Upgrade to Tableau Prep 2018.2.1

What you need to know when upgrading to Tableau Prep 2018.2.1


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 2018.2.1

Start by reading this blog post by Arthur Gyldenege, a Senior Product Manager for Prep:
Announcing Tableau Prep 2018.2.1: Easy enterprise deployments and more data connectors

Install and Deploy Tableau Prep

Deactivate Tableau Prep from the Command Line (Windows)

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

For more information see Deactivate the product key. For 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 in 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 cannot 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.  

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 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.

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 do not 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, it highlights the field in yellow, suggesting a match. Click the plus button that appears when hovering over 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 "Merge fields" under Join or Union 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

Other Enhancements

Improved usability and performance

We have also made the following enhancements to improve usability and performance: 
  • New animations in the Profile pane help catch your eye to better see the impact of your changes.
  • 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.


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 for two years, as part of their maintenance agreement. Check out the ways to get Tableau Prep.

Test 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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