11 Tips & Habits for Efficiency and Consistency in Alteryx

A few months ago, I drafted an Alteryx “beginner Alteryx tips and tricks” post, but I never finished it. This week, I’m finishing that post with a combination of simple tricks I wish I had learned sooner and habits I’ve created to drive efficiency and consistency in Alteryx. Read on to learn more.

Blog or Video

The high-level summary is laid out below, but I really go into details and share examples on in the YouTube video.

Tricks I Wish I Would Have Learned Sooner

  1. Use the Apply button in the bottom left of all tools to validate changes. You don’t have to click outside the tool. I worked in Alteryx a LONG time before I ever realized this button existed.
  2. Use the navigation buttons in each tool to find “far and away” connections rather than manually tracing connections. Double click on the tool you want to jump to.
  3. Line up Input tools either horizontally or vertically so they can be highlighted, selected, and cached in one swoop. (And there is a right-click option to line them up automatically).
  4. Manually configure unions until confirming all columns are expected and placed correctly. You can always change it to Auto configure by name after confirming the columns are correct. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought I knew what was flowing thru a tool and been very wrong.
  5. Think through when to (and not use) the “Unknown” checkbox in Select, Join, and other tools. Unknown can be very helpful, but it is not helpuful as an afterthought. I usually check the Unknown box in tools appearing early in my workflow and uncheck it tools towards the end.
  6. Write annotations knowing they are searchable in the Find panel. This makes it easy to jump to specific places in your workflow.

Habits for Consistency and Efficiency

  1. Form tools of habit.
    1. For example, I put the same set of tools at the start and end of every workflow to quickly accomplish specific tasks.
  2. Form tasks of habit. For example…
    1. I rename columns in a Select tool after an Input tool (as opposed to renaming in the Input tool). One way is not better than the other. My habit is to do it a specific way so I always know where to look for renames.
    2. The Summarize tool always adds a prefix of the aggregation method to your column name. I always do my renaming in the Summarize tool, as opposed to farther down the workflow.
    3. Always, always, always inspect the fall out of joins. The larger a workflow gets, the more likely your assumptions about what should (or should not) fall out of a join are wrong. Inspect everything.
  3. Create a naming convention and stick to it religiously. Consider these areas.
    1. Case, spacing and punctuation
    2. Prefixes or suffixes
    3. Precision
    4. Units of measure
  4. Sort and reorder any time you think you need it.
  5. Never suffer through slow running workflows.

Habits like these save time and produce a consistent, easy to understand output.  Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your own habits and tricks for efficiency and consistency in Alteryx. Please leave a comment.

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Content created with Alteryx 2020.3.

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