Tableau Prep – A new era

Last week, Tableau announced the introduction of Tableau Prep, a new data preparation tool that bridges the gap that existed in Tableau visualization. It enables users to combine, shape and clean their data before loading it into Tableau to make custom dashboards for analysis.

Similar to some of the other ETL tools in the market, Tableau Prep encourages a drag-and-drop approach, with algorithms to automate some of the common challenges. You can make a workflow under minutes – and it beautifully integrates to your Tableau Desktop for immediate insights.

If you haven’t already used Tableau Prep, you better get on it because it is super intuitive! Keeping in mind Tableau’s minimalistic and user-friendly approach, Tableau Prep brings you a simple and clean interface that already has a familiar feel to it. Have a look at the interface below in an example that uses Facebook Insight’s Post extracts to transform and combine data for our social media scorecards.

Clicking on an element brings up a secondary pane that gives more information on the step and allows the user to customize the step.

Live Preview

One of the features of Tableau prep is that you can see your data transformation in action immediately before running the workflow. Each step in the workflow will immediately show you the results – so that you can validate your process on the fly.

Another great feature is the visual representation of your data in the Profile pane. This makes it easy for you to distinctly look at data at the record level. Clicking on a data point will highlight other associated fields in the other columns to give you an idea about the data connection made.

Quick Transformation

The transformation steps are extensive and very quick to give results. You can easily change data types, trim spaces, change cases of string fields, group values, pivot data and also perform calculations. These calculations follow the language we use for calculated fields in Tableau Desktop – so it’s pretty easy and familiar.

One of the new WOW features that Tableau Prep provides is their fuzzy matching of similar fields. Tableau Prep uses a phonetic algorithm to index words using their pronunciation. This is extremely helpful in combining several common names in a column that are listed separately due to a spelling issue or non-standarized naming.

Data Connectors

There isn’t a wide pool of data connectors on Tableau Prep yet, but we can trust that they will regularly update and add new connectors in their next versions. Here’s a list of the current available connectors.

Tableau’s new subscription model

In addition to Tableau Prep, Tableau has announced new subscription packages that accommodate everyone. It is appropriate for everyone across an organization and allows it’s users to now get a better value for their money.

Tableau Creator – gives full analytic capabilities to analysts. This is an end-to-end deal that allows users to get access to Tableau Prep (for data preparation), Tableau Desktop (for data visualization and analysis) and Tableau Server/Online to publish their reports on the cloud.

Current Tableau Desktop subscribers can use Tableau Prep at no extra charge until 2020, after which they would have to move on to the new subscription package.

Tableau Explorer/Viewer – You can now pay for exactly what you want from your Tableau subscription. Up until recently, Tableau licenses came with users that you had to pay full price for even if some of the users were to be given a viewer access. With Tableau’s new subscription, you can pay for a user individually based on the role you’d like to assign to them.

Takeaways

Overall, Tableau Prep is a game changing product for users that have struggled to transform and prepare data for Tableau. We are confident that over time, Tableau Prep will grow and accommodate much more than they already are. Some of the things we are hoping to see in the future versions are:

  • Scheduling – We all know how important this is in automating workflows. Scheduling the Tableau Prep workflows will help users in end-to-end automation.
  • Data Connectors – Definitely expecting more connectors to allow users to connect to more data sources seamlessly
  • Custom API connection
  • A custom SQL option to add to the workflow

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