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Macros befuddle me: Where do I learn how to make them? Example included with Filter-Browse


Hi all:


I use Alteryx every day and I love the tool. One of my hurdles has been Macros. Simply put: they're confusing to me. And all the instruction I've found online gives me fish, but no instruction on how to catch those proverbial fish myself.


I may have a use-case for a simple macro, but I just can't seem to figure out how to get this working.  Here's my use case:


I often use a combination of filter/browse in my workflows to identify one item out of thousands as a reasonable, rational way to see if the workflow is working properly. When many of my tables are literally 110 columns deep, it is nice to have this sort of granular look at just one item.

The way I've been tackling this for the last few months is to create a tool container with the Filter/Browse combo. But I thought to myself: can't I just make this a macro?


The attached yxmc is my attempt at this. So far, I'm incredibly (and frustratingly) unsuccessful at this. It's that whole fumbling-with-the-new thing we all deal with. I'm cool with that, but at a point, I just need to reach out for assistance. Winthin the workflow, I have a suer variable called ProdCd. This matches pretty much all of my workflows where this macro would be a part of it; I'd like to pass that variable from my workflow to this macro, but I haven't the slightest clue on how to make that happen. Also, it is notable that in this macro, the filter is not behaving in a way I would expect at all--it's not actually filtering anything at all.


My end goal is to have the output of this macro show up in the Results window as a quick audit tool that I could plop around my workflow as an abridged browse tool that is configured based on the product code I'm looking for.


I'd also appreciate any videos/tutorials that can reasonably explain the purpose and fuction of the interface tool. When do I use an Action tool? Why? When do I use the various interface tools and why? What's the difference between the Q, the diamond thingy, and the lightning bolt?


ALSO: When I use this thing in a workflow, it has an upside down question mark and unexpected items in the configuration. What is that question-mark thing and how do I use this guy?!


Thanks for your help!

Alteryx Certified Partner
Alteryx Certified Partner



Hopefully I will help you learn to fish.  I did create a new macro and placed it into the Alteryx Gallery.  It is based upon your desired audit macro and it should provide you with a learning opportunity.!app/Filter-Match/57b89383aa690a11a4cf5f41


Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 1.27.18 PM.png


Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 1.40.08 PM.png


Incoming data is read into the macro and the user is able to configure the following:


  1. Filter Parameters
    1. Which single field (selected from your input data) do you want to search against?
    2. What value are you searching for?  
      This value can be a partial ('X' for XYZ, or '.5' for 3.5 or 12.5) match and it is case insensitive.
  2. Select Fields for Output

Output data:

  1. Output:  Records matching the criteria and only fields selected for review.
  2. Counts:  Summarization of domain values for the selected field and their counts.


This macro gives you the ability to create a dropdown and a checkbox based upon the fields present in an unknown data stream.  There are multiple action/updates within the macro that control the Filter, Selection and Summarize tools.  At the bottom of the macro input tool you will see a magnifying glass.  When you want to use incoming data fields as part of your macro, you would connect that anchor to the similar macro interface anchor (top) of the desired selection tool.


I've also attached the macro to this post.  If you would like to review the macro with me, I'd be happy to help you.  Anyone who is befuddled deserves a helping hand.






Alteryx ACE & Top Community Contributor

Chaos reigns within. Repent, reflect and reboot. Order shall return.
Creative Director
Creative Director

@MarqueeCrew does a great job explaining the wonderful journey to understanding Macros. He is also an awesome resource on anything Alteryx. 


I wanted to point out that there is a two part tutorial in the product that should help you build and use a very basic macro. From the Help menu:

2016-08-22 09_32_27-Alteryx Designer x64 BETA - 07 Build a Macro 1.yxmc_.png


In this tutorial, you can simply follow the numbers and place/configure tools on the canvas. I hope this helps. Once you get the basics down the world of macros is a fruitful one and experts like @MarqueeCrew will always get you out of the weeds ;)

Tara McCoy
Yeah, I looke that up in the help menu and tried it, but I actually couldn't get the flow to run. I have no idea why: I followed directions to a T, but it still didn't work. So, then I hopped on YouTube and couldn't find anything relevant to the very basics. I'm hoping @MarqueeCrew's explanation will help once I'm able to devote some time to this later in the week.

Thanks for your help!


Alteryx Certified Partner
Alteryx Certified Partner

I'm still impressed with your befuddled term.  I've been using the filter match macro while doing some testing.  I like it.  Here is a configuration panel screenshot:



Alteryx ACE & Top Community Contributor

Chaos reigns within. Repent, reflect and reboot. Order shall return.

Hi Mark:


Thanks so much for this!  While this is a solution to the problem, I'm still befuddled.  Here's why:


It seems that I have a simple problem to solve. But your solution looks pretty complex and employs the update action tool often. I still haven't the foggiest notion as to why we use that thing!  What is it for?!?! My research has come up empty: I see tonnes of uses for it, but I don't understand what it is for, why I need to use it, etc. I feel that this is the keystone in my understanding: macro tools don't look incredibly complex--but they feel super dense in functionality. And without an English version of what they're for (which I still haven't found and find it really hard to search for!), I just haven't been able to sort it out.



Sorry, you don't have access to this workflow.


This workflow is not shared with you via a collection.


Aparently, there's a credential issue with that gallery?

Alteryx Certified Partner
Alteryx Certified Partner

Suppose you were to filter for product code contains "XYZ".  The interface tool will allow a user to select your favorite ACE, "MarqueeCrew".  What you need actions to do is to switch fields from Product Code to ACE and to switch values from XYZ to MarqueeCrew.


The actions are a necessary evil. 


Drop me an email and tell me when you have an hour and I'll setup a webex to help you.  I'm on the East Coast and will try to be available for you sometime this week.




Alteryx ACE & Top Community Contributor

Chaos reigns within. Repent, reflect and reboot. Order shall return.

Q: Question
Diamond thingy: Condition

Lightning bolt: Action.

Actions are used to update variables in the tools that they touch; question are used in your interface to create the actions.