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Building out a workflow and find yourself stumped when trying to add needed functionality to your process? While the Designer does an incredible job of packaging just about every operation an analyst could need, you might need that extra mile. We get that. Here at Alteryx we are all about going that extra mile; if we don’t have a tool that doesn’t explicitly capture functionality for you, we try to equip you with tools that can make for an easy reach to that functionality from resources just outside of the Designer environment (see our R Tool, the API based Connector Tools, and the Run Command Tool). In this article we’ll go over an introduction on how to make and use batch files – these will easily incorporate command line based scripting into your workflows that will help you do just about everything short of feeding your dog.
In short, a batch file is a plain text file that lists a series of commands for the command line interpreter to run in Windows. They’re frequently used to make, remove, rename, move, or even copy directories or files, ping IP addresses, run other programs or services, and manipulate environment variables – and that’s hardly even the tip of the iceberg. There’s a wealth of resources online listing the different batch commands available to you, but the Ben/Peter Parker rule applies to them all: “with great power comes great responsibility.” Please use them responsibly!
To make a batch file, all you need to do is take your desired batch command(s) and write them into a text file:
Be sure to take note of the paths being used! This batch command will make a directory named “batchfolder” in whatever directory it is in when run. Before it can be run as a script, however, we have to save it as a .bat file:
In “Save As” change the “Save as type” to “All Files (*.*)” and change the “File name” .txt extension to .bat:
In your working directory you should now see a different icon, extension, and type, describing the file:
How easy was that? If you want, you can test to see if it works by navigating to the directory the batch file resides in and typing its name into the Command Prompt:
You’ll now see the directory we made with the execution of the batch file:
See, I’m not making this stuff up. Now let’s get all this set up to run for us in the designer. All you need to do is specify the .bat file name in the “Command” configuration option - by default, it will look for this file in the directory the workflow is saved in:
In the attached example, I use the Run Command Tool as an input of a test file (specified in the “Read Results”) before writing the file to the new directory made from executing the .bat file.