Google Data Studio: got problems with MySQL? Take good care of your time zones.

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We love tools. We love data visualization. We strongly believe that data visualization should not be expensive, so we’ve wondered whether Google Data Studio could be, at some point, one of the leaders in the market such as Qlik, Tableau or PowerBI.

We are vey aware that Google Data Studio is not there yet when it comes to the features the top tools have, but we want to share some of the experiences we have found so far. Today, concretely, we want to highlight an issue with the time zones when a connection to a MySQL database is required.

Google Data Studio allows to use many data sources

This is obvious. For some months now, Google Data Studio allows to use several data sources for reporting, and they are continuously adding more. At the moment when can bring data (when will be able to cross it efficiently?) from MySQL, plain files, Google Analytics, Big Query, etc:

Right now we miss sources such as SalesForce (or SugarCRM), Oracle, Facebook, MailChimp, among others. Time to time, as we can imagine that Google’s developers have them in their roadmap.

We started to experience issues with the MySQL connector

Some weeks ago we built a report that used as data source a MySQL data base (actually it was a DWH that was integrating data from many sources – we insist, again, on the topic of being able to integrate data in the same interface). Everything was perfect until we found an error message when we tried to refresh the report or edit the connection parameters:

It must be said that the error message was pretty useless. Searching in the forums and boards we realized that we were not the only ones experiencing issues with Google Data Studio’s MySQL connector. We were starting to get dissappointed when, some hours later (maybe it was a bug) when we refreshed the report we obtained a much more concrete message. Nevertheless it was highly puzzling:

Wow! Houston, we got a problem with the time zone: CEST time zone is not recognized! We kindly ask Google Data Studio developers some support to avoid the fact of having the server time being modified, because we were not able to solve the issue by modifying the URL in the JDBC call: the only way to overcome the situation was to change the server time, to UTC in this case, and, voilà, we were able to reestablish the connection without further issues:

Since that moment we experienced no further problems when refreshing the report, even if the table feeding it gets larger and larger every day (of course, we make sure the tables are properly indexed – some day we will test the performance of Google Data Studio when connecting to MySQL tables not having their indexes in place).

Summary: a better support is needed

Google solved this issue last May 18th. Between May 12th and May 18th it was necessary to use the mentioned workaround if you wanted to use your MySQL tables as source in Google Data Studio. Of course, there are companies and situations that can’t allow to be such time without data. For such urgent issues, Google must enable a support system enabling them to solve important issues the same day.

 

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