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Have you ever built an Alteryx App only to realize that some part of the process must remain in Excel? Instead of abandoning your Alteryx App all together, you may be able to use the Alteryx API and call your app from Excel. We’ve put together all the necessary VBA code so that it should be quick and easy for you to call an Alteryx App from Excel and get the results back. The Alteryx app for our sample, API Tester.yxzp, has been included in case you want to upload it to your private gallery and test out the Excel to Alteryx API using your Alteryx server.
SAMPLE EXCEL FILE - Input
We are going to be working with the attached “Reverse String.xlsm” to demonstrate the API. Suppose you wanted to reverse a string in excel (“Hello World” should be converted to “dlroW olleH”). You can’t quite get it in Excel, but you could quickly use the ReverseString function in Alteryx. Now the only trick is getting your data from Excel to Alteryx and back to Excel. We’ll have the user enter the string on cell E5 and then hit the Run Alteryx Button. Cell E6 will then be the results we get back from Alteryx
HOW TO SETUP THE VBA
When working with the Alteryx API, you need to setup some settings/configurations in your excel file before you can deploy it. If you open up the VBA editor (Alt + F11), there is Sub called Doer where we will have to enter a few key settings that apply to your Alteryx App. This is a one time setup for each different application that you setup.
strKey – this is your unique Alteryx Key. It is unique to all the apps in your private studio. It can be found here for the Alteryx public gallery
strSecret – this is your unique Alteryx Secret. It is unique to all the apps in your private studio. It can be found here for the Alteryx public gallery
strAppID – this is your app’s unique ID. When you look at your app in a browser, the appID is the unique ID at the end of the URL. For our sample, our AppID “589b70eceffc2a0bb0a2d530” can be found at the end of the App’s URL
AlteryxURL – this is the base URL where the app resides. For the public gallery, it is : https://gallery.alteryx.com. You would switch this your URL if you were going to use your private gallery. A private gallery would be of the format resembling: https://server.domain.com/gallery.
Data – Any data that needs to be passed from Excel to Alteryx can be saved as string variables in the VBA. For our simple app, we’re only passing one item, the string that we want reversed. In order to pass more complex data, we’ve found it easier to save the data to a .csv and then have the Alteryx App read the .csv as part of the app.
strQuery – This is the entire set of information that is being sent from Excel to the API for processing. It’s in JSON format. For each item, you need a name and value. The name corresponds to the interface tool’s name in your Alteryx App. The value corresponds to the value that want to set. From our Alteryx App, you can see that we’ve given our textbox tool the name “input_string”. For the value, we’ll be passing whatever string the user enters into excel.
To see all the questions for a given app, the API documentation is immensely helpful. After you enter your key and secret, you would go to the second GET, type in the appID, and then try it out to get a list of the name value pairs that we must send from Excel to Alteryx. Note that you only send the name and value fields from the response body.
Save – This variable is a Yes or No answer for whether or not you want to save the data coming back from Alteryx. In this case we would say Yes. For more complex apps, we may have our Alteryx workflow save the data to a network folder that our excel VBA would go grab once Alteryx is done. That post run coding would be added under the Part_Deux sub in the VBA editor. There we would have Save=”No”
Output_Name – this is the column name of the output data that we want to retrieve from Alteryx. In our sample, the column Name is “Output_String”. This only applies if Save=”Yes”
SaveLocation – this is the cell range where the output should be written. This process currently only supports writing one cell of data back to excel. Anything more complicated should be handled through custom VBA in the Part_Deux sub. This only applies if Save=”Yes”
NOTES ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES
While I won’t go through everything that is going on in the background, here are some key points:
Ensure that you have references to Microsoft XML, 6.0 if any errors pop up.
The VBA takes all the settings and adds the time and a random string before posting a request to the Alteryx Server to run the job in the RunAlteryx sub. It has to combine all these items, URL encode certain parts, create a base64 hash, and send this to the Alteryx server in just the right order.
It then makes a Get request to check the status. If the status is complete, then the VBA moves on to get the results; otherwise, the VBA creates another request to check the status in 1 second. Note that Excel will be operational during this time since it’s not during any work. This loop will continue until the status is either completed or error. Note that it will update the status on the bottom left of your screen to indicate that Excel is waiting on Alteryx to run the job.
Once the Alteryx app returns a completed status, the VBA will then make another get request for the output that you’ve requested (only if save=”Yes”). If Save=”Yes”, the VBA then saves the output to the specified cell.
If you want to write any of your own code that should execute when the code is done, place it in the part_Deux sub. For example, perhaps you have a private server setup where the Server will write an output file to a network folder that excel can read in from. The code in part_Deux might look something like the below:
Dim ActBook As Workbook
Dim FromAlteryx As String
FromAlteryx = "\\server\" + Environ$("username") + "_out.csv"
Set ActBook = ThisWorkbook
On Error GoTo 0
Selection.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlPasteValues, Operation:=xlNone, SkipBlanks _
Workbooks(Environ$("username") + "_out.csv").Close
SAMPLE EXCEL FILE - Output
Assuming we have everything setup correctly, our app should return the reverse of the string that is input:
Question The below question was originally asked in the Discussion boards and comes up somewhat frequently from Server users:
Where I'm left scratching my head is how to best set up Gallery, manage permissions, and manage schedules. In an ideal world, I guess I'd see it going like this:
Developers create workflows & upload to private gallery
Admin (me) updates connection strings and performs cursory review before moving it into a shared area. Developers should be prevented from doing this.
QA team reviews and gives signoff.
Admin (me) moves to a shared area (a collection?) and schedules the workflow as needed. Developers sho uld be prevented from doing this.
Is this approach feasible given the functionality of Gallery? For now, it seems somewhat all-or-nothing to me. If I make somebody an Artisan, it seems like they can publish things to the gallery, schedule workflows, etc. But I may be completely missing something here.
Also, I'm using Windows authentication and I don't see any way to add users to a Subscription. There's literally no button below the Artisans & Members boxes. How do I do this?
Answer The below answer was provided KoryC:
What you're wanting to do is very similar to what we see other customers looking to accomplish - essentially, better and more granular control over what users can do within given projects, and a promotion process of workflows. Today, our Gallery does indeed, as you mention, provide the artisan access as a sort of all or nothing type of deployment. So unfortunately, the level of access control you're looking for today is not yet available, but it is on our roadmap and something we are actively looking at for a future release - this is one of our top priorities.
So today, the best approach is indeed to make those developers artisans. Yes, this will enable them to make things public or share them even if they shouldn't, but there are still administrative capabilities, such as removal of workflows, that can help in case such accidents or activities occur.
And as for the user-to-studio management in Windows Auth mode - we're looking to get that button added for an upcoming release, and on top of that, taking a good look and building out some better and easier ways of managing users in Windows Auth mode in general, much in alignment with how we want to make user and gallery management easier in the future.
Let me know if this helps. I know it's not the ideal answer you'd want today, but we are looking to make some significant improvements here. I'd also greatly appreciate any time you may have to go over features like this and to get more direct feedback in the future too!
As far as your question regarding Windows Auth vs. Built-in - no, it's not required to use built-in for subscription artisans (though members don't make much sense in a Windows Auth environment). It is, however, trickier to manage, as you've discovered. The facilities for managing studios-to-users in Windows Auth are lacking at the moment, and it's an area we're looking to improve. Copying and editing the subscription key is indeed the only way. And yes, only one subscription per user - though this is another area we are looking at expanding upon in the future.
There is a button in v10.5 to add artisans to a studio, but not for members, which will likely ultimately go away, at least with Windows Authentication deployments.
For more information about Gallery Administration and setup, take a look at the following article. The link goes to the first of a four part article series:
Alteryx Gallery Administration