Upgrade to Tableau Prep 2019.1.1

What you need to know when upgrading to Tableau Prep 2019.1.1


Introduction to Tableau Prep

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

How to Get Tableau Prep

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

Start using Tableau Prep:

What's New in Tableau Prep 2019.1.1

Start by reading these blog posts

Maraki Ketema, Product Manager at Tableau:
New in Tableau Prep: Pivot rows to columns and add descriptions to any change
Sasha Singh, Product Consultant at Tableau:
Scaffold Data with Tableau Prep to fill gaps in your data set

Clean and Shape Data

Pivot rows to columns

Storing data in generic and overly normalized tables is common when a database table holds a set of key value pairs. However, this overly generic structure makes it difficult to analyze the data. Sometimes your data may have many columns of data that need to be converted into rows, other times you may have fewer columns but the data values represent multiple things. Customers have been looking for a simple and direct way to pivot rows to columns to make use of the data in these types of structures. Now, users can change the direction of their pivot from a drop down inside the pivot experience.  

To make shaping your data easier than ever, you can now choose the pivot option that is right for you. In one pivot step, you can select one of the following options: 

  • Columns to Rows: Drag one or more fields to the Pivoted Fields pane to pivot columns to rows.
  • Rows to Columns: Drag a field to the Pivoted Fields pane to create new columns using the field values, then drag in the field to use to populate those columns and choose how you want to aggregate them.

For more information, see Pivot your data.

Use wildcard search to pivot fields

If you have a data set with a large number of fields or if fields are frequently added or removed over time, you can use a wildcard search when pivoting columns to rows to instantly pivot your data based on a wildcard pattern match. If new fields are added or removed that match the pattern, Tableau Prep detects the schema change when you run the flow and the pivot results are automatically updated. 

To use wildcard search to pivot your data, first add a pivot step, then click the Click here to create wildcard pivot link to open the wildcard search field. Enter a wildcard search pattern to find fields with names that match the values you entered. Click the Search Options ... button to select whether you want to include fields that contain, start with, or end with the pattern you entered. Click Enter to apply the pattern and Tableau Prep automatically pivots the fields.  

For more information, see Pivot your data.

Use descriptions to add context to changes  

Add descriptions to any change in the Changes pane to add context to your cleaning operations. Simply open the Changes pane, right-click or Ctrl-click (Mac) on a change in the list and select Add Description. Then type a description in the text field that appears. The description appears below the generated text for the change with a comment icon. 

For more information, see View your changes.

Use cleaning recommendations to quickly split data in fixed-width text files

In prior releases, if you worked with data stored in fixed-width text files, that is files containing strings of data values in a single column constrained by a fixed character limit, you might have had to perform some pre-cleaning on the file or use complex calculations to separate out the values into separate columns. Users parsing fixed width data in Prep would need to write their own calculated fields for each split, or use a separate program like Excel for pre-processing. Prep now recommends guided calculations to do these splits.
Now, when you connect to this type of data source, the cleaning recommendations feature detects these types of columns and suggests split options for you. Simply connect to your data source, then add a cleaning step, and in the Profile pane click on the Recommendation (lightbulb) icon on the profile card. Click Apply to the Split Values recommendation to split the fields. Check the results and proceed to clean or rename each new field as needed.

Prep makes a best guess at splitting your fixed width file into fields. You may still need to adjust the boundaries in the generated changes or change the datatype and name of the resulting columns.

For more information, see Apply cleaning operations using recommendations.


Tableau Prep is a stand-alone product that works seamlessly with Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server and Tableau Online. At any point while working in Tableau Prep, 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 to preview your data.

  • Tableau Prep 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 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 source, 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 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 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 were made. 
  3. Profile pane: The profile pane in the center 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 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 plus 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 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 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 applies 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. The Tableau Server REST API must be enabled in order to receive publish requests from Tableau Prep. For more information see REST API Requirements.

Tableau Online

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

Faster Updates to Tableau Prep

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

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

Additional Resources

How can I get Tableau Prep?

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

Unsure of your license situation? Start by reading Maintain Licenses for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep.

Try Tableau Prep first for free!

You can download a free 14-day trial of Tableau Prep here.

Review Tech Specs

Technical requirements for Tableau Prep can be viewed here.

Tableau Prep Release Notes

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