Alteryx Designer is a powerful tool that can be used to complete a wide range of tasks, from data preparation and transformation, to spatial and predictive modelling. It is incredibly versatile, with over 200 tools built in and the ability to create your own tools. However, with so many tools it can be extremely overwhelming starting off in Alteryx if you don’t know where to start. 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. The Favourites category includes the most common tools used in workflow creation. You can add a tool to the Favourites category by clicking the gray star in the top right of the tool icon on the Tool Palette. A yellow star indicates a tool is in the Favourites category. 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.

Browse Tool: The Browse tool displays data from a connected tool as well as data profile information, maps, reporting snippets, and behavior analysis information in the data.

 Input Data Tool: The Input Data tool brings data in to your workflow by connecting to a file or database.

Output Data Tool: The Output Data tool writes the results of a workflow to a file or database.

Text Input Tool: The Text Input tool makes it possible to manually type text to create small data files for input, which can be useful for creating Lookup tables.

Data Cleansing Tool: The Data Cleansing tool fixes common data quality issues using a variety of parameters.

Filter Tool: The Filter tool queries records and splits the data into two outputs, True (where the data meets the specified criteria) and False (where it does not).

Formula Tool: The Formula tool creates or updates columns using one or more expressions to perform a broad variety of calculations or operations.

Sample Tool: The Sample tool extracts a specified portion of the records in the data stream.

 Select Tool: The Select tool includes, excludes, and reorders the columns of data that pass through a workflow. With the Select tool you can also modify the type and size of data, rename a column, or add a description.

Sort Tool: The Sort tool arranges the records in a table in alphanumeric order, based on the values of the specified data fields.

Join Tool: The Join tool combines two inputs based on a commonality between the two tables. Its function is like a SQL join but gives the option of creating 3 outputs resulting from the join.

Union Tool: The Union tool appends multiple data streams into one unified steam. The tool accepts multiple inputs based on either field name or record position, creating a stacked output table. The user then has complete control to how these fields stack or match up.

Text To Columns Tool: The Text To Columns tool takes the text in one column and splits the string value into separate, multiple fields based on a single or multiple delimiter(s).

Summarize Tool: The Summarize tool conducts a host of Summary Processes within the input table, including: grouping, summing, count, spatial object processing, string concatenation, and much

Comment Tool: The Comment tool adds annotation to the project workspace. This is useful to jot down notes, explain processes to share or reference later.

What next?

Weekly Challenges

Once you’ve got the basics, Weekly Challenges are a fantastic way to improve your skills and learn new tools. The idea is to create a workflow that will transform the input data into the desired output. The challenges have varied difficulty and topics so you can easily find something to put your skills to practice.
Once you have a solution, comment on the post and add the workflow as an attachment – this is how you get the badges! You can also see what the original solution was and what others have done to get the same response. A really good way to learn Alteryx as it gives you plenty of different use cases.

Alteryx Certified

Another good way to learn about the tools is to take the Alteryx Certification exams. First, you need to take the Core Exam, then you can continue with the Advanced Exam. You can take them as many times as you want (with 7 days between the attempts) and they are free of charge.

Thomas Maple
Author: Thomas Maple

Tom is an enthusiastic and determined member of The Data School. He previously worked as a network engineer for a wholesale ISP and even created his own virtual escape room business with colleagues during COVID lockdowns. Tom has completed an associate degree in Engineering Technology, as well as his bachelor and honours in Computer and Network Engineering at RMIT. He is always striving to upskill, achieving certifications such as Cisco CCNA, Juniper JNCIA. While at The Data School he has recently achieved his Alteryx Core certificate and is currently studying to achieve his Alteryx Advanced and Tableau Desktop Certified Associate certificate. Tom’s interests include sports (particularly AFL, he follows the Melbourne Football Club), horse racing, cooking (and eating), as well as outdoor activities such as camping, hiking and SCUBA diving.