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Engine Works

Under the hood of Alteryx: tips, tricks and how-tos.
Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

The fundamentals of Alteryx are easy to grasp through the training offerings, your past experience with data techniques and your own intuition.  However there is no substitute for sitting down and having to think your way through a problem.  Because people problem solve in different ways and have different levels of experience with the tools in Alteryx, nearly every solution will vary in one way or another.


The weekly exercises we are posting provide a great way for users to cross train and collaborate on different ways to solve problems.   I am aware of at least one company in the UK with multiple Alteryx users that are using the exercises to cross train each other on solutions and best practices.  They get together in small groups and review each other’s solutions.


Many of the exercises are born from actual business problems faced by our customers.  Others are intended to introduce the use of a less common tool.  For example the first week’s assignment  highlighted the use of the generate rows tool.  Often direct joins or conditional joins are difficult depending on the condition of the input data.  Creating a new row for every value in a range can make the join possible then data can be reduced back down in a later step in the process.  It is all about thinking your way through the problem.


This week’s exercise is focused on parsing out some unneeded characters and splitting data using a delimiter.  A similar process was used recently to help a customer with a bad CSV file.  In that case the file could not be read past a bad row due to extra commas in random rows of the data.  To get around the error we read the file as text into Alteryx using no delimiter (\0), then split the columns in a later step using a text to columns tool.  The result was being able to read the entire file in, and then finding the bad rows using a filter on the “extra” column.


Make sure you never miss an exercise. They are all labeled with “Exercise” in the Alteryx Knowledge Base. You can subscribe to this label and you will get a notification each time we add a new one.



Let us know what you think of exercises. You can leave comments on the posts and give stars. Each Monday we will post a new one as well as upload the solution for the previous Exercise. Next week we will introduce an intermediate level exercise.