Upgrade to Tableau Prep 2018.3.2

What you need to know when upgrading to Tableau Prep 2018.3.2


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 2018.3.2

Start by reading this blog post by Annie Worman, Senior Content & Editorial Strategist at Tableau:
Master Tableau Prep with this list of learning resources

Clean and Shape Data

Improve data quality fast using cleaning recommendations

To help you find and fix problems with your data fast, Tableau Prep can now examine your data fields and suggest changes you can make to fix the problem. Tableau Prep examines your data fields and when a recommended change is identified, a light bulb icon appears on the Profile card for the field.

Click the light bulb icon to see the recommended changes, then hover over the recommendations card and click Apply to automatically apply them to the field. The change is recorded in the Changes pane and can be removed at any time.

For example, Tableau Prep may identify the field values as URLs and recommend applying a data role to the field to help identify values that are not valid in this context.

This feature is available in all step types except Input, Output and Join step types. In this release, recommendation types include:

  • Data roles
  • Filters
  • Remove fields
  • Trim spaces
  • Replace invalid values with Null values

For more information, see Apply cleaning operations using recommendations.

Other Enhancements

Added flexibility when running flows from the command line

When running flows from the command line, if you connect to databases or publish output files to a server, you need a credentials .json file that includes all required credentials. In past releases if you only connected to databases or published the flow output to a server, you would still need to include the empty array in the credentials .json file or the process would fail.

Now you no longer need to include the empty array in the credentials .json file. For example, if you only connect to databases you no longer need to include the outputConnection array in the .json file.

For more information about running flows from the command line, see Refresh output files from the command line.

Performance improvements

To help make working with your flows faster and more efficient, we have made the following enhancements:
  • Shutting down the product returns the memory space Tableau Prep was using right away.
  • If you receive an unexpected error you can now retry your action or process to keep you in the flow.
  • Improved performance when loading data or viewing data in a flow to reduce processing time.
  • If you connect to the following connectors, you can now use a search field to quickly find your schema:
  • - Amazon EMR Hadoop Hive
  • - Cloudera Hadoop
  • - Hortonworks Hadoop Hive
  • - MapR Hadoop Hive
  • - Presto
  • - Spark SQL


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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Professional Services

Our consultants can teach you how to get the most out of the new Tableau Prep feature and unlock the value in your data.