This blog post was inspired by my Training on Thursdays at Three session about Alteryx Analytical Apps at the Data School. Interface Tools used in Analytical Apps can generally be categorised by their purpose. For example, tool types that work as file inputs, spatial object inputs, user inputs, multi-select options, testing and error messages. In this blog post, I will discuss how to use interface tools without anchor connectors. I also cover List Box and Tree tools that have more complex setup requirements. For a complete guide to using Interface Tools in Alteryx, visit this Alteryx help page



You Don’t Necessarily Need Anchor Connectors!!!


Example Workflow showing Interface Tool without connectors



At first glance, this looks just like any other analytical app that updates the formula tool with user input from a Text Box. However, I have neither make an anchor connection nor force connections to be wireless.





Results of workflow



Yet, the results from running the app shows that the formula tool is updating correctly.








The secret here is the syntax for creating a reference to the list of constants in Alteryx.





Workflow Config



When certain Interface tools are used on the canvas, their “type” and “name” are displayed in the list of constants. This can be inspected in workflow configurations under the Workflow Tab. Using this information, I can use the syntax described above to reference user selection/inputs from Interface Tools.






List Box in Alteryx Analytical Apps

The List Box and Tree tool have multiple possible configurations and can perform a variety of functions depending on these settings. In the following example, I show a potential use case for the List Box tool.

List Box Use Case


The list box tool is used in this analytical app to select/de-select fields based on user selection. Configuration of the List Box tool will depend on where you want the “List” (that users select) to come from. In this example, I have chosen to get the list from the current data stream (note the ‘Q’ Top Input anchor on the List Box tool connection) and allowing selection fields for all data types.



A user running the app will then see the interface layout below. Since all data types are allowed to pass through to the Select tool, all fields are then available for selection. 




Tree Tool in Alteryx Analytical Apps

The Tree Tool enables user selection based on a hierarchical data structure.  For example, let’s assume we want to group our fields by numeric versus string fields. To do this, I first set up an appropriate hierarchy. Next, I choose the “Custom File/Database” option in Tree Data Source and use the hierarchy file as the Data Source. I have included a template for how I created the hierarchy file below as well as the configurations on the Tree Tool. I also show how the Tree tool can be setup with an Action and Dynamic Select Tool.


Tree Tool Hierarchy Example

This can be set up as an excel or other file types for input to the Tree Tool


Tree Tool Configuration












Note that the Dynamic Select Tool chooses a field via a formula that scans for field name based on user input. Based on this setup, a potential user will then see this layout when using the app.



I have not covered exhaustively all the possible configurations for these tools. However, I found that the best way to learn was to experiment with tool settings and read Alteryx help files, 

Leave a comment below if you can find a good use case for not using anchor connectors. Would be interesting to know if there are good use cases for this.

Thanks for reading this blog post! 


Alex Chan
Author: Alex Chan