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What's New in Tableau Prep

Browse summaries of new features for currently supported versions.

ClosedWhat's new in version 2018.3.2 What's new in version 2018.3.2

Clean and Shape Data


Improve data quality fast using cleaning recommendations

To help you find and fix problems with your data fast, Tableau Prep can now examine your data fields and suggest changes you can make to fix the problem. Tableau Prep examines your data fields and when a recommended change is identified, a light bulb icon appears on the Profile card for the field.

Click the light bulb icon to see the recommended changes, then hover over the recommendations card and click Apply to automatically apply them to the field. The change is recorded in the Changes pane and can be removed at any time.

In the example below Tableau Prep identified the field values as URL's and recommends applying a data role to the field to help identify values that aren't valid.

This feature is available in all step types except Input, Output and Join step types. In this release, recommendation types include:

  • Data roles
  • Filter
  • Replace invalid values with Null values
  • Remove fields
  • Trim spaces

For more information, see Apply cleaning operations using recommendations.

Other Enhancements


Added flexibility when running flows from the command line

When running flows from the command line, if you connect to databases or publish output files to a server, you need a credentials .json file that includes all required credentials. In past releases if you only connected to databases or published the flow output to a server, you would still need to include the empty array in the credentials .json file or the process would fail.

Now you no longer need to include the empty array in the credentials .json file. For example, if you only connect to databases you no longer need to include the outputConnection array in the .json file.

For more information about running flows from the command line, see Refresh output files from the command line.

Performance improvements

To help make working with your flows faster and more efficient, we've made the following enhancements:

  • Shutting down the product returns the memory space Tableau Prep was using right away.

  • If you receive an unexpected error you can now retry your action or process to keep you in the flow.

  • Improved performance when loading data or viewing data in a flow to reduce processing time.

  • If you connect to the following connectors, you can now use a search field to quickly find your schema:
    • Amazon EMR Hadoop Hive
    • Cloudera Hadoop
    • Hortonworks Hadoop Hive
    • MapR Hadoop Hive
    • Presto
    • Spark SQL
ClosedWhat's new in version 2018.3.1 What's new in version 2018.3.1

Install and Deploy Tableau Prep


Change your default repository location

By default, when you install Tableau Prep, the My Tableau Prep Repository is automatically installed in your Documents folder on your computer. But if you have restrictions about where you can store your flows and data sources, you can now move your My Tableau Repository to a different directory after Tableau Prep is installed.

To move your directory, open Tableau Prep, then from the top menu, select File > Repository Location. Select the folder where you want to move the repository.

For more information, see Change your My Tableau Prep Repository location in the Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Deployment Guide.

Connect to Data


Clean data stored in PDF files

Analyzing data stored in PDF files can be difficult to work with. Now you can connect directly to your PDF files and clean your data using Tableau Prep.

For more information about how to connect to your data in PDF files, see PDF file in the Tableau Desktop help.

Note: Data connectors are not backward compatible. Flows that include these connectors may open in a prior version of Tableau Prep, but will have errors or can't run unless the data connections are removed.

Wildcard union for database tables

If you work with database tables stored in a single data source you can now union your tables in the input step using a wildcard search. You can then include all of the data from the selected tables in the Input step using the same process that you use to union multiple files in the Input step.

To use this type of union, the tables must be in the same data source and you must connect to a data source that supports wildcard union.

The following data sources support this type of union:

  • Amazon Redshift

  • Microsoft SQL Server

  • MySQL

  • Oracle

  • PostgreSQL

For more information, see Use wildcard union for files and database tables.

Clean and Shape Data


Replace field values with Null

If you have data rows that you want to include in your analysis but you want to exclude certain field values you can change them to a Null value. Simply select the field values that you want to replace, then right-click (Ctrl+click on Mac) on the selected value and select Replace with Null from the menu.

For more information about replacing field values, see Cleaning (fixing) variations of the same value.

Apply cleaning operations in any step

Fixing problems in your flow just got more efficient. Now if you spot problems in your data as you join, union, pivot or aggregate, you can fix these problems directly in that step without having to add an additional cleaning step.

Since the order of operations matters, the cleaning operation is placed either before or after the join, union, pivot or aggregate and this information is tracked in the Changes pane for that step.

Annotations for the change are also added to the step in the Flow pane. For Input steps, annotations show to the left of the step and are added to the Input field list so you can easily see which field had changes applied. For all other step types, the annotations show above the step in the Flow pane.

Some cleaning operations must still be performed in a cleaning step and only some cleaning operations are available for Input and Output steps.  The table below lists the cleaning operations available for each step type:

  Input Clean Aggregate Pivot Join Union Output
Filter X X X X X X  
Group and Replace   X X X X X  
Clean   X X X X X  
Split Values   X X X X X  
Rename Field X X X X X X  
Edit Value   X X X X X  
Change Data Type X X X X X X  
Create Calculated Field   X X X X X  
Remove Field X X X X X X  

For more information, see Apply cleaning operations.

ClosedWhat's new in version 2018.2.3 What's new in version 2018.2.3

Connect to Data


Connect to data stored in MongoDB Business Intelligence (BI)

If you store your data in Mongo DB Business Intelligence, you can now connect to your data and clean it with Tableau Prep.

For more information about how to connect to your data using Mongo DB Business Intelligence, see MongoDB BI Connector in the Tableau Desktop help.

Note: Data connectors are not backward compatible. Flows that include these connectors may open in a prior version of Tableau Prep, but will have errors or can't run unless the data connections are removed.

Examine and Filter Your Data


Specify a data role for your field values

You can now assign a data role to your field values and use Tableau Prep to help you find inaccuracies or outliers in your data set.

Data roles tell Tableau Prep what the field values mean or represent, for example email addresses or a geographic role such as city or zip code. When a data role is assigned to a field, Tableau Prep examines the field values and flags the values that don't match so that you can take a closer look.

To view only the values that are valid or not valid, use the new filter option on the drop-down menu:

In this release we support the following data roles:

  • Email

  • URL

  • Geographic roles (Based on current geographic data and is the same data used by Tableau Desktop)

    • Airport
    • Area code (U.S.)
    • CBSA/MSA
    • City
    • Congressional District (U.S.)
    • Country/Region
    • County
    • NUTS Europe
    • State/Province
    • Zip code/Postal code

For more information see Assign data roles to your data.

Join or Union Data


Fix mismatched fields directly in the join clause

When you join two tables of data you will often have field values that are the same but are mismatched due to data entry errors. Tableau Prep helps identify mismatched fields in your join clauses by turning the mismatched field values red. But wouldn't it be great if you could just fix those field values right in your join clause? Well now you can.

Now when you join two data sets you can edit the field values that you join on, right in the join clause to fix them. Simply double-click in a field value to edit it.

Select field to change Edit in-line

The cleaning action is automatically pushed back to the previous cleaning step in the flow for the appropriate join data set.

No cleaning step before the join step? No problem. Tableau Prep automatically adds one for you to capture the cleaning operation from the join.

For information about how to clean field values directly in a join clause, see Join or Union Data.

ClosedWhat's new in version 2018.2.2 What's new in version 2018.2.2

Install and Deploy Tableau Prep


Set your display language

When you start up Tableau Prep, it now detects the locale set on your computer and displays the user interface, dates, and number formats in the appropriate language. If you want to change the display language for the user interface you can select from the supported languages from the top menu under Help > Choose Language.

For more information see Set your display language in the Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep deployment guide.

Connect to Data


Connect to data stored in Microsoft Access

If you use Microsoft Access for data entry or to store your data tables you can now connect to your access files (from version 2007 or higher) through a file browser and clean your data with Tableau Prep.

This connector requires a 64-bit driver.

For more information about how to connect Tableau Prep to your data, see Access in the Tableau Desktop help.

Note: Data connectors are not backward compatible. Flows that include these connectors may open in a prior version of Tableau Prep, but will have errors or can't run unless the data connections are removed.

Clean and Shape Data


Change the color scheme for your flow steps

By default, Tableau Prep assigns each step in your flow a color to help you easily track the changes you make to your data as you build your flow. But you have choices when it comes to this color scheme.

You can now pick from a color palette to change the color scheme for one or more steps. Just select the steps in the Flow pane that you want to change, right-click the selected steps and select Edit Step Color from the context menu.

Don't like how it looks? Click Undo from the top menu or select Reset Step Color from the color palette menu.

For more information, see Build your flow.

Add descriptions to your steps

If you share your flows with others, communicating the changes that you made and why can be cumbersome. To make it easier, you can now add a short description to any individual step in your flow and it displays right in the flow pane.

For more information about adding descriptions to flow steps, see Build your flow.

Use fuzzy match to find and fix spelling errors

To help you quickly identify and clean up multiple variations of the same value due to spelling errors, we've added another option to our fuzzy match cleaning feature. Use the new Spelling option to find and group text values that differ because of additional or missing letters. This option works in any supported language.

The Spelling option uses the Levenshtein distance algorithm to compute an edit distance between two text values and then groups them together when the edit distance is less than a default threshold value.

For more information, see Cleaning (fixing) variations of the same value.

Save and share your work


Run flows from the command line

To keep data fresh in Tableau Prep you run your flow. However, opening Tableau Prep every time you want to run flows can take time. To help streamline this process, you can now run flows from the command line without having to open it in Tableau Prep.

To run a flow from the command line, you'll need:

  • The path to the flow (.tfl) file that you want to run.

  • A .json file that contains the database credentials for any databases that the flow connects to for its input steps and the credentials for the server where the output is published.

    If your flow connects to or publishes to local files or files that are stored on a network share for inputs or outputs, then this file isn't needed.

    Note: Connecting to or publishing files that are stored on a network share that are password protected isn't supported.

  • Administrator permissions on the machine where you are running the flow.

This option is available on both Windows (Task Scheduler is supported) and Mac machines. To use this process, you need an activated version of Tableau Prep and the process must be run on the same machine where Prep is installed.

For information about how to run flows from the command line, see Refresh output files from the command line.

ClosedWhat's new in version 2018.2.1 What's new in version 2018.2.1

Install and Deploy Tableau Prep


Deactivate Tableau Prep from the command line

Like Tableau Desktop, if you no longer need Tableau Prep on your computer you can now deactivate it from the command line using the -return option.

For more information see Deactivate the product key. For more information about other installer properties that are available for Tableau Prep from the command line, see the Installer options and relevant sections in Deploy Tableau Desktop.

Use virtual desktop support to optimize Tableau Prep Installations

Just like Tableau Desktop you can now configure virtual desktop support to optimize your installations of Tableau Prep for non-persistent virtual desktops or for computers that are regularly reimaged. With virtual desktop support, Tableau Prep licenses are automatically deactivated after a predetermined period of time using a Tableau-hosted “Authorization to Run” (ATR) service, eliminating the need to manually deactivate the product key.

For more information about how to configure this option, see Configure Virtual Desktop Support in the Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep deployment guide.

Connect to Data


Connect to cloud data sources and Hadoop Hive

We've added support for the following connectors so that you can connect to cloud data and data stored in Hadoop.

  • Snowflake.

  • Amazon EMR Hadoop Hive

  • Cloudera Hadoop (Hive and Impala)

  • Hortonworks Hadoop Hive

  • MapR Hadoop Hive

  • Apache Drill

  • SparkSQL

For more information about how to connect Tableau Prep to your data, see the topic for your connector under Supported Connectors in the Tableau Desktop help.

These data connectors are not backward compatible. Flows that include these connectors may open in a prior version of Tableau Prep, but will have errors or can't run unless the data connections are removed.

Explore Your Data


New filter options to keep only the data you want

No more writing complex calculations to keep or exclude Null values or to set up a wildcard match on text values. Instead select one of the new filter options on a field to see the impact of your changes right away without having to first write a calculation and then revert your change if it doesn't give you the results you want.

For more information, see Filter values.

Clean and Shape Data


Use the ISO-8601 date standard in calculated fields

Creating calculated fields to support European calendars just got easier. Tableau Prep now supports the ISO-8601 international date standard for the following date parts:

  • "iso-year"

  • "iso-quarter"

  • "iso-week"

  • "iso-weekday"

Use these date parts in functions DATEPART, DATETRUNC, DATENAME, DATEDIFF, and DATEADD.

For example Week Number = STR(DATEPART('iso-year', [Week Date])) + "-" + STR(DATEPART('iso-week', [Week Date]))

For more information about how to work with date functions in calculated fields, see Date Functions in the Tableau Desktop help.

Apply cleaning operations in the data grid

In prior versions, the data grid showed you a preview of your data, but had few cleaning options available. Now you can act on your data anywhere. If you want to work with the detailed values in the data grid, collapse the Profile pane and perform the same cleaning operations that are available in the Profile pane in the data grid.

For more information, see Clean and Shape Data.

Use multi-select to group values in the Profile pane

To quickly group a set of values for a field, you can now multi-select the values in the Profile card, then right-click to open the menu and select Group. The values are grouped under the field value that you select when you right-click to open the menu. A paperclip icon shows next to the grouped value.

Right-click the grouped values to open the menu again to ungroup or edit the values.

For more information about grouping values, see Cleaning (fixing) variations of the same value

Other enhancements

We've also made the following enhancements to improve usability:

  • New icons show on the menu when adding steps to your flow to provide visual cues and help you learn the visual language of Tableau Prep.

  • New animations in the Profile pane help catch your eye to better see the impact of your changes.

     

Join or Union Data


Use union recommendations to clean mismatched fields

Fixing mismatched fields after unioning two or more files just got easier. A new Mismatched Fields section in the Union summary pane shows a list of fields that don't match and the data source where they originated. Merge your mismatched fields directly in this section using one of the following options:

  • Select a field in the list. If Tableau Prep identifies a field with similar characteristics, based on similar data types and field names, it highlights the field in yellow, suggesting a match. Click the plus button that appears on hover on the suggested matched field to merge the two fields.

  • Select two or more fields in the list, right-click on one of them and select Merge Fields.

    For more information about unioning data and resolving mismatched fields, see Union your data.

Identify mismatched fields for all join types

Easily identify fields that don't match no matter how you join tables. In prior versions the Join Clauses tables showed field values that were excluded only when one field equaled another. But now you can see this data using any operator when matching join clauses, such as "End Date >= Modified Date".

For more information, see Join your data.

ClosedWhat's new in version 2018.1.2 What's new in version 2018.1.2

Install and Deploy Tableau Prep


Activate and register Tableau Prep from the command line (Windows)

Like Tableau Desktop, you can now activate and register Tableau Prep from the command line by including a command line with the following properties:

  • ACTIVATE_KEY="<key>". The installer runs -activate to apply the license key.

  • REGISTER=“1”. During the installation process, the installer will run the -register process and add the registration information.

For more information about these installer properties and how to activate and register Tableau Prep from the command line, see the Installer options and relevant sections in Deploy Tableau Desktop.

Connect to Data


Connect to data stored in statistical files or on Presto

We've added two new connectors to help you connect to data from more locations.

  • Statistical files. Connect to to SAS (*.sas7bdat), SPSS (*.sav), and R (*.rdata) data files.

  • Presto. For more information about how to configure your connection to Presto, see Presto in the Tableau Desktop help.

These data connectors are not backward compatible. Flows that include these connectors will open in a prior version of Tableau Prep, but will have errors or can't run unless the data connections are removed.

Union sub-tables found by Data Interpreter in the Input step

Using Data Interpreter to clean your Microsoft Excel data and now you want to union the resulting sub-tables? You can now use wildcard union to union all of the found sub-tables in the Input step.

Simply drag one of your sub-tables to the Flow pane, and then use the wildcard search criteria to select the remaining sub-tables to union the data and include all the sub-table data in the Input step.

For more information see Use wildcard union for files and database tables.

Better feedback when loading tables

When you connect to a database for the first time, it can sometimes seem like nothing happened. Now a new indicator tells you that the data is still loading.

Explore Your Data


Reorder fields in the Profile pane and the Data grid

You can now drag and drop to reorder your fields in both the Profile pane and the Data grid and the two panes will stay in sync. We also maintain the field order even when you rename a field. Fields are no longer reordered automatically.

Clean and Shape Data


Use drag-select to remove multiple steps in your flow

Removing whole sections of your flow just got easier. You can now click in the Flow pane and use your mouse to drag and select the section of the flow that you want to remove. Then right-click to remove all of the selected steps at once. For more information see Build your flow.

Pivot multiple groups of fields in a single action

The pivot option in Tableau Prep has been expanded to better support more complex spreadsheets or text files. You can now perform either a single pivot or select groups of fields to pivot.

For example to pivot a spreadsheet to see sales, tax, and totals by month and year you can pivot each group of fields to get the results you want. For more information, see Pivot your data.

Original Spreadsheet After pivoting on multiple groups of fields

Improved field naming when merging fields

When you merge fields, the field names are no longer concatenated. Instead the field name of the target field persists. For more information, see Merge fields.

Concatenated field naming Simplified field naming

Other enhancements

We've also made the following enhancements to improve usability and performance:

  • A new edit icon shows on hover on entries in the Changes pane to help you quickly see which items are editable.

  • Renaming a step will no longer automatically run the flow so your authoring experience is seamless.

  • The Connections pane automatically opens when you connect to a Microsoft Excel file with multiple sheets to help you quickly get to your data.