Having used Alteryx for 4 months now, I thought I would share some quality of life hacks for Alteryx. I have worked with datasets which range from just 20 records to those heftier ones at 10 million records.

Tips for larger workflows

I realised last week when I had to work with 10 million rows of data that caching sections of your workflow is paramount to keeping your sanity, especially when it involves downloading data of some sort. Caching is easy. All you have to do is right click on a particular tool, and hit ‘Cache and run workflow’.

When the data still felt too large, I found myself using the Sample Tool to reduce the bulk of data I was working with. What I found particularly useful in this case was using the ‘1 of every N rows’ option, selecting N to be 100. This reduced those 10 million rows to just 100 000. Something I learnt about doing this is that you have to be a lot more generalised in your formulas, because data is never clean and ready for use. My regex broke in some instances because I did not accommodate for special characters, and those got through at one stage and had to be rectified. I used some of the other sample tools such as Random % Sample and Create Samples just to make sure the records change.

It is also important that you remove data that you don’t need. When you download data, there are a lot of things you might not need. You can easily do this within the select tool. Just deselect the columns you don’t need. Wasting performance? We don’t do that here.

Finding things within bigger workflows

When I first learnt to ctrl + F in Alteryx, I thought it was merely to find a particular tool. However, you can actually use ctrl + F to find expressions you have used previously. Refer to the screenshot below. By typing in ‘trimright’ in the search bar, it returns the tools where I have used the expression ‘trimright’. I know this will be so useful in all future workflows!

Also, when you have an insanely long and hard to follow workflow and you need to drag the output from one tool to the input of another, you might find it hard to navigate around your large workflow as you would be scrolling way past the area you need. To get around this, right click on the input part of the tool in question and select ‘View Possible Connections’. A list of possible output connections will be listed, saving you the trouble of clicking and dragging from 1 side of your workflow to the other.

Andrew Banh
Author: Andrew Banh