05 Nov 2015

Alteryx: Must Know Developers Tips for Complex Workflows – Part 2

Sandeep Chayanam

This is the second blog post of my series of blogs discussing Alteryx: Must Know Developers Tips for Complex Workflows. Here I'm going to share some basic tips that Alteryx developers need to be aware of and potentially use them in their workflows wherever applicable. I would suggest reading part 1 of this series if If you have not already. 

Tip #1: SELECT Tool features 

SELECT is one of the most powerful, and most commonly used tool in any workflow. It is mainly used to select/deselect fields, changing data types, changing the column order and for renaming fields. Most of these can be done on a single field or on a group of highlighted fields from the Select tool configuration window. 

Figure 1 below shows how to select/deselect the highlighted field(s) are highlighted. 

Figure 2 below shows how to shuffle the fields around. This can also be done by selecting field(s), right click and then drag & drop.

Select tool can also be used to export field names and data types into field type file (.yxft) and import in a different workflow.

Tip #2: JOIN Tool

We all know that the JOIN tool blends data from the two inputs LEFT (L), RIGHT (R) based on a JOIN Condition and returns the following:

Join (J) output returns all matched records. This is equivalent to a SQL INNER Join.
LEFT (L) output returns all unmatched records from left input
RIGHT (R) output returns all unmatched records from right input

The JOIN tool can be configured to return only the selected fields from the Join (J) output. Left and Right outputs by default return all fields from their respective sides even if some fields are not selected as shown on Figure 3 below.

From the above figure, DepartmentName field is not returned from Join (J) output where as it is returned from the Right (R) output.

A useful tip to achieve the SQL equivalent of OUTER JOIN outputs (LEFT, RIGHT) can be achieved as follows:

  • UNION data from LEFT + JOIN ports for LEFT JOIN
  • UNION data from RIGHT + JOIN ports for RIGHT JOIN

Tip #3: User Settings

Alteryx engine creates temporary files during workflow execution which get stored in a directory specified during the installation. This can be overwritten from the User Settings window as shown below. In the same way, log files directory can also be updated (see Figure 4 below).


Tip #4: Performance Profiling

This feature is newly introduced in Alteryx 10.0. Enabling this feature outputs the workflow execution time broken down for each tool and its relative percentage as shown below. This gives an idea on which tools are taking up most of the execution time and thus helps to focus our attention on potential problem areas (see Figure 5 below).

I hope you find these tips useful. Watch out for the next part of this blog series very soon. Feel free to leave a comment below  if you have any tips for us.

Read our blog on the latest Alteryx release: What excites us about Alteryx 10.0?

*The header image of this blog is credited to Alteryx

Sandeep Chayanam

About the author

I am a Senior Business Intelligence Developer at Concentra with in-depth knowledge in Data Warehousing and Data Mining. I’ve been working on various Data Warehousing and Data Visualisation projects over 3.5 years in different sectors using Microsoft technologies, Tableau software & more recently, Alteryx. My current interests are in delivering quick data blending, data analytics & data visualisations using Alteryx & Tableau tools.