We All Start Somewhere

April 19th, 2019

This article is by Ian Wi and originally appeared on the Alteryx Engine Works Blog here: https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Engine-Works-Blog/We-All-Start-Somewhere/ba-p/371822


Many users try Designer and never look back. In fact, many users try Designer, never look back, and go around telling folks they know about their experiences with Designer. You might think that it’d be weird if they told folks they don’t know, but that happens too.

Assuming that someone told you about Alteryx and you have time with that person to get started using it, asking for help can still be irksome. Having recently gone through this scenario, I know that the struggle is real and that’s why I’ve created a Designer Cheat Sheet. This cheat sheet covers some of the most commonly used tools for building workflows. It also covers some basic actions you may want to take, and the tool(s) associated with that action. There are also some useful terms for the uninitiated and a little advice for using functions.

There were many more tools that could have gone into the cheat sheet, but I purposefully left out many crowd pleasers (RIP RegEx). The idea here was to simplify to the point that someone can download the trial and use this cheat sheet to make a workflow that accomplishes his/her task. When I first started trying to use Designer, I knew what I wanted to do, just 1) not what tool would do that or 2) what language Alteryx uses to describe that action.

1 – Is there a tool that does what I’m trying to do, or is it a combination of tools? Knowing what tools are out there takes a while. Some tools seem to do very similar things but sometimes only one will work depending on the datatypes and structure present. Other times, you’ll need to use a couple tools to accomplish what you thought was one task.

2 – A big difference between natural languages and computer languages is the level of specificity. In conversational language, the words Sort, Parse, & Filter can all be seen as fairly equivalent. Computer languages were intentionally created to be as specific as possible. When you’re just starting out, the tools don’t have the strong identities that seasoned users recognize.

With that in mind, I wanted to create a “translation” from common parlance into the specific language used in Designer. Instead of seeing 24 categories containing 100+ tools, you can use terms you know to narrow down the experimentation around 2 or 3 tools.