Last month I was preparing to compete in the finals of a Top Coding challenge for my place of employment. To do this, I thought it would be a great idea to study the Alteryx weekly challenges.
Although I didn’t have time to complete every one of the challenges, I was able to extract and document some very useful techniques that I call “The Finer Things in Alteryx”. I think of these techniques as a reference guide for performing some high-powered operations in Alteryx. Many of the techniques are advanced so Alteryx beginners might have to take a little more time reading the content.
Yesterday, I realized that I open this document just about every day to reference the material, so I thought it would be a nice addition to this blog even though I am still building it. What I have come to realize about Alteryx is that it allows us to work with data at a multitude of scales, to solve problems ranging from fine-scale data manipulations up to gigantic, big-data operations. For this reason, Alteryx is the most complete and beautifully engineered software that I have ever used.
The Finer Things in Alteryx
The Finer Things In Alteryx document contains tool configuration snippets from the weekly challenges, as well as other forms of Alteryx documentation that I think are very useful. I offer some commentary on these examples to explain why I have chosen them for inclusion in this document. Many of the examples are date-related operations because working with dates is an important skill to have. There are many other topics included, too, that show us how to solve larger scale problems. These are included because they are clever and are worth studying.
I will be continuing to add information to this document, some of which will be from my original work, so stop by later on to see what is new.
The Top Coder Finals
Did the Alteryx studies help me in the finals? No. It turns out that I studied the wrong material. The other three contestants all somehow knew where to go to study the right stuff! So much for competition confidentiality, I guess.
There is a detailed story about what happened that day, but for now, I’m going to leave that tale left untold. I did enjoy the experience and now I have some knowledge that I wish I had a few months ago. If I continue my Top Coder studies, I am sure that the Alteryx techniques I develop will sneak their way into the “Finer Things” document. An example of this might be this Fibonacci sequence problem that I solved in Alteryx.
The #AlteryxAddict Affliction
I don’t know about other people, but I do have an addiction to solving problems. Going back to my childhood, I’ve recognized this feature I possess that can be described like this. Once I engage a problem, I cannot turn my brain off until the project is solved. It doesn’t matter if the workday is over, my brain will keep working until I know how to get to the solution.
One clear example of this occurred when I was an undergraduate student. There was a physics homework problem I was given that involved estimating the mass of the universe. Although I was unable to solve it in the first few hours I worked on it, my brain continued to think about the problem when I went to sleep. Somewhere in the early morning hours, I awoke with the complete solution because my sub conscience brain continued to work the problem while I slept. I got up and wrote the equations and computed the solution.
This leads me back to the #AlteryxAddiction hashtag. You will know that you have this affliction when you wear shirts like this:
and you find yourself sending cartoon tweets of yourself that spout the Bad Ass theme!
The Finer Things (1986) By Steve Windwood