The first two weeks of The Data School training are over and I’ve learnt an incredible amount of new information already. I’ve particularly enjoyed learning the blend and data prep software called Alteryx. I’ve been blown away by how powerful this software is and we’ve only just scratched the surface in our Alteryx training. To take a little recap I’ve created a list of my favorite tools that I’ve come across so far.


1. Formula   

The formula tool is a great tool which allows you to create a range of calculations and operations to either update existing columns or create new ones, or both. What I love about this tool is the ability to create a new calculated column and then use this column in a second calculation within the same tool. Have a look at the example below where the “Variance” column is first created and then a “Target” column is created using the “Variance” column in the first calculation. You can learn more about the tool here.



2. Summarize   

Summarize is a tool which enables you to do a range of summarizing operations on both string and numerical field types with grouping, summing and counting being just a few of them. It is very easy to use and you can perform multiple operations of several fields at the same time which makes this tool so powerful and time-saving. It also enables you to rename the output fields which is very convenient. In the example shown below, the summarize tool is used to calculate the median visits and sum of money spent by city and state. As you can see, you have to select the actions in the right order, grouping by state and city first, before the calculations are done. You can learn more about the summarize tool here.

3 & 4. Cross-tab and Transpose    

The cross-tab and transpose tools are used to reshape your data. They are complementary to each other as the cross-tab tool pivots the orientation of your data from vertical to horizontal, while the transpose tool pivots the orientation of your data from horizontal to vertical.

The tools are very powerful by themselves, but by combining them you can restructure your data almost any way you want (see example below). Used together with the filter tool they are also a great way of getting rid of columns (see below) . My Data School mate Alex has written a great blog post about the use of these transpose and cross-tab tools which I recommend to you check out. You can find it here

Example of how to remove “null-columns” dynamically:





5. Data cleansing

As the name implies this tool is used to clean your data, and what an amazing job it does! Data sets can be quite messy with several null-values, tons of white space etc. With this tool, you will never have to worry about this again. It can replace all the nulls in your data set with blanks or 0 depending on the field type, as well as remove unwanted characters. It can also modify `the case of your data fields to both upper and lower cases which can come in handy! Have a look at the screenshots below to see the full list of what this tool can do. You can learn more about this tool here.


Final words

I am only at the beginning of my Data School and Alteryx journey so this list will most likely change in the coming weeks as I learn more advanced tools and encounter more complex data sets. Nevertheless, I hope you’ve had a quick understanding of some of the powerful features that Alteryx offers and that you will enjoy your journey with Alteryx. I know I will!

Speak soon.

Anders Wold
Author: Anders Wold