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We’ve been made aware of an issue connecting to .xls files with the File Format: Microsoft Excel 97-2003 (*.xls). The behavior manifests in two ways.
As an error pop-up box:
'InvalidArgument=Value of '0' is not valid for 'itemIndex'. Parameter name: itemIndex'
Within the Results - Messages pane of the Designer or on the Annotation associated with the impacted tool:
‘Error: Input Data (2): Error opening connect string: Microsoft JET Database Engine: Unexpected error from external database driver (1).\3275 = -535434136’
The error box appears when an Input Data tool is configured to open an .xls file for the first time ever (if there are cached tables, then the error box will not appear). The Annotation and Results pane error message occurs when an .xls file is dragged directly onto an Alteryx designer canvas or when a workflow containing an Input or Output tool that connects to an .xls file using the above format is run (within the designer, a server, or on a schedule), respectively.
The error and experience are discussed in this Alteryx Community post, though you can also read about the issue on this external forum and here, documenting this is a widespread experience across many platforms. Towards the bottom of the external forum post, you can see a comment from a Support Engineer on the Microsoft SQL BI team stating that Microsoft recommends not using the Microsoft JET engine drivers as the current solution to the issue. We detail below how to follow that directive within Alteryx.
The root cause of the error comes from Microsoft’s October Security Update (links below).
If you have already had the update installed, must remain using the update, or choose to proceed with the update, you will experience this behavior. In those situations, here are a couple options available to you.
For new or existing workflows:
Within Excel, manually save the .xls file as a .xlsx file and within Alteryx update tools pointing to the old file to point to the new file or Browse to the new file within an Input Data tool
For existing workflows:
Within Alteryx, manually change the File format to ‘Microsoft Excel Legacy (*.xlsx)’ within the affected Input Data or Output Data tool (described below)
For new workflows/new Input Data tools you will not be able to manually Browse out to the .xls file and read it in as you will receive the pop-up error message desribed above. Your options are:
Drag and drop the desired .xls file from the Windows explorer box onto the Designer canvas and then manually change the File format to 'Microsoft Excel Legacy (*.xlsx)'
Drag an Input Data tool onto the canvas and paste the full path of the desired .xls file into the Connect to a Database box within the Configuration pane and then manually change the File format to 'Microsoft Excel Legacy (*.xlsx)'
Option 2 and 3 Step-by-Step
Determine if you have the “Microsoft Excel Legacy (*.xlsx)” option available within your Input Data tool. You can determine this by loading any file into an Input Data tool, and then clicking the “File Format” drop-down. If you have this option, you can skip to Step 7.
Determine the “bitness” of your Office Installation. The file you download will depend on whether you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Office.
Select the download that matches your Office “bitness” from before, then click “Next”. The file will begin to download. Save the file to a location that you can run it from.
Run the previous installer you downloaded. You can simply click “Next” or “Install” through the installation utility, as options do not need to be changed. Once you receive the dialog that the setup has completed successfully, you can click “OK” and continue to the next step.
If Alteryx Designer was open prior to the installation, you should close the program fully, saving your work, and then re-open Alteryx Designer. Otherwise, if Alteryx Designer was not already open, you can open it now.
Within Alteryx Designer: Open the workflow with the issue in Alteryx Designer. b. Click on your Input Data or Output Data tool that is experiencing the issue. (Refer to Option 3 above if you are receiving the pop-up error box while connecting to an .xls file for the first time) c. Click the “File Format” drop-down and choose “Microsoft Excel Legacy (*.xlsx)”
d. Data should now display in the preview window and the error should no longer appear if you click off the tool or run the workflow.
We understand this is likely to be a frustrating experience for our users and we are investigating what can be done from the Alteryx side to produce a fix for the issue. We are also following the Microsoft posts to understand what their response will be and if they will take any action toward resolution. Please contact Customer Support to report your experience with this issue, as that will allow us to contact any impacted users directly if and when there is a fix made available.