableau 2022.4 introduced the Image Role functionality and I’ll be honest that much of what I’ve shared above can be done using this new feature. But there are a couple of minor limitations.


To use the feature, we need a dimension in our data set that contains an Image URL. We then turn on “Image Role” for that field and drag it to our view. In my data, I only have a single URL so I see only one row.



After resizing, turning off the headers, hiding the “Abc” mark (to learn how to do this, see The ABCs of Removing ABCs in Tableau Text Tables by Jeffrey Shaffer), and turning off all lines, we have this:



When published to the web, it looks great!



There are, however, a couple of limitations and weird issues I’ve encountered.


1) PlaceholderIn Desktop, it just has an image placeholder. I’m not sure if that’s the case with all images or just something with the one I’m using here, but it’s a bit odd to not be able to see the preview.


2) Scrollbars – In some cases, we get horizontal scrollbars on the web as shown here. I’m not entirely sure what’s causing this or how to fix it.



3) Clickable – This image is part of a table, so it’s clickable. When you click it, you’ll get that strange blue highlight. So, if we just want to display this single image, then we end up having to float a blank over it, which is just another step.



4) New Sheet – Building a separate sheet just feels like a lot of work for displaying a single image.


Of course, if you need to display multiple images at once, based on data in your data set, then this is, without a doubt, the best way to do it. It’s almost impossible to do otherwise.



OK, so there are a handful of different methods for using web-based images in your Tableau workbook. While this has gotten much easier with recently-added features, there are still scenarios where those options don’t quite meet the need. In those cases, I’m hopeful that some of my utilities will prove useful. If you’d like to interact with the example workbook used in this blog, you can find it here: Web-Based Images


Keep an eye out for a future blog where I’ll share some additional utilities for embedding other types of web-based content in Tableau.


Ken Flerlage, February 6, 2023

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