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How do I know if I need to use a Join tool or a Union tool?
This is a fairly common question. You have two datasets and you need to combine them into one larger data set, but how do you go about doing that? Alteryx has two tools that make this very easy depending on what you're trying to accomplish; the Join Tool and the Union Tool.
So what is the difference anyway?
The Join tool will make your file wider, meaning it adds fields to your data or combines your inputs horizontally. You want to use this tool if you're looking to add information for existing records. For instance, maybe you have a list of customers with the store ID that they shop at, and then have a separate list of the Store locations. If you want to add the Store information to the Customer information, you'd need to do a Join based on the Store ID field. This will match record by record the Stores with their Customers so your Customer file now has the Store information on it. Note that this can result in duplicate records depending on how your data sets are set up so be prepared to check your data.
The Union tool makes your file longer, meaning it adds records to your data or combines your inputs vertically. You want to use this tool if you're looking to stack two files on top of each other. For instance, maybe you have a list of customers from each region of your sales organization and want a single master customer file. All your region files have the exact same fields. The Union tool will align your data sets based on the Field names (either automatically or you can do it manually if there are slight variations) and you'll end up with one master file with all the same fields.
Take a look at the attached sample (built in Alteryx Designer 11.3) that demonstrates the difference!