Upgrade to Tableau Prep Builder 2020.2.3

What you need to know when upgrading to Tableau Prep Builder 2020.2.3

Overview

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 2020.2.3

Start by reading this blog post by
Rapinder Jawanda, Senior Manager of Product Management, Tableau

New in Tableau Prep Builder: Search for data sources in Tableau Server and Tableau Online, and introducing the Alibaba MaxCompute Connector.
Note: This blog post was created for Tableau Prep Builder 2020.2.2, but it is also relevant for 2020.2.3.

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

Use OAuth authentication when connecting to data using Snowflake


Now when you connect to your data using Snowflake you can use any of the following authentication methods, just like in Tableau Desktop:
  1. Username and password
  2. SAML IdP
  3. OAuth

For more information about connecting to your data source using this connector, see Snowflake in the Tableau Desktop help.

Added in previous versions of Tableau Prep Builder

You may be interested in knowing what features were added to Prep Builder in previous months' releases. Below is information in summary form with links to product help.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.2.2

Connect to data

Connect to data using Tableau Server or Tableau Online

In previous versions, you could connect to published data sources stored on Tableau Server or Tableau Online. Now, if you have the Data Management Add-on with Tableau Catalog enabled, you can also search for and connect to databases and tables stored in Tableau Server or Tableau Online.

Simply select Tableau Server in the new Search for data section of the Connect pane and sign into your server. The Search for data dialogue will open and you can search for and select from curated data sources.

Additional metadata such as a description of the data source, data quality warnings, and certifications help you find the data source you are looking for without ever leaving Tableau Prep Builder. You can also use the filter option in the top right corner to filter your results by connection type, data quality warnings and certifications.
If you do not have the Data Management Add-on with Tableau Catalog enabled, only published data sources will be shown and you will not be able to view the metadata.

For more information about connecting to data, see Connect to published data sources (version 2019.3.1 and later).

Connect to data using Alibaba MaxCompute

If your data is stored in a data warehouse, you can now connect to this data source using Alibaba MaxCompute. For more information about connecting to your data source using this connector, see Alibaba MaxCompute in the Tableau Desktop help.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.2.1

Connect to data

Connect to your Salesforce.com data

Tableau Prep Builder can now connect to your Salesforce data so you can clean and prepare it for analysis in Tableau. Using custom SOQL and creating a standard connection are not yet supported.

For more information, see Connect to Salesforce data (version 2020.2.1 and later).

Keep flow data fresh

Process only your newest data using incremental refreshes

If your flow data is constantly changing, you can now save time and resources by using incremental refreshes to return and process only the latest rows of data added since the flow was last run. Just configure incremental refresh parameters for your flow to tell Tableau Prep Builder how to detect and return the new rows from your input data and how you want your tables to be updated by your output when the flow is run.

You can now choose to append new data to your existing tables or use Tableau Prep Builder's existing functionality that replaces your table data with the new data.

Set up and run your flows on a schedule using Tableau Prep Conductor, or run individual flows incrementally in Tableau Prep Builder or through the command line interface.
Note: Tableau Server version 2020.2 or later is required (with Tableau Prep Conductor enabled) to schedule flows using incremental refresh.

For more information about setting up and running flows using incremental refresh, see Refresh flow data using incremental refresh.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.1.5


The Tableau Prep product team is committed to testing and correcting any and all issues reported by users or affecting customers' optimal use of the product. Announcements of resolutions to customer-facing defects get posted on our release notes pages on a monthly basis.

For more information, see Release notes for Tableau Prep Builder 2020.1.5, which is part of our Tableau Support Release pages.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.1.4

Connect to data

Connect to data with Cloudera Impala

Just like in Tableau Desktop, you can now easily connect to your larger data sets using Cloudera Impala.

For more information about connecting to your data source using Cloudera Impala, see Cloudera Hadoop in the Tableau Desktop help.

Clean and shape data

Convert date values in a single click

To help make cleaning your data even easier, Tableau Prep Builder has added another quick cleaning menu option for dates. If you need to convert your date values to show a DATEPART like year, month or day, you can select one of the following menu options from the new Convert dates menu instead of writing a complex field calculation.

For more information about applying cleaning operations to your dates, see Apply cleaning operations.

Save and share your work

Stay connected to your server

You no longer need to sign into Tableau Server or Tableau Online every time you open Tableau Prep Builder. Now, Tableau Prep Builder remembers your server name and login information when you close the application so that the next time you open the application you are already logged into your server.

This time-saving option will help you seamlessly connect to publish data sources or insert saved flow steps and if you need to know if a certain feature is compatible with your server version, compatibility warnings will be shown instantly without you having to sign into your server first.

For more information, see Create and publish data extracts and data sources.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.1.3

Install and deploy Tableau Prep Builder

Support for login-based licence management (LBLM)

Login-based licence management helps you manage licensing for users with Creator roles on Tableau Server and Tableau Online. Users with Explorer or Viewer roles cannot use this feature. If you’re using role-based subscriptions with Tableau Server or Tableau Online, you can simplify your licence management using login-based licence management to eliminate separate Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder product keys. You only need to manage one or more product keys for on-premises Tableau Server, or in the case of Tableau Online, you don’t need to manage any product keys at all.

For more information, see Login-based licence management.

Connect to data

Pass parameters to your data source using Initial SQL

Now you can pass parameters to your data source using Initial SQL to provide more details about your Tableau Prep application, version and flow name. Tableau Prep Builder supports the following parameters:
TableauApp - Returns the application being used to access your data source – Prep Builder or Prep Conductor.
TableauVersion - Returns the application version number. For Tableau Prep Builder it will return the exact version number, for example 2020.1.1. For Tableau Prep Conductor, it will return the major server version where Tableau Prep Conductor is enabled, for example 2020.1.
FlowName - Returns the name of the .tfl file.

For more information about using parameters when connecting to your data source using Initial SQL, see Include parameters in your Initial SQL statement (version 2020.1.3 and later)

Clean and shape data

Use level of detail (LOD), rank and row number calculations to clean your data

If your data is aggregated at a different level than what you need to analyse it or if you need to perform calculations across a set of rows you can now use FIXED level of detail (LOD) and RANK and ROW_NUMBER analytic function calculations to create the data that you need in your data set.
For example, add a FIXED LOD calculation to change the granularity of fields in your table. Use the new ROW_NUMBER () analytic function to quickly find duplicate rows, or use one of the new RANK () functions to find the top N or bottom N values for a selection of rows with similar data.

If you want a more guided experience when building these types of expressions, you can use the new visual calculation editor.

For more information about using these calculated fields to clean your data, see Create level of detail and rank calculations.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.1.2


New in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.1.2: Third-party library updates: OpenSSL, postgresql, postgres jdbc.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2020.1.1

Connect to data

Map flow inputs back to their original connection

If you used multiple inputs to build your flows, it is not always obvious how to find the individual tables or data sources you used for the different inputs when you later need to make updates or swap out a connection. To make finding your flow inputs and tables easier, we have added a new feature that highlights the connector and table for a selected input in the Connections pane. Simply select one or more input steps in the flow pane, and the related connector and tables are highlighted in the Connections pane.

For more information about how to connect to your data to build a flow, see Connect to data.

Clean and shape data

Pause data updates to boost performance

Every time you apply cleaning operations to your data, Tableau Prep Builder refreshes your view so you can instantly see the results of your changes. While building new flows, this constant feedback helps you quickly identify which steps to take next, but sometimes applying these changes can take time. To boost performance and make applying changes to your data faster, you can now pause these constant data updates and apply your changes in bulk.

Simply select the Pause data updates button in the top menu and Tableau Prep Builder pauses your data updates and switches the Profile pane view into List view so you can quickly apply your changes. Instead of refreshing your view with every change, only the field metadata is shown. When you finish your changes and want to see the results on your field values, click the Resume data updates button to switch back to the standard data update mode.

For more information about pausing data updates to apply cleaning operations in bulk, see Pause data updates to boost performance.

Keep flow data fresh

Add or embed credentials for cloud connectors when publishing your flow

In previous versions, if you wanted to publish and schedule a flow that included cloud connectors, you would need to configure your credentials in Tableau Server or Tableau Online ahead of time. Otherwise, Tableau Prep Conductor could not detect your credentials and the flow would fail to run. Now you can add and embed your credentials for your cloud connectors directly from the Publish dialogue in Tableau Prep Builder in a few simple steps.

Simply sign into your server and select Server > Publish flow. In the Publish flow dialog, a new warning text shows, telling you that you have input connections that require authentication. Click the Edit connections link in the message or the Edit link in the Connections section, then in the Authentication drop-down, select Add credentials.

A secondary message will confirm your selection. Click Continueto go to your Account settings page in Tableau Server or Tableau Online, and add your credentials. When you are finished, return to Tableau Prep Builder, click Done and your new credentials will be embedded into your flow automatically.

For more information about adding credentials for cloud connectors during publish, see Publish a flow.

Version compatibility with Tableau Prep

Detect and enable incompatible features

In Tableau Prep Builder version 2019.3.1, we added warning icons and tooltips so that you can more easily see which features were incompatible with your version of Tableau Server as you built your flow, to help you make informed decisions about which features to include in your flow if you plan to publish the flow and run it on a schedule.

In this release, we’ve added even more transparency when working with new features that might not be compatible with your server version. Now, after you sign into your server, Tableau Prep Builder can detect which features are not compatible with your version of Tableau Server, and disable those features. This takes the guesswork out of which features you can include if you plan to publish your flow and run it on a schedule.

If you still want to use the feature and run your flows manually using Tableau Prep Builder or from the command line, you can enable the feature right from the menu. Just click the Use features button, and that feature along with all incompatible features will be enabled. The warning options introduced in Tableau Prep Builder version 2019.3.1 will still identify which features are incompatible with your server so that you can easily find and remove them if you want to run the flow using a schedule in Tableau Server.

For more information about working with incompatible features, see Version compatibility with Tableau Prep.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2019.4.2

Connect to data

Connect to more data with new connectors


In this release, we have added the following new data connectors:

  • Alibaba AnalyticDB for MySQL
  • Alibaba Data Lake Analytics
  • Databricks
  • Kyvos
  • Qubole Presto

For more information about how to connect to your data using these connectors, see Supported connectors in the Tableau Desktop and Web Authoring Help. For general information about connecting to data to build a flow, see Connect to data.

Clean and shape data

Pivoting columns to rows just got easier


When you need to pivot your data from columns to rows, you can now manually select fields in the profile pane to pivot them, or Tableau Prep Builder can recommend the fields to pivot and create the pivot for you. Both options generate your pivot step automatically, so you can quickly perform any additional pivot actions like renaming the pivoted fields or pivoting on additional fields.
To manually pivot columns to rows from the Profile pane, simply select the fields you want to pivot, then right-click or Ctrl-click (MacOS) and select Pivot columns to rows from the menu to create the new pivot step and pivot your fields.

If Tableau Prep Builder detects fields that can be pivoted, a recommendation option will show in the Profile pane toolbar. Click the
lightbulb icon Small lightbulb in the toolbar and select the pivot recommendation. The recommendation shows which fields it will pivot. Simply click Apply to generate the Pivot step and pivot your fields.

For more information about pivoting your data, see Pivot your data. For more information about how to use recommendations to clean your data, see Apply cleaning operations using recommendations (version 2018.3.2 and later).

Additional enhancements

See feedback for long-running operations


To give you more visibility when processing large data sets or flows, we've added a progress indicator at the top of the Flow pane to give you status updates as Tableau Prep Builder processes your data. Now you can have more visibility into what Tableau Prep Builder is doing behind the scenes, so you no longer have to wonder whether your data is still being processed or if a problem has occurred.

Features added in Tableau Prep Builder 2019.4.1

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.

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

N/A

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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