AYX Plugin CLI Overview

Version:
Current
Last modified: May 27, 2021

CLI Architecture

The AYX Plugin CLI is a command-line interface based on Typer, a tool that helps you build and manage custom plugins for Alteryx Designer. This top-level CLI oversees the creation and metadata of your plugins. It delegates the tasks of creating and building YXIs.

The AYX Plugin CLI detects which SDK your workspace is using to develop plugins and delegates the other CLI commands to their respective SDKs. For example, if you are developing Python tools, the CLI calls the Python implementation of create-ayx-plugin. However, if you are using another SDK to develop tools, the CLI delegates the create-ayx-plugin call to that SDK’s implementation.

This architecture allows for one CLI to manage the entire workspace, abstracting away the details of the commands to their respective SDKs. This lets you develop in different SDK languages without the need to download multiple CLI tools.

Exploring the AYX Plugin CLI

You can use the command line to access information on CLI usage, as well as available commands and their descriptions.

  • AYX Plugin CLI: Use the ayx_plugin_cli command (with no arguments) to open help content for the AYX Plugin CLI (top-level CLI).
  • Python SDK CLI: Use the ayx_python_sdk command (with no arguments) to open help content for the Python SDK CLI.

You can also pass in the --help argument to display the same information as described above.

The help menu contains 3 sections:

  • Usage: The Usage section describes the order in which commands and options are passed.
  • Options: The Options section lists the available options and their descriptions.
  • Commands: The Commands section lists the available commands and their descriptions.

AYX Plugin CLI General Usage

To create a default tool with the AYX Plugin CLI, follow these steps.

Initialize Workspace

To initialize the plugin workspace, run sdk-workspace-init. You will be asked to define these items:

  • Package Name: The name of the folder where you will create tools.
  • Tool Category: The Alteryx Designer tool category where all of the tools in this workspace will appear.
  • Description: This information is presented to the user when they install a YXI.
  • Author: Who wrote the plugins?
  • Company: What company owns these plugins?
  • Back-end Language: Currently, Python is the only option.

Add Plugin

Once your workspace is ready, run create-ayx-plugin. You will be asked to define these items:

  • Tool Name: The display name of the tool in Alteryx Designer.
  • Tool Type: This generates a template file for you to start using. The options are: input, multiple-inputs, multiple-outputsoutput, and single-input-single-output.
  • Description: The text a user sees when they select a tool in the Alteryx Designer tool palette.
  • Tool Version: Defaults to 1.0. This allows you to maintain multiple versions of a tool so that users can choose to upgrade to a new version or use the previous one inside of any Alteryx workflows.

Generate YXI

Now that you have added your plugin, run create-yxi. This zips up the folder and saves it as a YXI. To install this in Alteryx Designer, double-click on the newly created .yxi file or drag the YXI into Alteryx Designer.

Install YXI in Designer

During development, it can be time-consuming to repeatedly repackage and reinstall a YXI just to test one component that changed. You can use the designer-install command to install tools directly into Alteryx Designer from the source. This handles package installation and allows for a more seamless developer testing experience.

Workspace.json and Config.xml Files

Workspace JSON

The ayx-workspace.json file is the source of truth for the SDK workspace. A workspace essentially describes the set of tools that will be packaged and distributed. It is also read by the CLI to generate the top-level Config XML, ToolConfigXMLs, and Package YXI.

The ayx-workspace.json file is generated as part of the workspace initialization process. The workspace is a project description. It keeps track of all the tools that have been created, as well as their properties and metadata. This includes...

  • Number of Connections
  • Number of Input and Output Anchors
  • Metadata like tool names, version, icon path, etc.

When you add tools to the workspace, this subsequently modifies the ayx-workspace.json file so that the ayx-workspace.json is in sync with the directory structure and accurately describes the project workspace.

In general, you should not modify the ayx-workspace.json file because it’s managed and updated by the CLI commands. If you are an advanced workspace user and want to modify the file, keep in mind that modifications can cause unknown errors and unpredictable results.

Config XML

The top-level Config XML describes package metadata. The autogenerated ToolConfigXMLs are used by the Plugin to get and set anchors.

ToolConfigXML Files

Do not edit the autogenerated ToolConfigXML files. This could cause unpredictable results.

Troubleshooting and Known Limitations

Any errors that the AYX Plugin CLI generates are shown at runtime in the terminal. They include descriptions to indicate what caused the error.

Known Limitations

  • Tool names cannot start with a number and must be alphanumeric.
  • The AYX Plugin CLI currently supports one back-end language (Python).
  • If you connect a Python SDK plugin to a Text Input tool with no rows, it triggers an unrelated error. To fix this, you need to add rows to the Text Input tool.
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