Inspiring Ingenuity

Alteryx, Bicycles and Teaching Kids Programming.


Alteryx: Processing Groups of Records in a Macro

I have been working on a blog post that is going to integrate a variety of different aspects of Alteryx together to paint a larger story.  As I have been building towards it, I have run into a variety of challenges that have grown into blog posts in their own right.  It started with Weighted Medians and continued on with Downloading from TIGER.  Today I ran into a very common problem – I needed to process records in groups.  The solution I outline is extensible to any macro; it should be a useful technique for any data artisan. Continue reading


Alteryx: Connecting to Cloud Services


…or consuming the Google Directions API…

There are many functions available as cloud services that can be used within Alteryx.  For instance, the Alteryx geocoder is fairly good, but sometimes people want more, or just want to try other options.  Instead of asking Alteryx to do something about it (and waiting for a future release), many of the APIs can be utilized from directly inside of Alteryx.  A quick search will find a variety of options, many of which could easily be wrapped by an App or Macro. Continue reading


Alteryx: Downloading from TIGER

or how do I get free spatial data for Alteryx…

I keep having this big idea for a blog post, but getting sidetracked by things that I need before I start.  Its always nice to share, and I figure many other Alteryx users would have the same needs as me.  Last weeks post, Weighted Medians, was one example of this.  This week, for the next step in what I have been working on, I needed a US Block polygon file.  Blocks are the lowest level for which Census data is tabulated.  The census helpfully makes the polygons available for download on their ftp site, but the data is in a separate ZIP file per state containing SHP files.  What I really want is a single  YXDB file for the entire layer.  Downloading 50+ files and then unzipping and converting by hand sounds like a lot of work.  I am a programmer and programmer’s by nature are lazy, so I wanted to make this process easier. Continue reading


Alteryx: Reading XLSX Directly

Sometimes, it seems that Excel is the most popular database format for our customers.  My response has always been that Excel is not a database, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter – they have data there that they want to use in Alteryx.  In reality I am sure other formats get used more, its just that I hear about Excel so often because there are so many issues.

Our support for Excel files is through a Microsoft driver.  In the case of modern Excel (XLSX files) that support comes from the Access Database Engine.  There are a bunch of issues with this;  if you have a 32bit version of office installed, you can only have the 32bit driver which makes us have to jump through additional hoops if you have a 64 bit Alteryx.  For various reasons, it is a hard one for us to install as part of Alteryx, so it is left to the user.  This leaves these files unreadable on many machines.

Recently I got the following on our internal support email:

… The issue here is that when you bring the data of the spreadsheet into Alteryx, it rounds up the decimal points to fewer than from data that is showing in Excel. Where the spreadsheet shows 5 decimal points, Alteryx only brings in 4 decimal points. The user doesn’t need the entire decimal range, but at least wants to have the 5 decimals of data. …

Continue reading


Alteryx: Ensuring fields are in a data stream

This week’s question:  How do I ensure fields are in a data stream?

This is a common issue when you are reading data that changes from time to time.  If you use a Crosstab Tool or are reading from an XML file, the output fields can change based on the presence (or absence) of specific input data.  This makes it very hard to write formulas, or really do any down stream processing on those fields.  In particular, what we want to do is ensure fields are present, but NOT change them if they are already in the record. Continue reading


Alteryx: Encrypting Data

Question: Can Alteryx do field encryption and then decrypt the field?  For example Example Social Security or Account Numbers?

I couldn’t help but take the challenge – I have been thinking about encryption a bunch lately…  Of course Alteryx has no built in method for encrypting data at this point, although it is a fine feature suggestion.  Don’t be surprised to see an AES_Encrypt(…) function at some point in the future. Continue reading