Alteryx Designer is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to complete a wide range of tasks, from data preparation and blending to predictive modelling. With over 200 tools built in and the ability to create your own tools it is incredibly versatile. However, with that many tools starting off in Alteryx can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. This blog will walk you through some basic tools in Alteryx in order to kick start your Alteryx journey.

By default Alteryx Designer has 14 “Favourite” tools which appear in the top left under the Favourites tab. This list can be customised to your preference, however, untouched it provides a good initial list of tools for data preparation and blending. This is the list of tools I will be walking you through in this blog, after which you will be equipped to tackle beginner tasks in Alteryx.



The Browse tool may well be the most used tool in Alteryx. It shows a complete view of the underlying data at any stage during your workflow. By adding this tool onto the output of another tool you can see the data in its current state (without a Browse tool you will only see 1MB worth of data in the results section). It also summarises the data on the left making it easy to inspect.


Input Data

The Input Data tool is the starting point of your workflow. There needs to be at least one input and output for all functioning workflows in order for them to work. This tool opens the source data in the workflow; it can read the following formats: CSV, MDB, DBF, XLS, MID/MIF, SHP, TAB, GEO, SZ, YXDB, SDF, FLAT, OleDB, Oracle Spatial.


Output Data

The Output Data tool can be used whenever you need to output data in your workflow. This tool writes the results of your workflow in a variety of different formats.


Text Input

The Text Input tool works like an Input Data tool, except you can only input text. This is useful for inputting text in a table quickly (a good use case for this could be a lookup table).


Data Cleansing

The Data Cleansing tool is useful for fixing several common data quality issues quickly and easily (e.g. null values and leading and trailing white spaces).



The Filter tool does just what it describes; it filters the input according to conditions that your set and outputs a true and false based on where the data meets the conditions set.



The Formula tool might be a familiar tool for those of you who have used Excel or other BI tools. With this tool you can apply a range of formulas to create or alter fields. A list of all the formulas can be easily accessed within the tool.



The Sample tool allows you to take a certain portion of the input based on the record number.



The Select tool is another heavily used tool that allows you to select which fields you want to be output and change the format of input fields. It also allows you to change the order of fields.



The Sort tool arranges records in alphanumeric order either by ascending or descending based on the field of choice.



The Join tool is a great way to blend two tables, by using a commonality to connect data. This is a very useful tool for blending data from different tables.



The Union tool appends multiple data streams. You can input multiple tables here and stack them based on record position or field name. You can also manually decide which fields stack on which.



The Summarise tool is another versatile tool that allows you to do quite a lot. To name a few summarise processes; you can group, sum, count and much more by fields.



The Comment tool allows you to annotate your workflows in order to make notes for yourself or others using your workflow.


What Now?


Hopefully you’re now well equipped to start your Alteryx journey! By combining the above tools you should be able to tackle most basic tasks in Alteryx. Once you have mastered these tools you can build on your knowledge by adding more and more tools to your repertoire. I recommend visiting the Alteryx Community and tackling some beginner level challenges there to practice what you’ve just learned; you can find the list of beginner challenges here. Stay tuned for more Alteryx guides in the near future!



Patrick Breis
Author: Patrick Breis