New in Tableau Prep: Group steps, custom fiscal dates, and more

The September release of Tableau Prep Builder (2020.3.3) is here! We’re excited to announce several new features to improve the experience for creating and reusing complex data preparation flows—from grouping steps to automatically recovering flows in the event of a crash. Read on for more details.

Group steps for more modular and reusable flows

Data preparation often involves creating complex flows that cover multiple business rules or cleaning objectives. These complex flows, containing many reshaping and cleaning operations, are often challenging to edit, share, and maintain. To make it easier to scale Prep to these rich use cases, we’re excited to introduce group steps. Now, you can collapse multiple steps into a single group that behaves like a single step, making it easy to copy and reuse in multiple flows, move around in a large flow, or to help with overall flow comprehension.

Custom fiscal dates

For many of our customers, a fiscal year does not correspond to a calendar year (e.g., beginning in January). For instance, Salesforce, our parent company, begins its fiscal year in February, and data processing needs to be aware of this business rule. To better leverage Prep’s date field and aggregation features, Prep users can now configure date fields to support custom arbitrary months for the start of a fiscal year.

Save and reuse incremental refresh steps

We recently introduced incremental refresh to Tableau Prep to support incremental processing of large datasets. As this feature has been adopted by customers, some customers have had to duplicate the refresh logic for deciding what data was “new” across several flows. In keeping with the theme of reusability, Prep users can now save input and output steps to their local machine or publish to Tableau Server as saved steps. This makes it easier for multiple flows to incorporate incremental processing across the organization.

Improved onboarding experience for Prep Builder

To help customers get the most out of Prep Builder, we’ve made several UI improvements to make it easier for new users to get started. One improvement is that once you’ve added a data set into a flow, Prep shows you where your next cleaning step can be added. Simply click on the suggested step and a cleaning step is added in one click, helping you along in your data preparation journey.

Configure script step through the Help menu

We’ve also aligned our experience with Tableau Desktop on how you set up Analytic Extensions for script steps through the Help menu. This unfortunately means that flows with script steps created in older versions of Prep Builder will need to be edited and reconfigured using the UX below.

File recovery of draft flows

It can be frustrating to lose work if you forget to save or the app unexpectedly quits. Now, Tableau Prep automatically saves work on flows that haven’t been saved, and periodically saves drafts of opened flows. When the app restarts, you’ll be prompted to load those drafts, enabling you to quickly recover your work.

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