Engine Works

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



Hello! My name is Claire. I first wrote these tips for a session I presented in 2023 at Inspire, Alteryx’s annual conference. This content was so well-received that I wanted to provide links for further learning and make it available to the entire Maveryx Community through an article. 


Why write about superusers? I’m excited about developing superusers because I myself am a recent superuser. My Alteryx journey started while I was in university, less than two years before being inducted as an Alteryx ACE in 2022. The ACE program is a nomination-based recognition for Alteryx’s top experts, advocates, and thought leaders among global Maveryx. You can read more about us here. I also hold two of Alteryx’s most challenging certifications, Alteryx Expert and Predictive Master. 


How in the world did I rise from user to superuser so quickly?! A significant contributor was learning about implementing the topics I’ve assembled in this article. I hope my summary here is useful for you, and I’d love to hear about your superuser journey!




Before we get to the practical tips, I have a few acknowledgments.


First, this is not a formula. Becoming a superuser involves more than implementing these three tips. That being said, implementing one or more of these tips will most definitely improve your Alteryx-solving skills and data analyst/data engineer/software engineering skills.


Secondly, these tips are not exhaustive. I’ve worked to distill much of what I’ve learned from the Alteryx ACEs over the last two years into this list. I’m sure there are important topics I’ve missed! If there’s anything else that’s helped you along your superuser journey, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to put it in the comments below.


Lastly, this is a collection of other people’s ideas. Many of these topics come from hours spent learning from Alteryx ACEs and other experienced voices around the technology community. 


Practical Tips


Tip #1: Incorporate Workflow Strategy


This tip is so significant that I wrote an additional Inspire breakout session dedicated to it and split each strategy into an article. Why is it so significant? 


1. Using workflow strategies in your workflows will increase the quality of your workflow. Better workflows mean a better work life! Fewer frantic pings about workflows breaking, fewer times having to modify your workflows to incorporate new scenarios, and more peaceful vacations while your team can easily use and debug your workflows.


2. These workflow strategies are applicable across all technology contexts and programming languages. Alteryx Designer is a great way to learn these principles since the Designer canvas makes it so easy to visualize. Even when you need to use an unfamiliar technology, this ability to analyze context to identify the most important considerations and risk factors will be directly applicable.


3. When you need to use an unfamiliar technology, you’ll likely use generative AI and/or coding experts to write the code. Understanding and applying these strategies are your human value-add! AI can currently write functioning code, and soon it will be able to write great code. However, it’s up to you to recognize important, non-quantifiable factors like the personality of your stakeholders and risk factors in your industry. Until AI can analyze your entire corporation, industry, and work life, building with workflow strategy will remain a human value-add.


There are four common strategies I have identified over the last few years. There are more strategies than these four, but they should give you a foundation for starting to think with this framework.


The articles below contain lists of tips and resources for learning more about the strategies of generalizability, scalability, and maintainability. There’s a key question that you can use to analyze your everyday workflows through these perspectives.


Here are the links for your convenience:


  • Generalizability (coming soon)
  • Scalability (coming soon)
  • Maintainability (coming soon)


Tip #2: Consider the Big Picture


Key question: “Where do I still touch this process?”


Research how Alteryx can automate the beginning, middle, and end of processes.


Automate and standardize your workflows in order to modify them less and get the most value out of any time you spend modifying them. 



Tip #3: Challenge Yourself


The final tip is to challenge yourself by learning more and exploring outside of your normal use cases. In the words of an old Alteryx motto, “Never stop learning!” Below are some of my favorite suggestions for intermediate and advanced users to learn more. 


Intermediate Users


1. Solve weekly challenges. The Maveryx community team and users from around the world assemble an analytics problem available for solving. These challenges range from easy to difficult and involve a variety of tool palettes. This can be a great way to explore a new set of tools outside your normal business case. Find a challenge involving spatial data or APIs, for example. Take them at your pace and use them to learn!


2. Read Alteryx blog and Knowledgebase articles. If you’re reading this article, you’ve managed to find a blog! Did you know that Alteryx has four blogs where Alteryx employees and knowledgeable users from around the community regularly post new content? My personal favorite is Engine Works. Try subscribing to one or more blogs, and you’ll learn all kinds of new information over time!


3. Open, understand, and use common macros such as the CReW Macros or your company’s internal macros. The CReW macros are a well-known and trusted set of community-expert-built macros for common use cases. They are available for download on the CReW blog. The macro package download link is available in this Alteryx article. (CReW is a reference to a historic version of Alteryx where certain errors would result in the following message: Chaos reigns within. Repent, reflect, and reboot. Order shall return.) While they are very useful for building workflows, I’d recommend right-clicking on any of these macros to open them. Look through them and start to learn how they work! There are a handful of newer CReW macros available only on the Marketplace:


4. Study for the Certifications 

  • Core: This two-hour exam encompasses the foundational tools within Alteryx Designer. It’s a great way to strategically study the basics and grow your experience with Alteryx Designer. All of the resources are available for free on the community! You can find more links in the prep guide
  • Advanced: This two-hour exam currently involves spatial analytics, report-building, macros, and analytic apps within Designer. Here are links to the prep guide, interactive lessons, and recorded training sessions, all available for free on the community.
  • Expert: This is a very challenging three-hour exam that pushes the limits of your fast problem-solving skills within Designer and ability to learn new tools. In my opinion, one of the most difficult aspects of the exam is time management.


5. Get involved with a local Alteryx User Group. Did you know that Alteryx users meet up quarterly in all corners of the world to learn and network? This is a great chance to grow your skill, meet some cool people, and be inspired by the art of the possible on a regular basis. It’s free!


Advanced Users


1. Looking for a new challenge? Do the weekly challenges feel a bit too easy? I invite you to try Advent of Code. It’s a December daily coding challenge originating in the programming community. While weekly challenges are designed to be solved in Designer, AoC challenges are not. The problems range from medium difficulty to extra, extra hard. 


I offer you this chart as proof of the difficulty: it shows the fastest solution time in hours for each day from the 2022 and 2021 challenges. Keep in mind that these are some of the fastest solvers and Alteryx experts from around the world (including at least three former Grand Prix champions), racing to solve. 😂 Times greater than 3 hours are not fully displayed on the graph and generally took several days to find a viable solution.




Joshua explains the rules and how to join the community of Alteryx solvers in his article here. The 2024 challenge is coming in December, so watch the community in late November for a similar article with the leaderboard invite. The previous years’ challenges are available on demand on the AoC website linked here


2. Write Alteryx Engine Works and Tool Mastery articles. If you have a particular use case where you’ve saved your company significant time or money, we’d love to cheer you on! If you have a specific area of expertise within the platform, we’d love to learn from you. 


3. Openunderstand, & use workflow XML. Every Alteryx workflow is secretly just plain text in XML format that the software can read and pass configurations to the engine. By learning to use this data format, you will be unstoppable!


4. Move from low-code to code-friendly. Learn Python or PowerShell, at least enough to debug and optimize the code ChatGPT writes. You can insert code into Alteryx workflows through the Python tool or Run Command (DocumentationVideo). Another idea is to experiment with Custom SDK macros. 


5. Lead, speak at, or start a local Alteryx User Group. Alteryx user groups are always looking for more leaders and speakers! If you have a favorite design pattern or use case, reach out to your local user group’s leaders through the Maveryx community or Linkedin. You can find the leaders’ names on that User Group’s page on the community. 




By incorporating these three tips into your everyday workflow building, you will advance closer to becoming a superuser. 


  • Incorporating workflow strategy (generalizability, scalability, and maintainability) will help you build higher quality workflows and keep your human value-add even while AI can write code. 
  • Automating and standardizing your workflows will optimize the amount of time you spend modifying workflows, saving you time to focus on your human value-add and future problem solving. 
  • Challenging yourself will grow your skill and introduce you to new, exciting topics that might be your next favorite adventure.


Thanks for your time and attention, and I hope these tips are useful for you! I’m excited to hear about your journey from user to superuser. 🤩

16 - Nebula
16 - Nebula

Very thoughtful and thorough, @clmc9601

17 - Castor
17 - Castor

Hi @clmc9601 

Great article. At least, I spent a lot of time in AoC every December😂

I would like to your subsequent article!

12 - Quasar

Outstanding content. Thanks for putting this together Claire!