Troubleshooting and FAQ

Version:
Current
Last modified: March 17, 2021

Find answers to frequently asked questions and browse troubleshooting tips for common issues in Alteryx Designer.

I lost my Configuration window—how do I get it back?

To get back a window that you might have accidentally closed, like the Configuration window, go to View and select the Configuration window or the window you are missing.

You can double-click or right-click any tool and the tool Configuration window becomes an active visible window.

You can return to the default window settings at any time. Go to Options > User Settings > Restore Defaults. This docks the windows in the original orientation from the default Alteryx setting.

Visit Customize the User Interface for more information.

How do I turn annotations on and off?

There are a few ways to turn annotations on and off.

  • Per Tool: You can turn them on or off per tool, meaning you want to keep some annotations while omitting others. To do this select an individual tool. Go to Annotation from the Properties window and in the Display Mode, select the appropriate choice.
  • Per Workflow: There is a toggle switch on the Workflow Configuration window where you can turn all the annotations either on or off for that particular workflow. Additionally, you can have greater control leaving this feature on and controlling the annotations per tool as described above.
  • Via User Settings: You can set up your user settings so that Annotations appear the same way for every workflow and tool.

Visit User SettingsTool Configuration, and Workflow Configuration for more information on annotations.

How do I append leading zeros to a field?

Use the PadLeft(String, len, char) function, which pads the string to the left with the specified character (char) to the specified length (len).

Visit Functions for more information.

I sent my output to a spatial file, but my new layer doesn't have any spatial objects—what did I do wrong?

When you output to a spatial file be sure you are outputting a spatial object with the output.

  1. Select the Output Data tool.
  2. From the Properties window, select Configuration and specify the file name, type, and location you are outputting to.
  3. Once you select save, an Advanced Options grid appears in the Configuration Properties. In the second row of the grid choose the appropriate spatial object you would like the output layer to contain.

While using spatial tools, you might have more than one spatial object field in the data stream. When you are configuring the final Output Data tool, you must remember that spatial files accept only one spatial object field.

What's the difference between the Transpose tool and the Cross Tab tool?

The Transpose and Cross Tab tools are alike in that they both transform the orientation of your data, but are opposite in their behavior.

The Transpose tool pivots horizontal data to a vertical axis. The CrossTab performs the reverse, pivoting vertical data to the horizontal axis, by summarizing the data on a grouping field.

Visit the Transpose tool and Cross Tab tool pages for more information.

How can I change a word or a character—or remove it entirely?

Visit Functions for examples on creating expressions for strings.

What happens when you union 2 files together where the fields aren't named exactly the same but they should be?

The nice thing about the Union tool is you have complete control over how the fields line up.

In this situation, let Designer get you most of the way there. When you hook up a Union tool, select the radio button Auto Config by Name.

From the Configuration Properties, the Manually Config setting allows you to specify the field order individually. Note that when the mode is set to Manual Config, Designer assumes the configuration will not change at runtime. Therefore if anything is missing, an error is thrown. Be careful to keep this configuration mode out of Analytic App/Macro actions.

To reorder the way the columns stack, click inside a field and use the arrows to relocate the column.

Another way is to hook each input to a Select tool and rename the fields before passing them through the Union tool.

How do you open multiple files that start with the same words?

Multiple files can be brought through a single input file.

Option 1

When configuring the input file, browse to the file path and enter as much of the name as the files all have in common followed by a * to recognize multiple characters:

data\datafiles\ABCD_*.csv

This example brings in every .csv file contained within the data\datafile directory whose name begins with ABCD no matter how many characters follow in the field name. So it brings in ABCD_4.csv and ABCD012.csv.

Option 2

Use ? to recognize 1 character. Remember to include the file extension:

data\datafiles\ABCD_?.csv

This example brings in every.csv file contained within the data\datafile directory whose name begins with ABCD_ + 1 character. So it will bring in ABCD_4.csv but not ABCD_012.csv.

Visit Input Data tool for more information.

How do I rename a field/column?

The best place to rename a field (column) is through the Select tool.

There are a number of tools that have an embedded select within the tool. Therefore you can rename a field there as well. Tools that contain an embedded select are the Join tool, Join Multiple tool, Append Fields tool, Spatial Match tool, and Find Nearest tool.

How can I change a field (column) type?

Use the Formula tool to change a field's type. This tool provides you with more control for custom conversion.

You can also use the Select tool or any of the tools that have an embedded select in the tool, including the Join tool, Join Multiple tool, Append Fields tool, Spatial Match tool, and Find Nearest tool.

My workflow takes a long time to run—how can I speed up the processing time?

There are a couple ways to optimize a workflow to speed up the time it takes to run.

  • The best way to speed up processing time is to use the Select tool to remove fields (columns) you are not using as early as possible in the data stream.
  • You can also minimize the time it takes to process and initialize spatial data by writing to .yxdb files. Any spatial file that remains static should be sorted on the spatial object and then output to a .yxdb file, like in the case of the Spatial Match tool, which allows you to bring in the .yxdb file directly and bypass the backend process of reading in and sorting the spatial file.
What is the Dynamic/Unknown field showing up in the Select tool?

The Dynamic/Unknown field (column) shows up and is checked by default in the configuration properties of the Select tool (as well as other tools).

The purpose of this field is to allow new fields to come in, in cases where your input file might change. It gives you the ability to determine where new fields go in the file by moving the field's position.

Some of the tools in my Tool Palette appear to have locks on them—how do I unlock them?

There are several different add-on options to the basic bundle of Alteryx that a user can purchase. Based on the license installed on your system, only the corresponding tools are available. Tools that are not licensed still appear, but are in fact locked. A workflow fails to run when it comes to a locked tool.

If a tool appears to be locked, and you feel this is in error, contact Fulfillment. Someone will contact you promptly and walk you through your setup to make sure your serial number matches your installed license so you can have the full functionality you have subscribed to.

To inquire about the different add-on options to the basic bundle or to upgrade your configuration, contact your sales representative.

What are the minimum recommended system requirements for running Alteryx Designer?

The minimum and recommended system requirements are referenced on https://www.alteryx.com/. Ideal system configurations depend on the type of analysis you are conducting. Some processes are much more memory intensive and depend on other factors including file location, file size, other programs that are running simultaneously, etc.

I have more than one Allocate report in my workflow, but only one report was written—what went wrong?

You need to specify a file prefix. From the Configuration Properties there is a box to the right of Output Format called File Prefix. While this box is optional, you must create a prefix if there are multiple Allocate reports in the workflow. Otherwise, each report will overwrite each other as it is created downstream.

Visit Allocate Report tool for more information.

I want to compare a couple workflows side by side—how do I view more than one workflow at a time?

In the workflow window, where the workflows are built, notice the tabs across the top. These allow you to see the workflows you currently have open and allow you to toggle from one workflow to the next. Right click on a tab for additional display options. You can tile multiple workflows to compare side by side.

How do I save an expression?

You can save expressions so that you can use them over and over again without having to create them from scratch.

Create your expression using a combination of selecting variables and inserting them into functions. Once you are happy with the formulated expression, select Save and specify a name for your expression. Your expression is now saved for future use.

How do I split an output into multiple files?
  1. Connect an Output Data tool to the data stream and specify the file type and location.
  2. From the Options: Specify how many records to output into a single file. If the specified number is less than the total number of records, multiple files are output. The resulting multiple files will be named sequentially, in other words, file.dbf, file_2.dbf, etc.

Another multi-file output option is to do so according to the values of a particular field. From the Configuration Properties of the Output Data tool, check the box Take File Name From Field.

  • When this box is checked, a separate is written out for each value of a particular field.
  • Additionally you can chose to append a suffix or prefix to file/table name, change a file name, or change the entire file path.
How do I remove quotation marks around the text fields in my file when it is output to CSV format?

By default, Designer adds quotes in these situations:

  • An empty field value is replaced with "". This is so Designer can differentiate it from a NULL.
  • A field value that contains leading or trailing whitespace becomes quoted. Whitespace outside of quotes in a CSV file gets ignored by most software.
  • The field contains delimiters.
  • The field contains single or double-quotes.

There are 3 options for quoting in a CSV file from the Output Data tool. Choose Never to add quotes to output fields.

I received this error, "No Values found before GetMean()"—what does that mean?

Check your configurations upstream. If there is an Allocate Append tool, be sure the spatial object specified in the dropdown selection is a polygon object and NOT a point object. If the error is coming from a Reporting Map tool, ensure you are not choosing Smart Tiling on a String field as a Thematic mapping tile mode.

Can I run a workflow from the Command Line?

Yes, you can. To run a workflow from a DOS prompt, add the path to the Alteryx executable in your Environmental Variables settings, and then create a batch script with the workflow you want to run. The batch script only needs the executable name and the workflow name. 

Here's an example: AlteryxEngineCmd.exe Test_Module.yxmd

How do I extract a layout file from my data file?

You can create a layout file via the Select tool. Link a select tool up to your data stream and go to Options > Save/Load Field Configuration and specify the file name and file location. A *.yxft (Alteryx Field Type) file will be written out and readable in any text editor.

Another option is to use the Field Info tool.

I have a multi-processor machine, but Designer uses only one processor—how do I make sure it uses each processor?

In this case, a program told your operating system to limit Alteryx Designer to a single processor. To manually select what processors Designer can use, do this:

  1. Go to the Windows Task Manager.
  2. Click on the Processes tab.
  3. Right-click on the AlteryxGui.exe and then select Set Affinity.
  4. Select the processors you want Designer to use.
I use a simple filter:[Value] > 2, but I'm getting values equal to 2 in my TRUE stream—is this a bug?

Check the data type of the field (column) you are filtering on. Most likely this field is a double. This is not a bug, it is how computers store numbers. The value of 2 stored as a double with 16 decimal places of precision is actually somewhere between 1.9999999999999999 and 2.0000000000000019.

To demonstrate this, use a Formula tool to create a new field and set the field type to string 20 length. Use this Conversion function to convert the value to a string:

TOSTRING([Value], 16)

To get around this...

  • You can convert the field to an integer or fixed decimal if you intend to compare the values of fields.
  • Use the CompareDigits or CompareEpsilon test functions to compare values of fields.

For more information about Floating Point numbers, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floating_point.

I use the Join tool, and it displays many fields in red font—how do I make them go away?

Each time the Join tool is configured it remembers the fields that were there each configuration. If the fields are not currently there, they are still remembered by the tool and appear in red. From the Options button, select Forget Missing Fields. The red fields are dropped.

Any tool with an embedded Select tool has this same functionality: Append Fields tool, Join tool, Join Multiple tool, Find Nearest tool, and Spatial Match tool.

When I bring in an Excel file as my input, my data fields have "NULL" values in them even though they contain data—why?

Most likely, different cells have different data formats associated with them. When bringing in XLS or XLSX input, be sure of the following:

From the Input Data tool options number 2 File Format, choose Microsoft Excel (*.xlsx). visit Alteryx driver for Excel (.xlsx) for more information.

If using the other Microsoft Excel Legacy XLSX option, this occurrence is due to a well-documented limitation of the Microsoft Jet Engine which is what Alteryx uses to read Microsoft files. By default, Microsoft reads through the first 8 rows of data to determine the field type of a column. It then passes this information to Alteryx and that is what we use to read the file.

The user has the choice to work around this issue or fix it in their registry. The workaround includes these steps:

  1. From the Input Data tool configuration, First row contains data. This forces all fields as V_String.
  2. Configure the Dynamic Rename tool to Take Field Names from First Row of Data.
  3. Use the Auto Field tool to properly assign the best field type for each data column.

The fix for this involves changing a setting in your registry. These instructions are being provided as well as document from Microsoft, as Alteryx cannot be sure that changing this setting will not cause problems with other applications. For more information on this issue, go here.

To change the Registry setting...

  1. Go to Start > Run and enter "regedit."
  2. In the registry, go to HKey Local Machine > Software > Microsoft > Jet > 4.0 >Engines > Excel.
  3. Double-click TypeGuessRows.
  4. Change the value to 0 (zero).

For performance reasons, setting the TypeGuessRows value to zero (0) is not recommended if your Excel table is very large. When this value is set to zero, Microsoft Excel will scan all records in your table to determine the type of data in each column.

When I bring in an Excel file as my input, Designer gives me the choice to duplicate sheet names, one with a $ and one without—what's the difference?

The difference is that a table with a $ references a worksheet contained in the Excel file whereas a table without a $ references a range of cells to import. In most cases, the range incorporates all cells so there is no difference when bringing in the file.

As a best practice, the recommendation is to bring in tables with a $ in order to ensure you are referencing the entire worksheet because if records (rows) are added and or incorporated in the range, you will miss some records.

For more information, visit this page:

http://www.infocaptor.com/dashboard/excel-cell-ranges-using-sql-named-unnamed-odbc-jdbc

I see %temp% specified in the output for some samples—does this behave like an environmental variable?

The %temp% string references the system temp directory of the machine Alteryx is running on. The %temp% is not an environment variable. It might look similar, but it cannot be expected to behave the same as the environment variable of the same name.

I installed the latest version of Designer and am missing the geocoder tool—where did it go?

The tools that require data installs are now installed by the data installs themselves. You need to install the latest datasets to get additional content. Visit Community with your technical and product support questions or if you need a new shipment of data installation media.

This affects these macros: US Geocoder tool, Canada Geocoder tool, Non Overlapping Drivetime tool, Profile Comparison Report tool, Profile Detail Report tool, and Profile Rank Report tool.

How do I perform common Excel tasks in Designer?

This blog post provides the most common manipulations and how you might approach them using Alteryx:

http://www.theinformationlab.co.uk/2015/03/12/alteryx-101-for-excel-users/

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