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Introduction to Tableau Prep

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Introduction to Tableau Prep

Tableau Prep is a new product by Tableau helping users quickly and confidently combine, shape and clean data for analysis. Introduced in the year 2018, Tableau prep is quickly gaining usage among Tableau users, largely because;

  • Every active Tableau Desktop license holder at the time of launch, received a Tableau Prep license for free – currently Tableau creator license (Tableau Desktop & Tableau Prep).

  • Similar to Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep has a very intuitive visual interface for preparing and shaping data.

  • The tool is easy to learn and use.

  • The tool has value for time and money.

These are some of greatest adoption drivers according to me, but at a personal level, my biggest attraction to this tool is saving time and accuracy. I have to admit, before this tool, data preparation was very tedious, you could prep data, and every time a new data came in you had to undergo the same process getting the data clean, and to make matter even worse, this process was not transparent as I would expect – you could not quickly track and trace any mistakes occurring while preparing data.

So, what changed because of this tool?

Three things happened.

  • Data preparation became easy for me.

  • All data preparation happened on my sight – meaning I could trace and track mistakes that were happening while preparing data.

  • Re-use of data flows, meaning in the future I don’t need to create a new flow, rather I use an existing one to quickly prepare my data.

Therefore, these are some of ground breaking solutions for me. But what are some of new goodies under the hood that you may need to know as a data enthusiast?

Ability to quickly combine data

Data analysis is a broad subject, and every project has different needs which are specific to the objectives. Some of these objectives require one or several data sources to be fully answered. Therefore, as a data analysts’ ability to quickly and accurately combine different data sources can be helpful here.

With Tableau Prep, combining data using Joins or Unions becomes even more simplified, using a drag and drop interface and guided by lots of visual cues, you can easily combine data for your analysis.

Ability to quickly shape data

To answer project objectives, data must be in the right shape. This could be a simple as changing wide data tables to short and tall – through pivoting. Hence, improving usability and query processing.

With Tableau Prep, performing this powerful feature is as simple as dragging the target fields right into a canvas named – drop fields here to pivot them, and Tableau Prep does all the other magic.

How cool is that?

Ability to quickly clean data

Its true we may be able to combine data and even shape it, but if we can’t clean it, then trust gets a punch here. To build trust of the data, we need to clean it. This could be a simple as;

  • Combining related fields

  • Trimming spaces

  • Removing numbers, letters or punctuation's

  • Changing fields from Uppercase to Lowercase and vice versa

  • Splitting fields

  • Renaming fields and so on

Being able to confidently perform this is a plus to your project. And this tool simplifies it.

Bonus point

No one wants to consume a dashboard that takes hours to load or process a query. To increase your query processing, your database must be fast. And even better very fast. Using Tableau Prep enables you as a data analyst to package your data as a Tableau data extract (.hyper) which 5X faster in query processing. This will help you keep your dashboard users engaged and not bored by slow queries.

I hope this article was helpful to you. To receive more of the Tableau tips and tricks for data preparation/visualization, kindly join our mailing list by subscribing below.

Thank you for reading.

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About Me

More About the Author

Bernard K

Analytics Consultant | 3X Tableau Certified

Bernard is a data analytics consultant helping businesses reveal the true power of their data and bring clarity to their reporting dashboards. He loves building things and sharing knowledge on how to build dashboards that drive better outcomes.

Let’s discuss your data challenges! Let’s work together!

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