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Thanks again for attending my live presentation-if you missed it you can watch here. I promised to get to questions that we didn’t have time for in the webinar, AND post my tips and tricks so this will have to be a 2 part post! First, the questions:
Are there data quality/parsing transformations in Alteryx? Absolutely! There is a Text to Columns tool that will allow you to parse text based on specified delimiters. You can also use the Regex tool to parse very complicated strings into separate fields.
Alteryx allows us to export data in .tde format for use in Tableau, but appears not to allow us to bring them back into Alteryx. Do you know any workarounds? Unfortunately, I don't know of a workaround at this time. When I want to make changes to my Tableau data extract, I typically make the changes within Alteryx and refresh the extract when I’m done.
I only discovered a few of these tips and tricks by my efforts alone. The vast majority of this knowledge has come from the fantastic Alteryx community, solutions engineers, ACEs and trainers.
One of the things I love most about Alteryx is the abundance of online resources. Before I ever had any formal training in Alteryx, I was finding answers on my own. No matter what question or problem you may have, the odds are very good that you can find the answer. In the rare event that you can’t find the answer just by searching, you can always post a question to the online community forums. The community members are eager to help and do their best to leave no question unanswered.
Keeping Up to Date the Forums
I’ve discovered the perfect way for me to stay current with what’s happening in the Alteryx online community. If you browse to community.alteryx.com you’ll find 5 categories under Discussions (be sure to sign in while you’re there). Click on one of those categories. Then, under options, select “subscribe”. Repeat these steps for each of the 5 categories. You should now begin receiving an email copy of all posts to the forums. This could quickly become overwhelming, so I organized these updates by creating a folder in my email manager called “Alteryx Community” and setting my filters to automatically send the messages there. This allows me to browse posts at my leisure and easily distinguish read and unread topics.
I also wanted to get a notification on new questions, so that I could provide a response when I had a possible solution. I accomplished this by creating an email rule that looks for the phrases “posted a new topic” or “posted a new idea”, and then flags those messages and copies them to my inbox.
The people in the Alteryx community are very generous with sharing their knowledge, and many of them have blogs which can be helpful in expanding your Alteryx skills. Here are a few of my favorites:
Alteryx has an absolutely stellar support team. When you are faced with a puzzle that you just can’t work out using the forums or blogs, the support team are your superheroes. If you’ve never had the pleasure of chatting with them, try it out some time. They are geniuses, and if they’re unable to completely resolve your issue during the chat session, they’ll follow up with you by email or even schedule a WebEx to walk you through a solution. They have been my lifeline.
When you sign in to the Alteryx Community, in the upper right corner where it says Products, etc., hover over Resources and then select Training. If you’ve not yet discovered what’s on the third tab from the left – Self-Paced Training, you’re in for a treat! These exercises, videos, instructions and examples are so valuable. Even if you are experienced in Alteryx, I highly recommend you start at the beginning and step through these trainings. I was surprised by how much I discovered I didn’t know! Even after you’ve arrived at your solution, you can see how the trainers approached the problem, which then exposes you to easier and more efficient ways of doing things.
Another excellent way to hone your Alteryx skills is by completing the weekly exercises that are posted in the community. As with the Self-Paced Training, all the solutions are posted so you can see how other users approach the process in creative ways. You can find the weekly exercises by going to the Knowledge Base section and using the search box. Regardless of what week it is, start with Week 1! It’s great practice. And if you feel there’s an exercise that was especially challenging, give it another try in a month or two. You may find that you’ve expanded your skillset!
I ran across this book at www.useready.com, and although I haven’t thoroughly read it yet, I did find some real jewels in there, and I was often thinking “I never knew that!” I’m sure there are many other helpful books out there. If you have a favorite, please feel free to share it in the comments section.
Webinars and Hangouts
Did you know that Alteryx hosts regular webinar trainings and hangouts? Under Community-Events there’s a section called Alteryx|Hangout. You can subscribe to that topic to receive email updates on future hangouts. These are a lot of fun and are a great way to get to know some of the community members and get tips and training from experts.
In the Resources section of the Alteryx web site, you can find on-demand webinars or register for upcoming webinars.
On occasion, I’ve watched webinars that I wasn’t sure I would benefit from, like beginner trainings or webinars designed to introduce Alteryx to people who aren’t familiar with it. What I’ve realized is that I can often learn something new just by watching someone else use Alteryx. That’s how I discovered some of the tips I’m sharing in this article.
For instance, when I first heard about using the tool “handles” to browse the input and output of a tool, I always thought it was in reference to the tiny little green handles on the sides of the tool, here:
By watching someone else build a workflow, I discovered that those handles are also in another place, where they’re much larger and easier to click on! They’re on the left of the results window, here:
Thanks, and feel free to post questions in the comment section! I’ll be back next week with part 2.