A open review of Project Maestro *Beta*

Disclaimer: I am a consultant who works for an analytics company with a Tableau partnership. I was in no part solicited or paid for this review. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any other related party.

On November 27, 2017, Tableau Software released a beta version of Project Maestro. This software is Tableau's answer to the data preparation, wrangling, and cleaning tools on the market. (TechTarget has a good article on the subject if you are not familiar with the landscape.)

In the email from Tableau introducing Project Maestro, they said:

Project Maestro makes the experience of combining and cleaning data visual and direct - you can see your data always, interact with it directly and view the impact of your changes - so you can be confident you are preparing data correctly.
— Tableau Software

So how does it work?

When you open Maestro for the first time, Tableau users will notice the familiar user interface. Data sources on the left. Data detail in the center, bottom. Data Architecture in the center, top. Everything visible retains the drag and drop ability you get with Tableau software. Things you can’t drag and drop are clickable with a right or left click. Window panes are easily arranged and details about the data are easily seen.

maestro home screen.png

My Top 6 favorite features

1.     Edit as you go. You can find wonky data values and edit them directly in the tool. Maestro then saves the edits in the flow as a step.

2.     Interactive browsing. The browsing and reviewing of data is very interactive. If you click on a specific string value for example, it highlights all the associated data accordingly.

3.     It’s fast! Much like visualizing data in Tableau, the whole process is quick. Saving data to .TDE files makes visualizing data in Tableau a breeze!

4.    Aligning columns in a Union. When you UNION data, there is the ability to see mismatched columns. This is so fast: to resolve the mismatches, you simply drag columns together. Maestro maintains Tableau’s [nearly] exclusive “drive everything with the mouse” mentality.

maestro union screen_small.png

5.     The Changes Pane. Step-by-Step documentation of the changes you made to the data source in easy-to-read and easy-to-edit format.

changes.png

6.     The Pronunciation Grouping. Within a flow, Maestro can group/combine/transform data values which are very similar based on the phonetics. For example, they highlight on their website the values: “Southwest Airlines”, ”southWest airlines”, “southwest air”, etc.

Runner-Up: If you know Tableau’s coding language for calculated fields, you can create/manipulate data in Maestro using the same language. No need to relearn code or to switch to SQL.

maestro calc.png

Testing Results

Please remember this was Beta software. Bugs and Enhancement requests are to be expected. As part of my professional job working as a consultant, I am trained to log and monitor projects and software for similar events.

In using the software, I found it to be very stable. I never had the software crash and I never found a showstopper error in my testing using the “Getting Started Guide” and the provided Tableau data resources. I did experience several UI issues and the overall layout of the screen could be improved for those working on small displays like my Lenovo X1 Carbon (running at 2K HD).

Tableau has been very responsive to feedback on the Beta. And within a few hours, they had already responded to one of two of my submissions. (Shout out to Isaac Kunen from Tableau! 😊)

Conclusions

This software is amazing even in Beta! Compared to competing data preparation software out there, I found Maestro to be more intuitive.

If you already have Tableau Desktop or Tableau Server, the seamless integration with Server and Desktop is going to streamline the end-to-end business process.

For those of you who are venturing into the world of data preparation, are actively shopping for that capability, and already have Tableau: Keep riding-out your woes in Excel. Wait for Maestro. Yes, it’s THAT good! Or at least don’t commit to another tool before Maestro is released.

And to Tableau, nice job and keep up the good work!

I look forward to seeing additional features and capability in 2018!


Originally published on LinkedIn on Dec 5, 2017: here