Prep vs Alteryx: What is the better Data Preparation tool?
Prep vs Alteryx: What is the better Data Preparation tool?

Ever wondered which tool is the best for Data Preparation? Well now you have come to the right place!

Daisy Jones

Welcome to the fight we have all been waiting for. The battle of the Data Preppers!

In our Blue corner we have Alteryx!

In our Darker Blue corner, a navy type blue, we have Tableau Prep!

To decide which is the superior Data Preparation tool, there are five rounds; Intuitiveness, Functionality, Customer Experience, Aesthetics and Familiarity. So let’s get this started.


Easy to use and understand

Prep definitely has the upper hand in this round. With only 7 Tools compared to 157, Prep is like a cute teddy bear whilst Alteryx is an angry Grizzly Bear. If I was a first time user, I know which one I would want a hug from.

Fewer tools means there is less of a sense of being overwhelmed or feeling completely lost. Tableau Prep carefully guides the user to limited choices which will help them transform their data to how they wish to see it in Tableau. There are an abundance of tools available in Alteryx but doing simple data preparation would only use around 15% of those tools, all of which are available in Prep. 

Another point to add is how Tableau Prep can automatically establish the data type. For those who are not used to terminology such as Boolean, Integer and String, Prep does the dirty work for you. On the other hand, Alteryx leaves you to figure that out for yourself.

Where Alteryx is able to do a quick jab is that the power of these additional tools can really transform your data. From recent experience with Prep, I found myself knowing exactly what to do in Alteryx with specific tools that Prep does not yet have. All I wanted was a simple Multi Row Formula. Is that too much to ask for? 

So when it comes to quality over quantity this round goes to Tableau Prep.


Range of operations that can be used for Data Preparation

In this round, Alteryx makes a comeback. With a fierce right hook, and the power of 157 tools, Tableau Prep falls in this round.

Alteryx has many tools and once you have mastered the basics (essentially the Favourite tools) you can start wading through the other tools and transforming your data completely. The opportunities are endless, and you can create Macros and Analytic Apps to allow users to investigate their data without needing extensive knowledge of Alteryx. 

Here Tableau Prep is struggling to keep up. The cuddly exterior is not enough to withstand the power of Alteryx. In efforts to make a user friendly experience, the inability to do a multi row formula and other functions creates a couple of obstructions. Though it doesn’t prevent you from being able to prep your data, it leaves you wishing for more. 

In this round, Alteryx undoubtedly wins. 


The view and design of the preparation 

As mentioned before, Alteryx can become overwhelming for the unsuspecting user. So it is no surprise that Tableau Prep wins the prize in this round. With the sleek lines connecting the tools to each other, and the ‘sticky’ way of placing the tools on the canvas, Tableau Prep can create a professional, stylish looking workflow that anyone can understand.

Alteryx on the other hand can look like a child has escaped with some silly string in hand. Though neat design doesn’t always mean a better quality of work, this does help considerably for when you need to hand over a workflow. 

Though this round is clearly won by Tableau Prep, aesthetics only go so far. Ultimately, this is down to the user themselves to decide and this round ties closely with Simplicity. 

Customer Experience

Making the most of their money

Who doesn’t love a bargain? Four years of University taught me the true value of holding onto the vouchers so I can save £2 on my next shop. 

So why not get the best of both worlds?  A data preparation tool and data visualisation tool in one bundle. This is what Tableau can offer. Tableau Prep is like an add-on service which allows users to prep their data and then output it as a Tableau Hyper File which goes straight into Tableau Desktop. The perfect solution.

Though Alteryx does not have a luxury bundle package, it still holds strong analytical power. As far as functionality stands, there are many questions which you can answer from Alteryx without the use of Tableau. 

Inevitably this leads us to the ultimate question – how the user intends using the data preparation tool. Do they wish to build their answers in visualisations or do they want to be able to find their answers in the preparation? 

So, who wins?

The winner is …

Who am I to make that decision? 

As someone who really enjoys design and formatting, I personally can be more drawn to Tableau Prep’s minimalist style. But as I delve deeper into the data world, the practical functions definitely trump the design and simplicity. So from my perspective, I would favour Alteryx. But working at The Information Lab Ireland, we learn to use both Tableau and Alteryx, so ultimately it is up to the client to decide what suits them and of course we can help you with that.

Hope you enjoyed this blog, it is meant to be some fun reading. 

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What is the The Information Lab Ireland’s Graduate Training Program? 

The Information Lab Ireland’s Graduate Training Program is a two-and-half-year program for people with drive and a desire to try something new in data.

When they join us, most of our candidates are completely new to Tableau and Alteryx. After a 14-week intensive training course, they become part of our consulting team, available for long-term engagements with our clients. 

We train our graduates in both the technical and soft skills required to be a top-class data analytics consultant. 

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