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Tool Mastery | Select

Alteryx
Alteryx
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Select.pngThis article is part of the Tool Mastery Series, a compilation of Knowledge Base contributions to introduce diverse working examples for Designer Tools. Here we’ll delve into uses of the Select Tool on our way to mastering the Alteryx Designer:

 

The Select Tool within the Alteryx Designer is the equivalent of your High School Sweetheart. Always there when you needed them and helped you find out more about yourself. The Select Tool can do exactly this by showing you the data type and structure of your data, but it also gives you the flexibility to change aspects of your dataset.

 

  • The Select Tool has utility to change every data type in Alteryx – numerics, strings, spatial objects & date time.
  • One of the more popular numeric data types is the Fixed Decimal; this data type will allow you to specify a certain level of accuracy for your numeric values. This is particularly important when looking at currency or total summations due to rounding up.
  • The various Int values are a way to capture and improve the speed of processing by reducing the string length of the numeric fields. 
  • If you have more complex special characters within your string fields (for example Chinese characters) you have the ability to choose a V_W String which can bring those characters through.
  • Other than data types the Select Tool will allow you to manipulate the appearance of your data through renaming fields, reordering fields, and de-selecting fields. 

Pic 1.png

 

  •  One of the select functionalities which a lot of people miss is the ability to save the complete configuration of a Select Tool. The reason you may want to choose this option is to import the select configuration of a similar data set as a starting point for configuring another dataset. You can also use this feature if you have a new workflow and copying the Select Tool itself is not a possibility.  

 

Pic 2.png

 

  • Checking the Dynamic /Unknown field allows new (or unexpected) fields to come in, and you have the ability to determine where these new fields will be placed in the file by moving this field's position. It's checked by default in the configuration properties, so if you do not want to allow new fields into your data stream just deselect.
  • The Field Type: Forced option will allow you to ensure an incoming field type will always be consistent by specifying a forced type. This can help in macro configuration.

 

To learn more about data types, be sure to check out our Community Live Training video Understanding Data Types!

 

By now, you should have expert-level proficiency with the Select Tool! If you can think of a use case we left out, feel free to use the comments section below! Consider yourself a Tool Master already? Let us know at community@alteryx.com if you’d like your creative tool uses to be featured in the Tool Mastery Series.

 

Stay tuned with our latest posts every Tool Tuesday by following Alteryx on Twitter! If you want to master all the Designer tools, consider subscribing for email notifications.

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Moderator
Moderator

Great article! One of my personal favorite uses of the Select tool is to remove or add a prefix or suffix. An example of this is something I came across many times in my previous job:

 

I have two monthly sales files from different years. I want to compare the delta for each month between years. So, I joined the two files together by, in this case, the store numbers. Since the field names are the same for each year, the right joined field names all get "Right_" appended to them as a prefix. All I have to do is select those fields in a Select tool, go to Options > Remove Prefix, and make the appropriate choice of the prefix to remove. Then, while the fields are still selected, I will add a prefix, such as "LastYear_", and then I will select the fields from the left join, and add a prefix such as "CurrentYear_".