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Alteryx Knowledge Base

Definitive answers from Designer experts.
Announcement | Looking to expand your Alteryx skillset?! Check out the latest set of interactive lessons in Alteryx Academy: Creating Analytic Apps
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Is there a workaround for not being able to use the Folder Browse Tool in the Gallery? Though it may not be as clean as being able to use the Folder Browse Tool, the simple workaround for this is to use the Text Box Interface Tool instead. This will allow the user to copy a directory path from Windows Explorer and paste it into the Text Box. In the workflow, all you need to do is connect the Text Box Tool to an Output Data Tool and have the Action Tool update the path portion of the Output Data Tool. You can even enter in a default path in the Default Text section of the Text Box if there is a path that is most commonly used.
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You’re creating an app that involves dates. You want the user to be able to dynamically select the dates being used in the app, though. The tools you already know may not work. A  Text Box  would be too messy and allow lots of room for error. Pre-defined  Drop Downs  and  List Boxes  aren’t dynamic enough. Ah ha! What about that tool that looks like a calendar? The  Date  tool in the  Interface  category provides the perfect solution!
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A product idea recently introduced the ability to compare workflows using the command line from Windows. I thought it would be good to turn this idea into a more GUI friendly Alteryx Analytic App!
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The  Radio Button Tool  can be used in a number of ways. This is a simple tool to configure but can be very powerful!
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The  Numeric Up Down Tool  can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your macros and apps. This very simple tool requires just a few seconds to configure and you're on your way!
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The  Filter Tool , which is part of the  Preparation tool category , separates your data into 2 output streams, True and False, based on a basic filter or custom expression.
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For any macro or analytic app – one of the inevitable questions that you may encounter is “how do I configure this to do what I need?” For example, if you build a macro that checks if two fields are equal, but sometimes you want to ignore the case such that “A” equals “a,” and sometimes you want an exact match. This is where the Interface Tool Category comes to the rescue, with a super-tool called Check Box!
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In a workflow, not too far, far away...       Structured data has vanished. In its absence, the sinister Dirty Data Order has risen from the ashes of the Server and will not rest until Data Analytics have been destroyed. With the support of the Alteryx Engineers, Solutions Engineer Tony Moses leads a brave RESISTANCE. He is desperate to find structured data and gain its help in restoring blending, joining and analytics to the galaxy.   Tony has sent his most daring Community Leader, Matt DeSimone, on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to the structured data whereabouts....   Welcome to the Star Wars universe!   Ever wanted to know the most important details of your favorite characters from Star Wars? Me too!    Our generous friends, Paul Hallett and team, have given us the Star Wars API - the world's first quantified and programmatically-accessible store of Star Wars data.   After hours of watching films and trawling through content online, Paul presents us all the People, Films, Species, Starships, Vehicles and Planets from Star Wars.   The data is formatted in JSON and has exposed it to us in a REST implementation that allows us to programmatically collect and measure the data.   Now, how was I able to retrieve this treasure of information via Alteryx? Easy! I've built a REST API connection using the Download Tool to pull information based on a user inputted query in an Alteryx Application (attached as v2018.1 Star Wars.yxwz).   Normally, once having retrieved JSON formatted data, structuring and parsing the data would be a nightmare! With Alteryx, this is just one tool away. The JSON Parse Tool allows you to identify the JSON field, in this case our download data field, and easily extract Name and Value columns. From there it's some simple formatting and using the reporting tools to present us a nice clean composers file (pcxml).   Man, if only the Rebels could process information as fast as Alteryx then they wouldn't have had to send poor R2 to find Obi Wan.    I'll be bringing you, the Alteryx Community, updates of the app with each new movie release!   I hope you enjoy the API and may the Force be with you!
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There’s a lot going on in the world of analytics. Endless data stores and insight are at the other end of an internet connection and, as analysts, we’re always in on the action. Being in the thick of the fray with data whizzing by at lightning speeds, being equipped with the right tools is a must. Like you, Alteryx also likes to live dangerously, and we’re always ready for action.
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Fact: workflows are the best. Look it up. They’re all about getting things done and, with hundreds of tools and the ability to integrate external processes , there’s no shortage of things you can get done. We know that there are some areas of analytics that require a little extra firepower, however, and that’s why you can leverage your workflows in apps and macros for added functionality.
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You just finished making a workflow, now how do you share it so your colleagues can also use it but with their own inputs? Make an Analytic App! To start the process, simply drag an Interface Tool onto the canvas.   In this example, we will take a workflow that converts one file type to another. To change the workflow from a Standard Workflow to an Analytic App, drag a File Browse Tool onto the canvas. This is how users will specify what file they would like to input:      You will notice that once an Interface Tool is placed on the canvas, small lightning bolt anchors appear over the tools. This allows you to connect an Action Tool to the appropriate tool in the workflow; only Interface Tools can connect to these anchors. Connecting the Q (Question) anchor to the lightning bolt anchor (shown above) automatically adds the necessary Action Tool to the canvas. The Interface Tool and Action Tools will need to be configured in order to tell the workflow what needs to be updated. Here is a walkthrough of what each tool does for our example:         For more specifics on each of the Interface Tools, please refer to the Help Documentation.   Configuring the Interface Designer: Now that we have configured all of our Interface and Action Tools, we need to configure what the App looks like to a user. Open the Interface Designer by navigating to View -> Interface Designer (or Control + Alt + D).         The Interface Designer contains 4 views (these correspond to the 4 small icons to the left of the window): Layout View: Here you can add tabs, group inputs together, add text, and rename the inputs Test View: Allows for testing and debug mode Tree View: A hierarchical view of the Interface tools and Actions Properties: Allows for configuration of Outputs, views, and the ability to “chain” applications together For more specifics on the Interface Designer and the various views, please refer to the Help Documentation.   Configuring the Workflow Settings:  As we saw above, adding an Interface Tool to the canvas automatically changes the “type” of workflow from a Standard Workflow to an Analytic App. If for some reason you need to manually do this, you will need to go into the Workflow Configuration settings.   To get here, click on any blank space on the canvas. In the Configuration window, select Workflow -> Type.        Publishing to the Gallery: From the Designer, you can publish to the Public Gallery or a Private Gallery by going to File -> Save As -> and selecting the Gallery of your choice. When published in the gallery, users will only see the App interface of the tool and not the underlying workflow.   For a more detailed walkthrough please see Part 3 of the Alteryx Gallery Series: App Publishing & Version Control 101   *It is not necessary that you publish an Analytic App to the gallery. These are workflows that can be shared just like a Standard Workflow. Users can utilize the App interface by selecting the Magic Wand icon next to the Run icon in the tool bar.    Pro Tips: Analytic Apps are saved as a .yxwz file type When you double click to open an Analytic App, the App interface will automatically open You can encrypt Analytic Apps so the underlying workflow is not visible to users.
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Question Have you ever wanted your own help page for your custom macros or applications? Answer If you create your own macros or applications and send them to other who aren’t as familiar with your project, or if you just need a refresher from time to time, you may try and access the help menu only to be greeted by the general Alteryx macros/apps pages:   Macro Workflows Page Analytics App Workflows Page   You can actually create your own help pages/files that can be accessed how you would normally access the Alteryx Help Menu for any "out of the box" tool that comes with the Designer.   Using your favorite text editor (Microsoft Word, for example), you can create your help file with any instructions or graphics that you feel would be helpful to the end users who may need to access a help file. Once you are done, you can save this in any file format that your (or your users') machine is able to open, as well as any location those users would be able to access (a network drive for example).   In your application or macro’s Interface Designer Properties, there is an option to add the path of a file or hyperlink to your newly created help file.     For an example I created the following help file as a .docx, .pdf, and .htm file type. Each other these files open in their respective default programs.   Word:   PDF:   HTM:
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This article is part of the CS Macro Development Series. The goal of this series is to communicate tips, tricks, and the thought process that goes into developing good, dynamic macros. If you’ve ever built an analytical app and used the Interface Designer (View >> Interface Designer), you’ve probably spent some time in the Test View: This menu provides a great runtime view of the interface as you’re adding and configuring tools and also allows you to interact with them, much like you would when selecting “Run As An Analytical App” in your Designer. You can clear (Reset), save (Save – as an .yxwv analytical app value file), reopen (Open – search for your .yxwv files) and investigate the xml capture of your test values (View – these will initialize to your specified defaults) in here, but the real value is in using the “Open Debug” button to open your app debug workflow: This will create a new module with the workflow that would result from executing all the actions of your interface tools (individual values, tools, even xml, can be updated). You can also see these values, along with an actions log, in a comment box preceding the tools themselves. The workflow will even show you errors if your interface tools created any after updates! This comes in handy as you’re updating detours, opening/closing tool containers, and performing complex updates to your workflows via interface tools because it gives you a snapshot into what, exactly, is happening with each set of Test View values and, in effect, at runtime. For example, in the screen capture of the Test View above, we have the default app (attached as v10.5 App Debugger.yxwz) values. When opening the debug workflow (attached as v10.5 Debug Workflow Default Values.yxmd), we can see the result of them in that our row value is still “Test” and our detour defaults to the right: However, if you update the values in the Test View and reopen the debug workflow with the values below: You’ll see in the new workflow (attached as v10.5 Debug Workflow New Values.yxmd), that our row value is now updated to “DebugTest” and our detour no longer goes to the right:   The above is a simple example of the power of the tool, but using it more often in your troubleshooting will help pinpoint where your errors or conflicts are arising, freeing more time for you to build out more apps!
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Question Did you know that instead of having to choose a save location in the Output Tool, you could leverage the directory that is used to save your temporary files? Answer This can be handy if you are running chained apps locally or have macros that have a file output process. To use temporary space instead of actually writing out a file to a specified location. All you have to do is add the following onto your file name: %temp%..\Output.yxdb. Once you run your workflow you can navigate to your temporary directory (which can be found in System Settings->Engine->General->Temporary Directory) to view your saved file.       The same path you used in the output tool can be used in an input tool to read in the file that is saved to the temporary directory.
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This article is part of the CS Macro Development Series. The goal of this series is to communicate tips, tricks, and the thought process that goes into developing good, dynamic macros. The Detour Tool and its counterpart, the Detour End Tool, are tools that come in handy in building out custom Analytical Apps and Macro workflows when you want to “turn on” or “turn off” entire sections of the workflows based on a user input. While handy, there is an alternative to the approach in using Tool Containers to encapsulate the sections that you’d like to turn on/off and using a Radio Button (or other Interface Tools) and action to “Enable/Disable Container from Condition.” There are other action types that are also useful if you’d like to implement more logic to the enable/disable approach. As long as you conjoin the outputs of each Tool Container to a Union Tool none of your data streams require records to be output, successfully completing your bypass!   Attached is a short v10.5 example of the approach, using Radio Buttons, and the “Update Value with Formula” action to update the “Disabled” attribute of Tool Containers:
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This article is part of the CS Macro Development Series. The goal of this series is to communicate tips, tricks, and the thought process that goes into developing good, dynamic macros.   Implementing APIs into macros isn’t a difficult process, you only need to first understand macros and how they’ll interact with your API requests. In short, a macro gives you the ability to encapsulate just about any repeatable process in an Alteryx workflow as a tool. Understanding that, you only need to identify what in your API request will need to change with each row the process/request is being repeated for, and how to update this request dynamically. With each row of your input data stream, expect to be able to use fields to reference what individual values will be – doing so in a formula tool will build out parts of the request that change with each record. If instead you need to update an argument of the request just once for all your records, try using an interface tool and a place-holding value. Need to update parts of a request for only certain records? You can use formula logic or the batch macro’s control parameter approach.   Consider the Google Maps Geocoding API request format below:   If we were to send a request to their API to geocode a single address (specifying an xml output), this would look like: https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/xml?address=1600+Amphitheatre+Parkway,+Mountain+View,+CA&key=YOUR_API_KEY To update this dynamically, within a macro, we need only to map our input fields to their appropriate places in the request, emulating the rest of the request syntax with formula logic: "https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/xml?"+"address="+replace([Address]," ","+")+"+"+[City]+"+"+[State]+"+"+[Zip]+"&key="+"X" (the replace function exchanges spaces for + characters, the remainder of the + characters are added as literal strings to mirror the format above) Then only updating our key remains before passing this to a Download Tool, and this will be the same for all our input rows:           The v10.5 example above is attached for reference. It is an adaptation of a more robust Google Maps Geocoder hosted on our gallery.   Please note that in order to use this macro, you must first generate a server key from the Google Developers Console. Each key has a limit of 2,500 free requests per day. Click here for more information on usage limits for the Google Maps API.   This macro demonstrates requests to Google Maps' web service API and is meant as a proof of concept only. It is not intended for production use.
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This is part 2 of my Interface Designer series. Click here for part 1 (Macros and the basics):   This article will focus on the options specific to Analytic Apps. The majority of the Interface Designer options are the same for Apps and Macros including the Layout View, the Test view, and the Tree view.   One feature to point out that is very handy for Analytic Apps is on the Test view window. When testing your App using the debug option, a cool feature is the ability to save the your test values so that you can quickly bring them back later without having to re-enter every time. In the "App Values" section on the right hand side of the Test view you'll see the option to Reset, Save, Open, and View.   Enter in your test values and click Save to save a file locally with the values you're using. The next time you want to test, simply click the Open button and point to the file to save yourself some time.   Properties: The main difference in the Interface Designer between Macros and Apps will be found in the Properties view.  The first difference is the option to have the App run a second app when it completes. This is Chained App where you just specify the name of the 2nd app in that box and it will automatically call it up. This allows you to set up a process to format a file and then run the analysis.   You'll also see an option to have the App return results to the user. This is helpful especially when running Apps on the Gallery so the user can see the results of their runs. When you select the check box for "On Success - Show Results to User" you can then select the output tools (Render and/or Output Data tools for Gallery runs) to return the results to the user so they can save them locally.   You can create custom output and/or no output messages, and upload a graphic to be used in the interface itself (running on the desktop only, won't show in the Gallery).          
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The Interface Designer is an often missed piece of setting up custom Macros.  To enable the Interface Designer go to View - Interface Designer. Note that nothing will show in this window unless your process is saved as a .yxmc or .yxwz (Macro or Analtyic App).    First the basics: The Interface Designer has 4 main views, designated by icons running down the left side of the window:     From the top down the views are: Layout View - shows you the interface the end user will see when setting up the tool in their workflow Test View - Allows you to enter values for your "Questions" to debug potential errors in the macro/app Tree View - If you created macros or apps prior to version 9.0, this will be familiar to you as it is the old way of setting up your questions and actions. Properties - Allows you to set specific characteristics about your macro/app   For this article we are going to focus on the Layout View, Test View, and Properties.   Layout: The layout view is pretty simple. It shows you what the user will see when configuring your macro. From this view, you can also reorder your questions, or create nested groups depending on the interface tools you are using. You can also add tabs and label boxes for a more custom feel.    Use the "Add" drop down to add a label, group box, link, and/or tab to your interface.You can edit the text seen by the user in the standard configuration window.   Group Box - Adds a box so you can nest questions together Label - Adds custom text to the Interface Link - Add a URL to a website or a file with a relative path. Webpage must be a full URL Tab - Adds a tab to the interface. Can split up questions based on section of macro.   Use the arrows on the right hand side to move questions up or down, or between tabs (left and right).   Test: The Test view allows you to enter sample values to test the configuration of your macro. You can enter responses to your questions and then enter the  Debug mode to ensure  your Actions are handling the responses correctly.   When you click Open Debug you'll notice that a new workflow opens with a text comment box at the top. If you scroll down you will see you macro tools but will notice the Interface tools are not there. Click on any tool that an Action is connected to to ensure the value entered in the Test view window has come through properly. If there are any errors, you will see the standard error icon.   Properties: The first option in the Properties view for macros is to change the icon. Each tool in Alteryx has it's own Icon, and the base color/shape correspond to the category the tool fits in. All of these base icons are available in when selecting the Standard Icon option. Use the drop down arrow to expand the window and scroll through available standard options.     You can also set up a custom icon by selecting that radio button. Using the Custom Icon allows you to either create an image outside of Alteryx, or perhaps use a company logo, to represent your macro.   Another common setting used in Macros is how the output records will be formatted. The default setting is expecting every iteration of output having the exact same schema, and Alteryx will throw an error if they are different.    If your schema may change based on the data being fed into the macro, select the check box indicating that, and then choose a method to align the fields: Similar to the Union tool, you can have macro Auto configure the fields by name or position allowing for greater flexibility with your data. These options can be particularly helpful when using the Dynamic Input tool within your macro to open multiple files. These settings should allow the macro to continue opening files regardless of if the schema changes or if field names are slightly different.   The final option in the Properties view is not used nearly as often but allows the user to create a custom Help file or link to be included with the macro.   Note: Screen shots taken from version 10.5.    
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The Geography Analysis Collection (GAC) is a collection of user-friendly applications, or apps, that perform spatial analyses while leveraging demographic and firmographic data for business insights.  The GAC allows subscribers to this particular gallery collection to quickly and easily produce maps and reports for selected geographies using five different apps.  One such app is the Market Analysis app, which considers both current conditions and future projections when assessing the desirability of a particular market.  This app leverages Experian, US Census and D&B datasets to highlight demographic and firmographic trends in both map and report format for a particular geography.    Users are given a great deal of flexibility in deciding how to designate the spatial area of interest for mapping and reporting.  With both pre and user-defined options for geographic inputs, app users have many options for determining the spatial inputs to the app.  Each option, however, has certain configuration aspects that may make the difference between an error message and a successful app run.        Spatial Input Unlike most of the other apps in the GAC, the Market Analysis app requires a polygon as its spatial input as opposed to point features.  The Market Analysis app’s geographic input may be pre-defined using one of the app’s embedded options or user-defined.  Pre-defined inputs use Experian’s geographic units as the spatial input (Figure 1A).  Users can select up to 500 geographies that include areas such as Census Tracts, Counties, Congressional Districts and Zip Codes, among others.  Pre-defined geographies may also be combined into a single unit, thereby summarizing the results for multiple geographic units into a single unit.  Users may also define a particular geography to run through the app by creating a polygon on the interactive map (Figure 1B) or by loading in a file that contains polygons for the area of interest (Figure 1C).  For both of these instances, the polygon must have a name that is either entered via interface prompts (using the interactive map) or as a field (uploading a file).  User-defined files can include Esri shape files (.shp), GoogleEarth files (.kml), Database files (.dbf) and Excel files (.xlsx)*.       *Multi-part files, such as ESRI shapefiles, must include all spatial components in a zipped file (e.g., .DBF, .PRJ, .SHP, .SHX).      Figure 1: Spatial inputs to the Market Analysis app can be pre-defined (A) or user-defined (B and C).    A subscription is required to access the Geography Analysis Collection. Contact sales@alteryx.com to learn more!
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Alteryx Analytic Applications (Apps) are very useful.  They let us take a process, parameterize parts of it, and add an interface so that end users don't need to know all of the inner workings of the process in order to make it work for their specific scenario.  We can even take an app and publish it to an Alteryx Gallery so the process can be shared with someone who doesn't even have Alteryx installed on their machine.    A common question we hear from app builders is, "how do I make the choices presented for one interface question depend on a previously answered interface question?".   This is primarily accomplished by chaining multiple apps together such that the results from App #1 dynamically provide the options for a drop down or listbox question in App #2. Step 1 and Step 2 in the attached package provide an example.   What if the question you want to update is not a drop down or listbox?  You can actually use App #1 to dynamically update the raw XML controlling the question (or any tool) in App #2 prior to presenting the questions of App #2 to the user.  Step 2 and Step 3 in the attached package provide an example.     Less often, we are asked how we can create what I like to call a "feedback loop" in the interface.  This involves the user of the app filling out a set of questions, seeing some result from those questions, and deciding whether to continue forward or go back to modify their initial selections. This can be accomplished using the same idea of modifying the XML to dynamically decide which app becomes the next link of the chain in a process.  Step 3 in the attached package is an example that will either move on to a real step 4 if the user is happy with the results from Steps 1-3 or will loop back to Step 2 so the user can modify their initial selections.  They can continue in the loop, modifying their selections in Step 2 over and over until they are satisfied with the results and choose to move on to step 4.     The attached package (created using Alteryx 10) contains an example for each of these options with a few notes calling out the different examples.   Please note that both options involving modification of an app's XML will not work in an Alteryx Gallery because any app run by the gallery must be verified by the server ahead of time and there is no way to build this verification step into the app.      
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