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10 min read

Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop

A review of Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop software for use in direct marketing business intelligence operations

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Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop is a segment of Talend’s free open source ETL software. While, unlike Talend Open Studio, it is not a complete ETL tool, it provides some useful tools which can assist with the data preparation process.

Talend Free Desktop is a browser-based tool which provides a GUI for the extraction and transformation part of the ETL process. It can assist in cleaning and preparing data to use either in Talend Open Studio, or with any other application, and create macro-like processes which can be run on similar datasets.

Talend Free Desktop allows users to perform many tasks similar to what can be done within most spreadsheet software, however it is designed to be more intuitive, and without the need to manually create formulas. This tool makes it possible to do quickly what typically would have required doing a lot of manual cleanup and custom formulas. In addition to this, it allows quick data visualization of patterns, values, and automatically generates charts on-the-fly.

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It has some tools which will help automatically detect anomalies and offer suggestions, and can also provide some fairly clear graphical representation of variations within datasets, and to quickly visualize results and identify frequencies of inconsistent data.

While performing these processes, macro-like “recipes” are dynamically created recording each step along the way. These resulting recipes can be quickly applied to similar datasets to repeat these actions.

All changes and modifications of data within Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop happen on the fly. No changes are made to original data, and any results are stored in active memory, until exported. The resulting data can be exported into standard xls or csv, and tableau formats.

Features:

Talend Data Preparation free desktop provides a number of features that make cleaning up and preparing data for further analysis easy and fast.

Below are some examples of ways that data can be cleaned up, organized and normalized either for quick viewing, exported for more detailed analysis in other software.

Built-in formulas

With a spreadsheet, typically there are a few built-in functions, such as summarization and formatting. Most other functions require constructing a formula. With Talend Free Desktop, most of these exist as a selectable list of common tools, which can be applied by choosing a column and clicking on the function. Finding the correct function is relatively easy. For most functions, if you know what you are looking for, typing a word or two will narrow down the list to find the correct tool. Choosing this function will automatically apply the rule to a selected column or row.

Data Clean-up function examples

Data Aggregation

Data on a spreadsheet can quickly show summaries of items within categories, and will quickly generate bar charts for quick data visualization. Below is an example of a summary of activity per occupation.

Data Aggregation Example

Data Summaries

Quick summaries of data can be viewed by selecting a column. The counts of items within that column are show in a chart on the right.

Data Summary Example

Data Standardization

Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop can automatically identify data types, and will display the type at the top of the table column. If the data type is incorrect, it is easy to change with a couple of clicks. For data types such as date, by using built-in pattern recognition, this software can help remove the painstaking and error-prone process of associated with manually checking for incorrect or inconsistent formats. Talend Free Desktop will display the different pattern structures, and can help one identify outliers, and automatically change these to a specified format.

Date pattern recognition example

Automated Data Lookup

Crosslinking data from one spreadsheet or table to another is simply a matter of choosing an associated dataset which shares a column with your original sheet. For instance, as a direct marketer, if you have customers who have responded from specific states but you would like to quickly see response rates for a region, choosing a lookup sheet will automatically recognize relevant data from an external data source to bring necessary information into your current worksheet.

Data lookup example
Lookup results example showing frequencies of respondents by region

Recipes (Macros)

Any actions taken through manipulation of a sheet become automatically stored in “recipes” which are a series of steps taken on a specific dataset. If there is another set of data delivered in the same format, such as sales within a different quarter, applying the same recipe to the sheet will run through the same data preparation procedures in seconds.

Data Preparation Recipe Example

Wyzoo Star Ratings

While not a full ETL tool, Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop can help at least at a minimal level to help front end marketing staff to be able to get a quick glance at data, and to better organize it so as to be able to make decisions much more quickly. It can help make sure that data is well-normalized so any deeper levels of analysis are more likely to be accurate.

For small organizations this can be very helpful as it will provide a quick understanding of what data is telling you. However, it will not extract data and transform datasets of different structures, and it is not a loading tool. It does, however, serve some very useful functions such as making sure data is clean, readable and understandable not just for people but for other software.

Working with Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop requires little time to get up and running. Installing it is simple and it loads in the browser. Most functions are fairly straightforward and tutorials and manuals are very clear.

There are a few drawbacks, due to the fact that it uses a web browser interface. You are a little at the mercy of the processing power of your web browser, and the javascript-based results can create some wonky layout. Inability to resize panels within the browser can cause some frustration, however overall the experience is a positive one.

Talend has a very active support community. The forum isn't separated by product, so it is a little difficult to determine whether support for Free Desktop is as strong as for Talend Open Studio, The product seems relatively stable, and a quick search did not return up many recent issues. The Github page seems to have some minor activity

Talend Official forum (for all Talend products)

https://community.talend.com/
111733 posts
“Online Users” - shows people currently logged in. Hovers around 450
Several posts/day
Design and Development appears to be most popular channel w/ over 93,000 posts.

Github:  https://github.com/Talend/data-prep

  • Commits:

    7798

  • Contributors:

    49

  • Releases:

    751

  • Watch:

    40

  • Star:

    52

  • Fork:

    23

  • Commits/Contributors:

    160

5.0 5.0

Virtually no technical knowledge is used to use Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop. Data can be cleaned up, and modified without even the basic set of skills required to use spreadsheet software such as Excel. Simple functions like changing data format, formulas, graphing, and even vlookups become unnecessary. Most functions one would need to use within spreadsheet software are able to be chosen from a menu of items.

On top of this, it can prevent many possible mistakes. The original dataset is never modified, so if any bad sorts, filters, or deletes occur they are easily recoverable as nothing has actually changed. All results, if needed,are output into new files. With the automatic “recipe” creation, even if an output file becomes damaged, it is typically only a matter of a few clicks to recreate it.

Summary: Key takeaway

Talend Data Preparation Desktop can be a beneficial part of an arsenal of ETL tools for direct marketers. While it is not a full ETL tool in itself, it can handle quite a bit of the data preparation in a simple and easy to comprehend way. Clean and organized data can make the other steps of extracting, transforming and loading information a good deal easier. While true data analysis may require many specialized skills, if the front end of the organization can organize information quickly and at their fingertips, this can improve everything such as managing sales prospects to making the work of the back end of the business that much easier

Talend Data Preparation Free Desktop comes highly recommended as a tool in a direct marketing organization's arsenal.

Export Formats

  • CSV
  • Excel
  • Tableau

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