Inspiring Ingenuity

Alteryx, Bicycles and Teaching Kids Programming.


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Alteryx: Open Source YXDB

A few years back, we mentioned a open source YXDB reader/writer on LinkedIn.  After that, a whole lot of nothing.  It turns out that Alteryx did release the open source YXDB code, but it was so stealth that no one noticed.  This code is used inside of an R plugin, which had to be GPL’s because of R’s licence.  But since it was never published as a way to read/write YXDBs, no one noticed.

The thread on LinkedIn was recently revived, so I decided it was time to expose it to a bigger audience.

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Fat Bikes

20150130_142919The bike industry, like any other, has repeated fads that are designed to separate us consumers from our money.  The latest fad is fat bikes – bikes with tires greater than 4″ wide tires.  The original idea was a bike that you could ride on snow.  I guess it was invented by crazy cyclists in Alaska or something.   The hype though goes far beyond riding in the snow – people kept telling me how amazing the big tires are on dry land as well. Continue reading


Alteryx: XSLX Wildcard inputs

 A few people have been using the macro I wrote about in Alteryx: Wildcard Inputs, but have an issue with XLSX files.  The first thing to remember is that these macros I post (on my personal blog) are examples only and are not a supported part of the product.  I am happy to give people advice on how they might take what I did and extend it.  However, in this case, I thought it might make a good post about Alteryx macros with optional parameters, so I went ahead and did it anyway. Continue reading


Alteryx: Aggregate Formulas

Aggregate Formula SampleOne of the really great strengths of Alteryx is that is can handle any amount of data that you throw at it.  If your data is small enough, it might all be in memory, but when Alteryx gets more data than fits, it silently swaps out to disk.  This way people are routinely processing data sets that are 2, 10 or even 100 times bigger than they have enough memory for!

Mostly the user never notices this aspect of the Alteryx engine and it just works.  There are times though when we get feature requests that would be much easier to implement if all the data was in memory.  One example of that is aggregate functions in the formula tool.  Since other desktop products that are similarly easy to use, like Tableau and Excel, have simple SUM and AVG type functions in their formulas, it is assumed that Alteryx would too. Continue reading


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Alteryx: Optimizing Modules for Speed

One of the most common questions I get about Alteryx is: “How can I make my module run faster?”  Although Alteryx can be very fast, since it is such a general tool, it is only as good as the module that you have authored.  There is a very simple guideline that you can follow to make a module faster:  do less work.  The most common example of doing less work is to use the select tool as early as possible to remove fields that you are no longer using.  In order to walk you through the process I use to make an Alteryx module run faster, I am going to walk through the process of optimizing my Percentile Macro to run as fast as possible.

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