Quick Start | Excel to Dataiku#


Get started#

Welcome to Dataiku!

This hands-on tutorial is geared toward Excel users who are adding Dataiku to their workflow. We’ll guide you through exploring, preparing, and visualizing a dataset so you can become more comfortable in Dataiku’s all-in-one data platform. Let’s get started!


In this tutorial, you will:

  • Create a Dataiku project and import Excel data.

  • Interactively explore a dataset.

  • Clean and prepare data.

  • Join two datasets together.

  • Create pivot tables to analyze the data.

  • Build charts and a dashboard to share insights.


To check your work, you can review a completed version of this entire project on the Dataiku gallery.

Create an account#

To follow along with the steps in this tutorial, you need access to a 12.1+ Dataiku instance. If you do not already have access, you can get started in one of two ways:

  • Start a 14-day free trial. See this how-to for help if needed.

  • Install the free edition locally for your operating system.

Open Dataiku#

The first step is getting to the homepage of your Dataiku Design node.

  1. Go to the Launchpad.

  2. Click Open Instance in the Design node tile of the Overview panel once your instance has powered up.

  3. See this how-to if you encounter any difficulties.


If using a self-managed version of Dataiku, including the locally-downloaded free edition on Mac or Windows, open the Dataiku Design node directly in your browser.

Create the project#

In this tutorial, we’ll work with accounts receivable data for a fictional office supply company. The invoices.xlsx file that you will download contains several thousand invoices, including the invoice date, due date, date paid, amount, and product code.

The Excel file contains two sheets, one with invoices from 2021 and one with invoices from 2022. In Excel, you might copy and paste to combine multiple sheets. In Dataiku, we’ll import both sheets into one dataset where we can perform analysis and visualization all at once.

Excel screenshot of the invoices file with two sheets.

Let’s start by creating a Dataiku project where we will import the Excel file. In Dataiku, projects are containers for all the files, analysis steps, visualizations, and documentation for a particular activity. This tutorial project also already contains one file we’ll use later.

Once you are on the Design homepage, you can create a project from our tutorial template.

  1. From the Dataiku Design homepage, click + New Project.

  2. Click DSS tutorials in the dropdown menu.

  3. In the dialog, click Quick Starts on the left-hand panel.

  4. Choose Excel to Dataiku Quick Start, and then click OK.

Dataiku screenshot showing steps to create a new project.


You can also download the starter project from this website and import it as a zip file.

Import and explore data#

After creating the project, you’ll be on the project Flow, where you’ll see the products dataset, which we’ll use later.

Import an Excel workbook#

First, we’ll import the first dataset to work with, invoices.xlsx.

  1. Download the Excel file invoices.xlsx.

  2. In the upper right corner of the Flow, click on + Dataset.

  3. Choose Upload your files from the dropdown menu.

Dataiku screenshot showing the upload files step.

This takes you to the New upload files dataset page. Dataiku can connect to files in a number of different storage options, and you can upload files such as Excel or CSV files directly from your computer.

  1. Click Select Files.

  2. Navigate to the invoices.xlsx file on your computer, and either double-click the file name or click Open on the dialogue box.

Dataiku shows a preview of your data file, along with the data types and first few rows for each column. We can also configure various settings, including importing both sheets to one table.

  1. Click Configure Format, and options will appear at the bottom of the page.

  2. Under Sheets selection, change the selection to All.

  3. At the bottom of the page, select Add the sheet name as an output column, which will create a new column containing the sheet name that each row originated from — in this case, the year.

  4. Click Create in the top right.

Dataiku screenshot showing the configure format step.

The rows from both sheets are now combined into one dataset named invoices, and Dataiku takes you directly to the table. You can see the total number of rows in the top left — in our case, 9,238 rows!


You can also import a multi-sheet Excel workbook into multiple Dataiku datasets using the Excel sheet importer plugin. See this how-to for details.

Explore the data#

The default view for a dataset in Dataiku is the Explore tab, which looks similar to an Excel worksheet, with extra functionality. From here, you can get a quick overview of data quality, plus sort, filter, and analyze the dataset by any column.

Dataiku screenshot of the dataset Explore tab highlighting the record count and data quality bar.


If your file contains more than 10,000 rows, Dataiku will show a preview of only the first 10,000 rows so you can work interactively on even very large datasets. You can change the sample settings by clicking on the Whole data or Sample button at the top left of the dataset. Read more about sampling in Concept | Sampling on datasets.

The top of each column includes several pieces of useful information. Directly underneath the column name is the data storage type (in black) and the data meaning (in blue). The storage type and meaning are related but different. Storage type refers to how Dataiku stores that column in the backend; the column meaning gives an auto-detected, semantic label to the data type, such as date, text, or country.

The green and red bar near the top of each column gives us quick insight into potential issues with dirty data. For instance, we can see an invalid invoice number highlighted in red in the data and in the bar at the top of the column. Dataiku uses the column meaning to determine validity.

Analyze columns#

Before transforming the data, you’ll want to explore the data quality and distribution of data in each column. In Dataiku, you can do this with just a few clicks using the Analyze feature.

  1. In the Explore tab of the invoices dataset, click on the column called Sheet Name, which is the automatically generated column that includes the worksheet each row was imported from.

  2. Select Analyze in the dropdown menu.

  3. Use the arrows at the top left of the Analyze window to scroll through each column and view the quality and statistical summaries of each.

Dataiku screenshot showing the column name dropdown and the analyze option.

The Analyze window shows a summary of how many rows Dataiku shows as valid, invalid, or empty, giving you more insight into data quality.

For Sheet Name we can see all rows are considered valid. As you scroll through, pay attention to the invoiceNumber column. There are five invalid rows. We won’t be using the invoice number in this tutorial, so we won’t worry about fixing these.

For text or date columns, you can view the count of each value, and for numerical columns, you can view the distribution of numbers, along with statistics such as min, max, mean, and sum.


You can also use the dropdown for each column header to sort or filter the dataset by that column, or even edit the column’s description or datatype.

Clean data#

The Prepare recipe is a major workhorse in Dataiku. This is where you can perform many of the same cleaning steps as you do in Excel — such as find and replace, IF functions, or custom formulas — but with the added benefit of tracked, repeatable, and editable steps.

Create a Prepare recipe#

Let’s use a Prepare recipe to do some quick data cleaning and calculations. Within the recipe, we’ll use the processor library, a collection of about 100 built-in data functions. As we work, we can preview the output within the recipe screen. When we’re happy with the results, we’ll run the recipe to create a new output dataset that is ready for analysis and visualization.

  1. From the Explore tab of the invoices dataset, click on Actions near the top right to bring up the right panel, known as the Actions panel.

  2. In the Visual Recipes section, select Prepare.

  3. Click Create recipe.

Dataiku screenshot showing the steps to create a Prepare recipe.

This brings you to the Prepare recipe Script page, where you add all the cleaning and transformation steps.

Edit column name#

Most of the column names are easily understandable, but the automatically created Sheet Name column might cause confusion later, so let’s change it to Year.

  1. Click on the column name Sheet Name.

  2. In the dropdown menu select Rename.

  3. Rename the column Year.

  4. Click OK.

Dataiku screenshot showing the steps to rename a column.

Nice job! You’ve successfully added the step Rename column ‘Sheet Name’ to ‘Year’ to your Prepare recipe. Notice the step now appears in the script on the left.

Dataiku screenshot showing the Rename step in the Prepare recipe.


In the Prepare recipe, column headers also contain other proposed steps based on the detected meaning of the column. Check out the options available in some of the other columns, such as invoiceDate or productPrice.

Parse dates#

In Dataiku, you can easily transform dates from any format into a standard date format and even use a smart pattern finder to help. Transforming dates to standard format, which includes the year, month, day, and time, eliminates any ambiguity about the format and allows you to perform date functions.

We have three date columns to transform. This time, we’ll add a new step another way, through the processor library rather than the column header.

  1. On the left side of the screen, click + Add a new step. This brings up the processor library.

  2. Search for and select the processor Parse to standard date format.

  3. In the new step added in the script, choose multiple next to the Column input box. This will allow us to process all three date columns at once.

  4. Click Add a Column and select dueDate, then repeat twice more for invoiceDate and settledDate.

  5. Next to Input date format(s), select Find with Smart Date to use the pattern finder tool.

  6. Select MM/dd/yy, the correct format the input columns are in, then click Use date format.

Dataiku screenshot showing steps for the parse date processor.

When you return to the script page, check the output preview. You should see that all date columns are now represented with standard formats!

Calculate time to payment#

Next let’s add a date calculation to find the number of days it took each customer to pay the invoice.

  1. Click on the column header for invoiceDate.

  2. In the dropdown menu, choose Compute time since.

  3. In the new step, under until, select Another date column.

  4. Add settledDate to the Other column.

  5. Keep the output in days, and add an Output column name of timeToPayment.

Dataiku screenshot showing steps in the compute time difference processor.

You’ll see the new output column in the preview of the dataset.

Write a custom formula#

We have two columns regarding the revenue for our invoices — invoiceQuantity and productPrice. To find the total revenue for each invoice, we can create a custom formula that shows the total revenue for each invoice.

Dataiku also has its own spreadsheet-like Formula language with common mathematical and string operations, comparison and logical operators, and conditional statements that you can use to create new columns. For this example, we want to create a simple multiplication.

  1. Click on the column header for invoiceQuantity.

  2. In the dropdown, choose Process with formula.

  3. In the new step, name the Output column revenue.

  4. Under Expression, add * productPrice to end of the formula that has been started for you.

    The new column revenue appears in the preview with the computed values!

    Dataiku screenshot showing steps to add a formula processor.

    We’re now done with our data preparation and can run the recipe.

  5. Click Run in the bottom left.

  6. When the job is finished, click on Explore dataset invoices_prepared at the bottom of the screen to explore the new dataset with our cleaned and prepared data. This dataset will also now appear in the Flow.

Running the Prepare recipe and viewing the output dataset.


The Prepare recipe has many other features to explore! You can group, color, comment, duplicate, and copy-paste steps (find options by clicking on the three dots on any step in the script). You can also reorder steps by clicking on the left side of any step and dragging it to the desired spot.

Join two datasets#

You might at times deal with data that exists in two separate but related worksheets or tables. In Excel, you can use a VLOOKUP or Index/Match to bring in values from another sheet based on values in a column. But this method is limited to bringing in values from only one column.

In Dataiku, you can join datasets based on much more complex relationships using the Join recipe. Joins connect data from two — or more! — datasets and match values based on a common key column. You can bring in multiple columns from the other datasets, save unmatched rows to check your join quality, and even filter your data pre- or post-join.

Create a Join recipe#

The invoices_prepared dataset includes a column called productCode, which is a number that represents a product sold by the company. We’ll match the codes to actual product names in another file, products, which has already been imported into the project, so we can analyze product sales.

  1. Return to the Flow. You can do this by clicking on the Flow menu on the left of the top navigation bar, or by using the keyboard shortcut g + f.

  2. Click on the invoices_prepared dataset.

  3. From the right Actions panel, under Visual recipes, select Join with.

  4. In the New join recipe window, add products to the Input datasets.

  5. Click Create Recipe.

Dataiku screenshot showing steps to create a join recipe.

Set the join options#

In the recipe settings, you can choose from a number of different options. You’ll first need to decide the join type.

  1. Click on Left join to view the different join types and explanations.

  2. Change the join type to Inner join. This will leave us with only the rows that match from both datasets.

    You also need to set the join key, which is shown directly below the join type menu. In our case, Dataiku has correctly identified the productCode column from each dataset.

  3. Leave the automatically selected join key of productCode. If you need to change this, click anywhere on the join key visual to bring up the join condition settings.

    Next, decide what to do with any unmatched rows. You can either choose to drop them or send them to another output dataset so you can gauge the quality of the join.

  4. Click on Drop unmatched rows and change the option to Send unmatched rows to other output dataset(s).

  5. Click the + Add dataset button under the the invoices_prepared dataset.

  6. In the info window, add the Name unmatched_invoices.

  7. Click Use dataset.

Dataiku screenshot showing join options.

In the next step, we can also check the columns to include in the output dataset. By default, Dataiku selects all non-conflicting columns, so it will include the productCode only from the left dataset. You can change these settings by choosing Manually select columns. We’ll leave the default.

We’re now done with the basic join settings. We’ve already practiced running a recipe from within its settings, so let’s run it another way — from the Flow.

  1. Click Save at the top right of the recipe.

  2. Return to the Flow, using the top navigation menu or keyboard shortcut g + f.

  3. When you return to the Flow, the Join recipe will be selected.

  4. In the right panel, click Run.

  5. Leave the default Not recursive, which means only this recipe will run. Click Run.

  6. When you see the Job completed notification, you can double click to explore the invoices_prepared_joined dataset.

Dataiku screenshot showing how to run a recipe from the Flow.

You’ll see that the output dataset includes all information from the invoices dataset and also the product name.

Dataiku screenshot highlighting the new column added from the join.

Also notice the dataset has 9,236 rows — 2 fewer than the original invoices dataset. You can explore these in the unmatched_invoices dataset created in the join. These two rows were missing product codes. Because these are a small portion of the data, we won’t worry about fixing them.

Visualize and share data insights#

After preparing and joining our data, we are now ready for some quick analysis. To get an overall picture of our accounts receivable, we might want to know how many invoices fall into each of the categories — paid within 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, longer, or unpaid. We can also analyze which products have brought in the most revenue in the last two years.

In Excel, you can do this with Pivot tables, which can group together by columns and/or rows, then calculate values for each group.

In Dataiku, there are multiple ways to group and aggregate data, depending on your goals:

  • Group recipe, which produces aggregated statistics for groups in a key column (similar to a pivot table built by grouping rows but not columns).

  • Pivot recipe, which reshapes data into a pivot table and creates an output dataset that you can use in the Flow.

  • Charts, which group and visualize data using pivot tables, bar charts, line charts, and many more options.

We’ll use charts to quickly explore and analyze the data, and then build a dashboard to share our insights.

Create a pivot table#

The Dataiku charting tool is located in the Charts tab within any dataset. From here, you can create multiple charts and publish them to a dashboard to share.


If your data is larger than 10,000 rows, charts will use the same sampling settings as the dataset. You can change these in the Explore tab or in the Sampling & Engine panel of the Charts tab.

We’ll start with a pivot table to analyze the time to payment for the invoices. We can use a built-in feature to bin the invoices by 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals.

  1. From within the invoices_prepared_joined dataset, navigate to the Charts tab (next to the Explore tab).

  2. Choose Pivot table from the chart type dropdown menu.

  3. From the Columns panel on the left, drag timeToPayment into the Rows box.

  4. Click on timeToPayment to bring up variable settings, and change the Binning mode to Fixed-size intervals. Then change the Bin size to 30.

  5. Drag Year to the Columns box, then click into the binning settings and set the Binning mode to Treat as alphanum so the years will be grouped by year instead of binned.

  6. Drag Count of records into the Value box to populate the pivot table.

Dataiku screenshot showing the steps to create a pivot table.

You can change the variable settings, such as labels or formatting, by double-clicking on the variable name, and change the chart title by clicking on it.

Dataiku screenshot showing the final pivot table.

Create a bar chart#

Next let’s create a bar chart showing the total revenue each product has brought in during these two years.

  1. Create a new chart by clicking the + Chart button at the bottom of the screen.

  2. In the chart type dropdown, select Horizontal stacked bars.

  3. From the Columns panel, drag revenue to the Show box.

  4. The default aggregation is average, so go into the variable settings and change the Aggregation function to Sum.

  5. Drag product to the By box.

  6. To create the stacked bars, drag Year to the And box. Click into the variable settings and change the Binning mode to Treat as alphanum.

Dataiku screenshot showing steps to create a stacked bar chart.

Feel free to play with other formatting settings, such as color or tooltips! You can also experiment with creating some other charts, such as customers with unpaid invoices, or total revenue by year.

Dataiku screenshot of the final stacked bar chart

Publish to a dashboard#

We can share our data insights with others in our company by creating a dashboard from the charts.

  1. From either chart, click on Publish at the top right.

  2. In the window, select both charts at the left.

  3. Click Create to add the insights to the project’s default dashboard.

Dataiku screenshot showing steps to create a dashboard.

This brings you to the dashboard Edit tab, where you can resize and rearrange the charts you added, plus include more elements such as text or images.

  1. Resize the charts by clicking and dragging their edges, using the grid as a guide. Suggested sizes are 4x3 squares for the pivot table and 8x4 squares for the bar chart.

  2. Rearrange the charts on the dashboard by clicking, holding and moving them into your desired spot.

  3. When you’re done editing your dashboard slide, Save and switch to the View tab to see how the slide will appear.

Dataiku screenshot showing steps to edit a dashboard.

When you are happy with your dashboard, you can share it with others via the options in the Actions panel. You can Export the dashboard to various file types or Publish it to workspaces for colleagues to view (if you have the proper permissions from your administrator).

Dataiku screenshot highlighting the options to share a dashboard.


Dashboards also have many more options to explore! You can add other elements such as datasets, discussions, wiki articles, text, images, and much more.

Nice work! You’ve imported, cleaned, joined, and visualized a dataset to start your journey with Dataiku!

What’s next?#

Congratulations! You’ve taken your first steps with Dataiku. Continue learning how to translate your Excel skills into Dataiku with the Excel to Dataiku User Guide.

You also can deepen your knowledge of Dataiku through the Core Designer learning path and challenge yourself to earn the Core Designer certificate.