July 5, 2023

Alteryx Designer Development Tips and Tricks

By João Leite

Developing workflows in Alteryx Designer is straightforward due to its code-free approach, but as you start getting used to doing initial developments, you may want to find ways to speed up your work and improve your workflow visuals.

In this blog, we’ll cover a few tips, tricks, and shortcuts to help shave time off your developments in Alteryx Designer.

Using Tool Examples

Most Alteryx Tools have built-in examples to help you understand their capabilities and configurations. Those examples are very useful when you’re starting your journey in the Analytics world as some of them show real-world scenario usages.

To access a tool example, you can right-click on the tool in your Tool Palette and select “Open Example,” or you can use the Search bar located in the upper right corner of Designer. By typing the name of the tool, an “Example” text will show up on the right side of the results.

Not all tools have examples, but if you have questions on how to use those, you can always go to the Alteryx Tools help page or search Community posts.

Absolute, Relative, and UNC Paths

Alteryx has three types of file paths that you can use on inputs and outputs, all with different intents and functionalities:

  • Absolute paths are the most common ones when developing, those will show a full path to a certain file in your computer. Ex: “C:\Users\USER\Desktop\BalanceSheet.xlsx.”
  • Relative paths will locate where the workflow is currently saved on your machine and then will perform a path relative to that folder. For example, if you have a workflow in a “C:\Alteryx\Development\” folder and a file in the same place, the relative path is just “.\” If you had a subfolder in Development called “Balance Analysis,” the path would be “.\Balance Analysis\”, and so on. For previous paths, multiple “.” are used to go back to a folder.
  • UNC paths are used for file server folders. If you have a network folder mapped and want to read/write data to it, you need to use a UNC notation (this usually starts with “\\fileserver\…”).

Alteryx calls all inputs and outputs “Workflow Dependencies.” You can check how many you have and their individual configurations by going to “Options” -> “Advanced Options” -> “Workflow Dependencies.”


Every software has a set of shortcuts that can help you speed up the user experience. Alteryx shortcuts can help you navigate menus, hide, and show windows, move and align tools, and much more!

Here’s a list of the most used Ateryx shortcuts:

  • CTRL + Mouse Wheel: By holding CTRL and moving your mouse wheel up or down while hovering the canvas, you can zoom in or out.
  • CTRL + Shift + (+ or -): By holding CTRL, SHIFT, and clicking on + or –, you can align your selected tools horizontally (-) or vertically (+).
  • CTRL + R: Instead of clicking on the “Run” button, you can hit CTRL and R to run or stop your workflow execution.
  • F2: By pressing F2 on a tool, you can directly go to the “Annotations” panel, helping you document your tools faster.
  • Common shortcuts: Shortcuts such as CTRL+S to save, CTRL+C to copy, and CTRL+O to open all work within Alteryx.

Containers, Comments, and Annotations

Documenting a workflow for end users can be a little tricky, as there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Alteryx documentation tools can aid in making your workflow organized and understandable.

Adding tools inside containers and separating the logic parts into different folders allow users to simply glance and see what’s happening. By adding comment boxes or using the Tool’s Annotations, you can better describe each step of your workflow.

The Alteryx AIDIN Workflow Summary tool is another easy and fast way to get a summary of what your workflow is doing. This tool is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT and can provide a summary of the workflow purpose, inputs, outputs, and key logic steps. 

Using Events

On your Alteryx Workflow Configuration window, there’s a tab called Events. Events are a way of alerting users through emails whether a workflow has run successfully or not. You can also use events to run CMD commands to trigger additional processes.

Events can be triggered in four different ways:

  • Before run.
  • After run.
  • After run with errors.
  • After run without errors.

Note that to use email alerts, you need to specify a valid SMTP connection.


Constants are often used in programming languages to define globally used variables. By default, Alteryx already has some pre-defined constants for every workflow built. You can check them out by going to the Workflow Configuration window and clicking the Workflow tab.

To create constants, you just need to click on the “+” sign near the Constants list and assign a value to it. By default, constants are considered strings; if you have a numerical constant, you can check the box in the “#” column.

You can use constants when typing expressions in Formulas, Filters, or other tools that allow directly making an expression.

To reference a tool, use “%ConstantType.ConstantName%”. For example: “%User.EmailList%”.


In this blog, we covered a few potent tips and tricks for developing in Alteryx Designer that should help you save time and improve efficiency. If you want to keep learning more about the Alteryx Platform and its usage, keep in touch with our blog posts!

Interested in leveling up your workflow development in Alteryx Designer? The Alteryx experts from phData can help! Explore our Alteryx services today!

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