Learn more about the Alteryx Maveryx Universe recently announced at Inspire 2023!

Engine Works

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

This article is the 3rd chapter of a 3 part series. Part 1 discusses your preparation. Part 2 emphasizes the preparation of the workflow. This part focuses on the final enrichment using visual effects.


Series Agenda

  1. Part 1: Prepare yourself and your audience
    1. Identify and write down the value for your audience.
    2. Select your battle. You can not focus on everything; what is your priority?
    3. Never start a demonstration by a huge and complex workflow.

  2. Part 2: Prepare your workflow
    1. Prepare an easy-to-read title.
    2. Align, distribute, ventilate & activate the "Wifi"
    3. Frame the functional module of your workflow.
    4. Complementary colors are less aggressive.
    5. Find a way to explain the workflow in almost one sight.
    6. Annotations to help understanding
    7. Macros & containers to minimize the complexity.
    8. Pre-execute the workflow!

  3. Part 3: Enrich your workflow with visual effects
    1. Pictures with effects to highlight hidden information or important steps
    2. Hidden containers to display additional information in one click
    3. Be fun and creative using background; try your company's branding and logos


For the record we are here to convince Jessica, your manager, that Alteryx is a huge solution in your context. You want to be sure that the value you see is highlighted by the visual of your workflow.


1. Pictures with effects to highlight hidden information or important steps

To help Jessica understand the context that is sometimes not obvious for a beginner, put an image in a Comment tool. You know what is behind an Input Data or Output Data tool. Jessica does not. It just looks like a green box.


For instance, you can add an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or application logo, a screen shot of the output or intermediate result, or a graphic… all information that you could tell or show with a simple click, but you want the audience to understand by themselves in case they miss your explanation.





  • Ah OK the source is my ERP”.
  • Ah OK you are generating a dashboard.
  • Ah OK I understand what the purpose of this part is.

Do not hesitate to use images that explain the logic of the workflow without having to click everywhere.





Here for example we have four main geospatial operations. Visually understanding them is far more easy than looking at the four Browse tools or examining the tools' configurations. Putting a screen shot of the data source can also be a way to help them understand what you are trying to do.


If you remember the advice “Find a way to explain the workflow in almost one sight” this is a good approach to explain quickly the logic of your process.


Tip: To quickly have a good looking PNG picture, use the pre-packaged image effect in PowerPoint.

First, paste your image in PowerPoint:



Next, apply a lovely effect (frames, shadow, bevel...):



Next, save it as an image and it will generate a PNG (transparent background):




Next, import it into a Comment tool without shape:




As this is a PNG, the background is transparent = very nice effect that fits to any color background.

2. Hidden containers to display additional information in one click

When you think that some complementary information is needed to highlight your presentation, just do a screen shot and include it directly within the workflow within a Container.


It will make the presentation more smooth (no need to switch to and from one of your 126 applications open in your background) and show some interesting documentation features of Alteryx.




3. Be fun and creative using backgrounds

We are so used to having a white background that we do not even realize that there is a huge visual potential using customized backgrounds. Alteryx is not doomed to look like a vintage tool 😉


You can even set an image as a background and build your real workflow on top of it. Very impactful, but of course to be used carefully and sparingly regarding your audience 😊












Snifff… this is the end 😪


I am confident that, thanks to you, Jessica is seeing the value  😃





Last reminder, these articles are not talking about best practices implementation, or maintainability of the workflow. It only focus on making the workflow looks nice, clean, shiny...


Most of all, I am really looking forward to using this article to entice you to share your tips and screenshots of your visually impactful workflow!!


Enjoy Alteryx


Note: You can find the first two chapters here: