Five time-saving Alteryx tips, part 1: Finding your way around your workflow

by Anna Prosvetova

Data preparation can take a long time, depending on the state and size of your data set(s), but there are different ways you can speed up your work in Alteryx. This is the first post of a five-part series on tools and techniques that will save you time when building Alteryx workflows. Here I will talk about how to quickly find tools in a workflow. As your Alteryx workflow expands, it becomes difficult to quickly find the tool you need to work on, so knowing how to quickly find it can be useful.

Luckily, you can use the good old CTRL+F key combination in Alteryx to search for tools across a workflow. As you can see from the screenshot below, the search dialogue shows you all tools used in the current workflow in the ‘Matches’ window on the right. You can set your search parameters on the left and search for words or phrases in tools’ Names, Annotations, Configurations, etc. You can also choose whether you want to search for an entire phrase or whether your search string should be case sensitive.

As you can see in the animation below, you can hide the dialogue by clicking on the arrow in the top right corner and selecting ‘Hide’ from the drop-down menu, or you can make the dialogue dockable by selecting the feature in this menu instead. Now the search dialogue is available on the left side of the Alteryx interface.

It is good practice to name the tools in a workflow according to their functions rather than leaving them named as ‘Input (31)’ or ‘Filter (15)’. That will make it easier not only to understand what is happening in a particular part of the workflow, but also to search for tools across it. You can rename a tool or give it an annotation that will be visible in the workflow, under the tool.

For example, when I was working on the water quality data set during Day 1 of our Dashboard Week, I annotated my filters so I could understand what they are filtering without clicking on each tool to check it. I did this by clicking on the Filter tool I wanted to annotate and rename, and selecting the tag icon on the left side of the tool’s configuration dialogue that opened to the left of the workflow. Here I changed the ‘Name’ and ‘Annotation’ fields as in the image below.

When I pressed CTRL+F and searched for ‘rivers’, I found this filter as well as one of my inputs as it had ‘rivers’ in its name.

Let me know if you have any questions and make sure to check out the other posts in my ‘Five time-saving Alteryx tips’ series:

Other posts in the series: