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Engine Works

Under the hood of Alteryx: tips, tricks and how-tos.
ACE Emeritus
ACE Emeritus

I must admit, I don’t have the most Alteryx years under my belt – actually, not even close, compared to some of the other ACEs. However, I have been using Alteryx for three and a half years, and I am in a business where time is of the essence. Also, I am the type that gets impatient when things move slowly – even when I’m helping others (probably a trait I could improve). Basically, what I am saying above is: I like to go FAST FAST FAST.


I will try to show benchmarks – please note these are dummy workflows and thus might not completely translate, so please do take it with a grain of salt. Also note that some of these might be better to execute In-DB, but that will be for another blog post. Speaking of, you should try out In-DB-tools! Here is a great video to get you started.


Learn the Basics – Learn Your Shortcuts!


Shortcuts are essential when wanting to be productive – especially if you combine them with other tips. As an added bonus, you will be more efficient with your keyboard, and your wrist will thank you.


Alteryx Specific Shortcuts


CTRL+R – Run your workflow (when we get runtime to under 3 seconds, you will appreciate it and run often)

CTRL+SHIFT+B – Add all browses – this is especially useful for joins and filters

CTRL + - – Aligns tools horizontally

CTRL + + – Aligns tool vertically


General Shortcuts


CTRL+C – Copy (text, tools and outputs)

CTRL+V – Paste (text, tools and outputs)

CTRL+X – Cut (text, tools and inputs)


The above shortcuts are fundamental when trying to be more productive!


Don’t Use More Data Than Needed for Building Workflows


Building workflows with millions of records is usually not a good idea unless you like to wait, drink coffee, and annoy your colleagues (joking, but not really?). Here are a couple of tricks that will help you out:


Record Limit:

Full dataset: 1:06 minutes...

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1000 rows: 1.4 seconds...

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What About Joins You Ask?

One of the issues with the above method is that the first 1000 rows are not necessarily the ones that match. That’s why I like to have a “TempData” folder. See how I use it in the below video:


Or you could just use the new cache dataset functionality (if available in your version):


Filter Early and Deselect Unnecessary Columns


As above, it is all about building smart workflows – thus you should try to filter and deselect unnecessary columns as early as possible. Keep in mind that it makes a huge difference how much data you are streaming through the workflow.


Focus on the Task at Hand


I am a huge fan of dividing workflows into sections to keep focus. Further, it enables you to run sub-processes without having to run the whole process. Here is an example of a workflow that is divided:


  1. Load Data and Join Together


2. Analysis

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3. Push to Database and File

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Make Sure to Have a Quick Connection to Data When Building


As I mentioned, time is of the essence. When developing workflows, I like to make sure the connection is as fast as possible (even though it might not be the final connection). The process is the same as “What About Joins You Ask?” – if the .yxdb file is faster than pulling from the database, it is best to pull from the .yxdb while developing.


Disable the “Pop Up Dialog at Completion of Workflow”


It is just unnecessary and annoying:

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Learn More About Your Flows Using “Performance Profiling”


In the Workflow Runtime setting you can enable “Performance Profiling” which will allow you to see how long each tool takes to execute. This will often give you a great indication of where you can improve your workflow.

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If you would like more inspiration, you can also read 24 Best Practices for Moving from Ad-Hoc Analysis to Enterprise Production.


I hope the above tips & tricks will leave you with even more time for your family and loved ones – please let me know if you find something particularly useful or if you have something to add.