Alteryx Designer Ideas

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Alteryx 11 formula tool default data type

The default data type for new columns used to be Double, and now it is V_WString.  Is this user-configurable?  I find that, at least in my work, needing a formula to output a Double is way more common than a V_WString.  I'm curious of other community members' thoughts here.  If there isn't a consensus, it would be great to have this be a user-configurable default.

22 Comments
Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

Thanks for adding this idea. When we were researching prior to rebuilding the Formula tool, we found that many users ran into errors with a default set to Double. I'm looking forward to seeing more comments on this issue. 

Atom

It would be great to be able to choose which data type I'd like as  the default whenever I add a new column. 

Meteor

Thanks Rachel!  While V_WString does not error on the formula tool itself, it certainly causes errors / issues later in the workflow since the string column cannot be used in numeric calculations.   Neither is perfect, but Double gives the error immediately (in the case a String was needed but Double was used), rather than having to track down the issue when you are developing later parts of the workflow (in the case a Double as needed but String was used).

Bolide

I also totally agree with @sbedwell in that I would rather experience more errors in the Formula tool right away because I forgot to change from a Double to a String rather than not experiencing an error right away or at all because I forgot to change from a String to a Double. However, a user configurable default data type would allow each user to do what's best for them. While we're at it, I think it would be nice to make the data size user configurable as well if the user chooses a string default.

Asteroid

Agreed it should be double as it makes error checking a lot faster. A compromise could be to have it default to double if it can, otherwise string (i.e. if everything is numeric then it can be a double, elseif it contains a string, be a string field).

Meteor

Among other problems with 11, I also just ran into a major problem with the fact the default data size on the V_W String is 1073741823. I missed updating this on a formula, and when I performed an Output to a MS SQL Server table, it interpreted it as a Blob. Suddenly my scheduled workflow was taking 4 hours to run, and completely throwing off all of the downstream refreshes I was doing to Tableau daily. It took my a couple weeks to track down what the problem was...a lot of wasted time.

 

Please return the default to Double, or if it's a String, limit the size to 255 or something.

It does seem that the formula tool could be configured to default to the data type of the column or constant being entered. This is very aggravating when I've got 18 formulas to build in one formula tool, and have to change each data type from V_WString to a number. I had no issue using ToNumber() or ToString() formerly to change the constants, but this has definitely slowed me down.

Meteor

Additionally annoying...it looks like if you then edit a name of a formula you created, it reverts it back to the V_W String type with the outrageous file size. Please, Alteryx, fix this!

Atom

I second the comment on the default data size for the new formula tool. Spent the better part of two days trying to understand why I couldn't get a table to output to our server, the problem was the default data size of the V_WString.

 

Either make the default user update-able or make it more reasonable.

Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

@drahn We've made a change that will address the last issue you mentioned coming in the next release. Once you modify an expression, it will not return to default settings. 

 

Thanks again to everyone else for your feedback on the default data type and size. We're continuing to look into this. We have also gotten positive feedback for the default data type and size that we must consider.