Tableau Prep is a data preparation tool which aims to automate the cleaning process to help you shape your data in a visual manner. Tableau Prep is a self-service tool that makes it easier for any analyst to create simple flows and reuse it. This blog explains the features of Tableau Prep with a simple flow.

Tableau Prep Builder Features
Flow

Connect and extract data

You will be able to connect to the following data sources and extract the data. Apart from these, you have the option to connect to other ODBC and JDBC connections using the relevant URL and credentials.

Apart from this, you can also bring the already published data from the Tableau Server to create a flow.

Tableau Prep Builder Features

Clean the Data

This is the main step that helps you to cleanse your data based on the requirement. In the example, the clean step in used to Filter, Replace values with Null values. Tableau Prep also has an option to do Cleaning operations using recommendations.

Recommendation types include:

  • Data roles
  • Group and Replace (also applies to fields with data roles starting in version 2019.2.3)
  • Filter
  • Replace values with Null values
  • Remove fields
  • Split (version 2019.1.1 and later)
Tableau Prep Builder Features
Cleaning Step

Group and Replace

Group uses Fuzzy Match to group values based on the following

  • Pronunciation: Using Tableau Prep’s “group by pronunciation,” anything that would sound the same gets rolled into a single category. For example, Williams and Williems would be grouped together.
  • Common Characters: What about the entries “Bieber, Justin” vs “Justin Bieber”. Thanks to Prep’s “Group – Common Characters” feature, we can combine these into a single entity. Again, this would be extremely difficult to achieve with formulas – even Tableau’s powerful Regular Expression formulas wouldn’t provide an easy solution to this.
  • Pronunciation + Spelling: (version 2019.1.4 and later) – You can assign your data role and use it to match and group the values, this will group the invalid values based on the spelling and pronunciation.

Tableau Prep Builder adds it automatically and marks the value as not in the original data set. This option is most suitable for English words.

Tableau Prep Builder Features
Group and Replace

Filtering

Tableau Prep Builder provides various options that you can use to filter your data. For example, use Keep Only or Exclude to do one-click filtering on a specific value for a field in a profile card, data grid or results in a card, or select from a variety of filter options for more complex filtering needs. You can also keep or remove entire fields.

Filters available for each data type:

Data typeAvailable filters
StringCalculation, Wildcard Match, Null Values, Selected Values
NumberCalculation, Range of Values, Null Values, Selected Values
Date and Date & TimeCalculation, Range of Dates, Relative Date, Null Values, Selected Values

Tableau Prep Builder Features
Filtering

Pivoting Data

Sometimes it’s difficult to analyze data in the crosstab format i.e. having dimensions both on the rows and columns.

Use one of the following options when pivoting your data:

  • Pivot columns to rows
  • Use wildcard search to instantly pivot fields based on a pattern match (Tableau Prep Builder version 2019.1.1 and later).
  • Pivot rows to columns (Tableau Prep Builder version 2019.1.1 and later)
Tableau Prep Builder Features
Pivot

Aggregation

There would be scenarios where you will need to adjust the granularity of data – either to reduce the amount of data produced from the flow or to align data with other data you might want to join or union together. Consider a scenario where you have a part of your data at the product level and you want to view sales at the customer level. You can aggregate the data at the product level to customer level and then join it with another table with customer information.

Tableau Prep Builder Features
Aggregation

Intermediate Data preview in Tableau Desktop

You will be able to check how your data is in the Tableau Desktop at any point of the flow.

Tableau Prep Builder Features
Intermediate View

Create reusable flow steps (version 2019.3.2 and later)

You can save a part of the flow steps and reuse it. This feature is available from 2019.3.2 version.

Tableau Prep Builder Features
Reusable steps

Use R and Python scripts in your flow

Starting in version 2019.3.1 you can use R and Python scripts. You can let your actual R and Python scripts run in your flows and the results of these scripts will be saved to your output. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on using Tableau Prep with scripts.

Tableau Prep Builder Features
Use R and Python

Enhance data

You can enhance the data by adding Union, join and Calculated fields.

Tableau Prep has resolved certain limitations of Tableau Desktop pertaining to the order in which operations can be done. For instance, if a field is split, it cannot be reshaped (pivoted) afterwards in Tableau Desktop, whereas Tableau Prep does not have this limitation. In Tableau Prep, multiple sources can be reshaped, then joined, consumed in a union and again joined.

Flow Navigator (version 2019.3.2 and later)

When you have large flows, you can easily navigate with Flow Navigator available at the right bottom corner of the flow pane.

Save your flow

As you can see above, steps taken to transform the data are visually depicted in the flow and put into one self-explanatory flow. You can also click on any of the steps to see what the data looks like at any given stage of transformation in the Tableau Desktop. These steps can then be shared and run as a “flow,” which can be published as a Hyper, TDE or saved to a file.

Keep your Data Fresh

Tableau Prep Conductor enables data preparation at scale by centralizing the administration, scheduling, and monitoring of data prep flows within an integrated platform. Flows created in Tableau Prep Builder (an updated name for Tableau Prep) are published to Prep Conductor to run in a reliable and scalable environment.

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog series on Tableau Prep Conductor. To learn more about Visual BI’s Tableau Consulting & End User Training Programs, contact us here.


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