DSAU25’s second week of training has been primarily focused on Alteryx, and I found it to be an extremely useful software, however frustrating the learning curve has been. Not frustrating in that it’s difficult to use or that the program doesn’t work smoothly or do the things you want it to do. More so in the fact that I know what I want to do, I know how I want to do it, but I’m just not familiar enough with the exact tools and functions I want to use for a certain task, nor in recognizing the most streamlined and effective way to fix a problem.

The program in itself has been a marvel in terms of discovering the different ways data can be manipulated, cleaned, oriented, and interpreted. I’m looking forward to continuing to use the program and getting better at recognizing what tools would be the most useful for particular problems and tasks. I definitely think this is what I’m struggling with most currently, however, I’m confident that as I continue to use the program over the next 14 or so weeks of the Data School training, I will become far more methodical in choosing tools and understanding how to solve problems and manipulate given data.

Here are a handful of useful windows on the Alteryx interface:
1. Tool palette – where you can drag and drop all the tools located in Alteryx, grouped by function
2. Workflow configuration window – where you can edit the settings of your tools and canvas
3. Workspace/canvas – where you drop tools to add to your workflow
4. Results window – where the input or output of the data from the tool is found

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In my last post, which is linked above, I discussed the first Friday presentation we had to do for our Data School training, which involved using the main software we were being trained in for the week, Tableau. Our second Friday presentation of our Data School tenure involved completing a challenge using Alteryx, and presenting our completed workflow to the cohort and other Data School members on a Microsoft Team’s meeting, similar to our first presentation. I undertook completing Challenge #198, and the most difficult thing I found was the initial stage of figuring out what exactly needs to be transformed and what tools I need to use to make what I want to happen, happen.

Above is how my workflow looked at the end, and I broke the workflow up into 3 different sections. If I was to do this again, I would break it up using containers rather than simply comment boxes, and I would colour code and label based on what the group of tools are doing exactly, rather than simply sectioning the workflow groups of 4 tools.

Another thing I would (and decided to) change is how I write the code in the formula tool. Above is how I initially had it during the presentation, and below is how I will try to write it going forward. It’s much neater and legible than the screenshot above and helps in seeing what exact function is being used to create new output columns.

While these were the main changes I would make to my workflow for this challenge, the next time we do challenges I want to be faster, not only at recognizing how to solve the problem, but also in completing the work. I didn’t get a chance to finish any other challenges besides this one that I presented, but again, I feel like this will come in time as I become more familiar and proficient with using Alteryx.

Nicholas Seah
Author: Nicholas Seah