Alteryx Workflow Design: Few Best practices tips

Alteryx is a powerful tool for data blending, data cleansing, joining and aggregating data to help solve complex business problems accurately and quickly. This post will focus on how you can make your workflow designs more efficient and intuitive for you. Designing efficient workflows can not only speed up processing but also help with faster troubleshooting. More clarity around your workflows will lead to less time spent going through a scavenger hunt finding that favorite tool of yours.

Let’s go how to design your workflow layout, save your workflow more frequently, and apply data profiling to ensure you have optimal data quality.

Workflow layout

Design your workflow orientation horizontally or vertically. Whether you prefer to work from left to right or from top to bottom, the tools added to your workflows will be included based on the Layout Direction selection. Click anywhere in the canvas and in the Workflow – Configuration window, select the Canvas tab and select Layout DirectionHorizontal and Vertical options are available, so select your layout preference, as shown in the following image:


The Annotation option under the Canvas tab includes the HideShow, and Show w/ Tool Names. While building out your workflows, you may add many tools and sometimes it may be difficult to translate which tool is which. You could try to remember the Multi-Field Formula tool as a milkshake or the Multi-Row Formula tool as the Burger King crown. This may work for some tools, but with the number of tools in Alteryx it’s best to show the tool names and the Show w/ Tool Names option is helpful. It can be activated, as shown in the following image:


The Connection Progress will have three options; HideShow, or Show Only When Running. If you prefer not to view the Connection Progress, then the Hide option suits you best. If you want to catch a glimpse of the Connection Progress as your workflow is processing, then the Show Only When Running option is your choice. The Show option may fit you best if you would like to display the number of records that were processed even after the operation is finished; this option is great for troubleshooting. You can select from these options, as shown in the following image:


Autosave workflows

Imagine this: you are building a beautifully designed workflow and the pop-up Upgrade finished: Computer will now restart appears out of nowhere! Uh oh, quick, Ctrl + S is racing through your mind. Thankfully, the Autosave feature saves the hassle by selecting time intervals to save the workflow you are working on.

The Autosave option is located under Options User Settings Edit User Settings Advanced:


The Autosaved files can be accessed by going to File | Open Autosaved files. The available files are listed and can be opened or saved as a different file.

Data profile information

The Browse tool contains Data profiling information that provides you with details on the quality of the data. Data profiling can be turned on or off by deselecting Collect and display data profile information under the Options | User Settings Edit User Settings Default tab. There will be various metadata and charts displayed depending on the data type of the column selected. The quality of data is color coded by the following in the Browse tool:

  • Red: Not OK (white spaces possible)
  • Yellow: Null, due to no data
  • Gray: Empty
  • Green: Good, quality of data is healthy

The following snapshot shows where, under the Defaults tab, the Collect and display data profile information option can be turned on or off:


Explorer box

The Explorer box is a great way to quickly open workflows while Alteryx is already open. The workflow file can be dragged from Windows Explorer and dropped on the canvas. The workflow will open in the same window on a new tab. This reduces the amount of time a new instance of Alteryx needs to open each time. The Explorer Box tool can be found under the Documentation tool palette:


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