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Automatic/Dynamic data type in the Formula tools

I surprisingly couldn't find this anywhere else as I know it's been discussed in person on many occasions.

 

Basically the Formula tool needs to be smarter in many ways, but this particular post focuses on the Data Type component.

 

The formula tool, should not always default to V_String as the data type when entering data or a formula into the formula tool, it should look at the data type and estimate the most likely option.

 

I know there are times where the logical type might not be consistent in all fields, but the Data Preview and the Function of the formula should be used to determine the most likely option.

 

E.G. If I type a number or a date directly into the formula tool, then Alteryx should be smart enough to change the data type from the standard V_String to Int, Double or date.

 

This is an extension to the ideas posted here:

https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Alteryx-Designer-Ideas/Tab-from-Select-Column-to-Enter-Expression-H...

https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Alteryx-Designer-Ideas/Formula-tool-data-type-should-be-prominent/i...

https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Alteryx-Designer-Ideas/Alteryx-11-formula-tool-default-data-type/id...

10 Comments
jarrod
12 - Quasar
12 - Quasar

yes yes yes!!!! it already evaluates the expression as you are typing it, so that logic is there somewhere. Hopefully it isn't too much trouble to utilize that in the field type selection. 

Kenda
15 - Aurora
15 - Aurora

This would be so helpful! When your formula evaluates correctly, it can be easy to forget to change your field type.

KylieF
Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

Hi all! Thank you for your feedback!

 

It's awesome to see an idea catching such quick traction and interest, it really helps our product team gauge the interest of certain features among our wide range of users. For anyone interested in this idea please be sure to provide your feedback as well as any use cases and to check out of Submission Guidelines that go over the idea boards process in a bit better detail.

Kenda
15 - Aurora
15 - Aurora

@KylieF 

 

This is a very simple example/use case, but I think it illustrates the point. In the screenshot below, you can see that Field1 and Field2 are both numeric field types. Therefore, in my formula tool, it can easily add these two fields together to create the new Sum field. The result in this new field is technically a number because it is the result of a mathematical formula. Currently, however, Alteryx defaults all new fields to V_WString so this seemingly numeric field is actually seen as a string by Alteryx. It would be awesome if Alteryx could recognize that this should be a number and change the assigned data type automatically.

 

Kenda_0-1593089185381.png

 

KylieF
Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team
Status changed to: Under Review

Thank you for your feedback!

 

Our product team is currently reviewing the technical and time based requirements to implement this idea in the product. Once we have a better understanding on what would need to be done and if we can include this on the near future roadmap we'll make sure to update this idea directly.

jbuchmiller
5 - Atom

Yes!  Most of complaints I've encountered promoting adoption of Alteryx are the "basics" that don't work the way people expect / have gotten used to with Excel, etc.

cgoodman3
12 - Quasar
12 - Quasar

When creating new columns of data in a formula tool (i.e. a calculation), the formula tool defaults to v_wstring as the data type. This requires the user to remember or to know to change the data type to avoid falling foul of issues downstream.

Alteryx Ideas.gif

Therefore the suggestion is for the tool to auto-detect the best field type based on the user input. For example if you are doing calculations based on numeric values then update to a double, if you are doing string functions on string values then leave as v_wstring.

Joe_Lipski
13 - Pulsar
13 - Pulsar

Very similar to the idea below and a few others that I linked, but a much better explanation and example than what I gave @cgoodman3

 

https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Alteryx-Designer-Ideas/Automatic-Dynamic-data-type-in-the-Formula-t...

 

The above idea has 41 likes and has been under review for over a year, so hopefully some progress is being made!

cgoodman3
12 - Quasar
12 - Quasar

Thanks @Joe_Lipski it didn’t come up as a similar idea when I posted, but like what you put almost a year ago it’s something I was surprised wasn’t posted about previously as it seems like an intuitive feature to have.

CristonS
Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

I am going to merge this with the link Joe posted, and check in on the status. Thanks, all!