Upgrade to Tableau Prep Builder 2019.4.1

What you need to know when upgrading to Tableau Prep Builder 2019.4.1


Introduction to Tableau Prep Builder

Tableau Prep Builder is a Tableau product designed to help everyone quickly and confidently combine, shape and clean their data for analysis.

How to get Tableau Prep Builder

Tableau Prep Builder is included alongside Tableau Desktop in the Tableau Creator offering. Existing Tableau Desktop customers with maintenance agreements can also get Tableau Prep Builder as part of their maintenance benefits.

Start using Tableau Prep Builder:

What’s new in Tableau Prep Builder 2019.4.1

Start by reading this blog post by Emily Chen
Product marketing specialist at Tableau

The blog post covers new Tableau features in general, not just Prep Builder

Now available in Tableau: View recommendations, table improvements, webhook support and more

Note: Starting from version 2019.1.2, Tableau Prep is now called Tableau Prep Builder. This name change is to distinguish it from the new Tableau Prep Conductor which runs on Tableau Server as an add-on. With the launch of Conductor, the work you do in Prep Builder running on your Tableau Desktop can be saved to run in a centralised, scalable and reliable server environment so that your data is always up to date and easy to share.

Connect to data

Connect to more data in the cloud

In this release, we've added the following cloud connectors:
  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • OneDrive

Additional configuration may be needed to save your credentials for these connectors if you plan to publish your flows to Tableau Server or Tableau Online. For more information about connecting to cloud data connectors, see Connect to cloud data sources.

Additional enhancements

Share usage data with Tableau

Tableau collects data that helps us learn how our products are being used so we can improve existing features and develop new ones. All usage data is collected and handled according to the Tableau Privacy Policy. However, you can opt out if you don’t want to participate.

The opt-out option has changed. Usage data collection is enabled by default. If you don't want to participate, select the Don't send product usage data check box from the installer, the Customise installer (MacOS) dialog or the Help menu after installation.

For more information, see Turn off usage reporting in the Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep deployment guide.

Default database drivers no longer automatically installed for MacOS

When installing Tableau Prep Builder on Mac, we only install the PostgreSQL database driver automatically. If you need other drivers to connect to your data, you can install them from the driver download page.

You may be interested in knowing what features were added to Prep Builder in previous months' releases. We are starting to add this information in summary form with links to product help.

Added in previous versions of Tableau Prep Builder

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2019.3.2

Performance improvements

Interactive performance improvements   

Good news for users who may have experienced performance issues in their data Prep Builder workflows. We have made improvements with this release:

  • App startup – The application starts up to 15% faster than in the 3.1 release.
  • Excel and text files load – Loads Excel and text files up to 50% faster than in the 3.1 release.
  • Wildcard union – Customers using wildcard union should experience performance gains of up to 50% faster for text files and up to 700% faster for Excel files.
  • Node materialisation – Updates to cache union steps in a flow will allow customers to see up to a 95% improvement in performance depending on how many union steps they have in their flow and where they click on the flow.
Conductor compatibility

The interactive performance improvements are compatible with Conductor and should not affect batch mode in any way.

Build and organise your flow

Updated insert steps   

Inserting steps in a flow used to be a multi-step process, but with these updates, you will be able to insert any step (except inputs and outputs) without going through the multi-step process. This capability will be available for copy-and-paste steps and reusable flow components. Open any flow and navigate to a branch. When you hover over the branch, notice that there is a new ‘+’ menu. Click on the icon and select the step you would like to insert.

For more information, see Add or insert steps.

Conductor compatibility

This feature is fully compatible with Conductor. It does not impact how flows are run.

Reusable steps

Many users find themselves applying the same set of cleaning operations to prepare data, they want to be able to reuse some of their work within the same flow for different data and across multiple flows. This new feature helps users easily reuse steps from a flow to help save time and, whenever possible, leverage the work of others. A user can now select a group of connected steps and save them to a file to reuse in other flows or publish them to Tableau Server to reuse later or have others leverage their work.

For more information, see Create reusable flow steps (version 2019.3.2 and later).

Conductor compatibility

Flow snippets are simply .tfl files that can be published on Tableau Server. They can be scheduled if there is an input and output step.

Examine and filter your data

Fuzzy match custom data roles   

With Prep Builder 2019.2.2, users were able to fix invalid values of built-in data roles by replacing them with the closest valid value – a fuzzy match. And, with Prep Builder 2019.3.1, came the ability to create custom data roles. With this release, users will be able to automatically fix invalid values by matching and replacing them with the closest valid ones. Now users can leverage custom data roles and automatically fix invalid values!

Select any data set and categorical field and publish as a custom data role. Then apply that data role to data with inaccurate values. The recommendations offer the choice to replace invalid values with the closest one for the data role (it uses the pronunciation and spelling algorithm) and you can simply apply it to fix your data quality issues.

For more information about fuzzy match, see Group similar values by data role.

Conductor compatibility

Fuzzy grouping algorithms do not run in batch mode – when the flow is authored and a user selects a grouping algorithm, the exact groupings are stored in the Changes list and those in turn are run in batch mode, making this feature compatible with Conductor.

Navigation and displays

Flow navigation   

If you are building large flows in Prep Builder, it can often be difficult to navigate these flows. With flow navigation, customers get a minimised version of their flow that they can use to navigate. From this tool, you can also zoom in and out of the flow.

  • Open a large flow.
  • The mini map is located in the bottom right-hand corner.
  • Use the picker to navigate around the flow.
  • Use the rest of the buttons on the mini map as follows:
  1. The down arrow allows you to minimise the mini map.
  2. The ‘square’ button zooms the flow out enough to fit the whole flow onto your screen.
  3. The ‘+’/‘-’ buttons will allow you to zoom in to and out of your flow.
  4. Click on the % indication which will automatically zoom the flow back to 100%.

For more information, see Use the flow navigation tool.

Conductor compatibility

Fully compatible.

 List view  

Customers love the view in the input step because they can easily see all their fields and take quick actions, such as renaming or removing fields, and wanted a similar experience for all steps. Sometimes they were frustrated by the fact that they often see no more than 4 or 5 fields in the view and must scroll to see the rest. The new list view allows customers to have a different view of their data focused specifically on their metadata. From this view, users will be able to easily remove and rename steps as well as be able to change data types and add calculations.

  • Open any flow.
  • Navigate to any step.
  • From the toolbar above the profile pane, select the list view icon:
  1. Hover over any field and hit the ‘X’ button to remove the field.
  2. From the ‘...’ menu, you will see all the cleaning options that are available in the profile pane. All operations that affect your values (filtering, for example) will transition you automatically to the profile pane. Actions only affect your metadata (such as renaming a field).

For more information, see Select your view.

Conductor compatibility

Fully compatible as it has no impact on how outputs are run.

Command Line Interface (CLI) improvements

MacOS keychain credentials no longer needed for each flow run   

Many customers are using the command line interface to automate running Tableau Prep flows on their machines. Our latest improvements in this area will eliminate the need for a user to manually enter their MacOS keychain credentials every time the flow runs. Just run any flow using the command line interface that is installed with Tableau Prep Builder.

Conductor compatibility



Tableau Prep Builder is a standalone product that works seamlessly with Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server and Tableau Online. At any point while working in Tableau Prep Builder, you can create an extract of your data, publish your data source to Tableau Server or Tableau Online, or even open Tableau Desktop directly from Tableau Prep Builder to preview your data.

  • Tableau Prep Builder works on Windows and Mac. It can create Tableau extracts (.tde and .hyper) and CSV files that can be used in Tableau 10.0 and later versions of Tableau.
  • In Tableau Prep Builder, you can connect to many of the same data sources available in Tableau Desktop, Server and Online. For a complete list of Tableau-supported data sources, click here.
  • With some data sources, you may need to install drivers before connecting to your data. If this is the case, see the Driver download page.

New workspace for faster speed to insight

Tableau Prep Builder uses Tableau’s data connectors, calculation language, and governance structure, making it possible to get you up to speed quickly and ready to collaborate at any point in the analytical process.

The Tableau Prep Builder workspace consists of the connections pane, the changes pane and three coordinated areas designed to help you interact with and explore your data:

  1. Connections pane: The Connections pane shows the databases and files you are connected to. Add connections to one or more databases and then drag the tables you want to work with into the flow pane. 
  2. Flow pane: As you connect to, clean, shape and combine your data, steps appear in the flow pane. You can hover over the icons at the top of each step to see what changes have been made. 
  3. Profile pane: The profile pane in the centre of the workspace shows a summary of each field in your data sample. This is where users can see the shape of the data and quickly find outliers and nulls.
  4. Changes pane: Tableau Prep Builder keeps track of any changes you make, in the order you make them, so you can always go back and review or edit those changes if needed.
  5. Data grid: The data grid shows the row-level detail for your data. The values displayed reflect the operations defined in the profile pane. You can filter, keep only and exclude individual field values in this grid, or drag and drop fields to change the display order.

For complete descriptions, including a video, see Workspace in Product help.

Saving and sharing outputs

Defining output

Tableau Prep Builder can save three types of files:

  1. .tfl files containing a flow
  2. .tflx files containing a flow and local file-based data sources, such as Excel and text files
  3. Output files containing the results of running a flow

Output files can be saved in .hyper, .tde and .csv formats, and are defined in the output step. The output files can be opened in Tableau Desktop, and published to Tableau Server or Tableau Online.

Tableau Desktop

Running the flow on Tableau Desktop results in a Tableau data extract file, either a .tde or .hyper depending your version of Tableau. Either one will be saved in your Tableau repository in the Datasources folder. It can also be output to .csv files if you need to use your prepared data for other tools or processes.

Note! Once an extract has been created, whether .tde or .hyper, and a workbook based on it, the same compatibility rules for use with different versions of Tableau apply as in other usage situations. For more information, see Make workbooks compatible between versions.

Tableau Server

To publish your output to Tableau Server, use the Publish menu in Tableau Prep Builder. The Tableau Server REST API must be enabled in order to receive publish requests from Tableau Prep Builder. For more information see REST API requirements.

Tableau Online

You can also use Tableau Prep Builder's Publish menu to publish your output to Tableau Online as a .hyper extract, .tde extract or .csv file and provide centralised access to the data you have cleaned, formatted and combined.

Faster updates to Tableau Prep Builder

We’re moving fast and will be launching new features frequently for Tableau Prep Builder, independent of the Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server or Tableau Online release cycles. Customers will need to upgrade to the latest version of Tableau Prep Builder to take advantage of new features and product fixes.

This site will post new links at regular intervals to community user scenarios, product information and – not least – tricks of the trade for the latest in fast, fun and efficient data prep.

Additional resources

How can I get Tableau Prep Builder?

Tableau Prep Builder is a subscription-only product included in the Tableau Creator offering. Existing Tableau Desktop users with maintenance agreements will be able to download and use Tableau Prep Builder as part of their agreement. If you haven't downloaded Tableau Prep Builder already, you may do so by visiting this page or by simply clicking the download button at the top of this upgrade page, which always points to the latest version of Prep Builder.

Unsure of your licence situation? Start by reading Maintain licences for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder.

Try Tableau Prep Builder first for free!

You can download a free 14-day trial of Tableau Prep Builder here.
Review tech specs

Technical requirements for Tableau Prep Builder can be viewed here.
Tableau Prep Builder release notes

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