Snowflake Summit 2019 Debrief

I was very excited at the thought of attending the first edition of the Snowflake customer event In San Francisco last week, and the event did deliver…

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Classify records based on keywords in a text field

Have you ever been tasked to assign customers to a category based on a free form text field? This happens a lot in B2B marketing, using the Title that a prospect has input into a form. It can certainly be done manually, but with larger data sets, automation becomes a must have.

There is no magic wand to perform this classification, but if you already have narrowed down a list of keywords to test with, this can be done pretty easily with Alteryx and a bit of Regex know how. As an example, I will use the file of reviews used in a previous post, which contains a lot of text and many records, to demonstrate the performance of the solution. The scenario is that I need to be able to distinguish reviews of bars vs. reviews of restaurants, and I want some flags so that I can filter them easily.

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How to edit Salesforce credentials within several Alteryx workflows at once

In Alteryx, the Salesforce connector is very useful to easily import raw data from Salesforce using its wonderful API. All you need to input is the email and password for a API enabled user login, as well as the Security Token.

The connectors are so convenient to combine SFDC tables, that you will quickly have several within a single workflow, and you will most likely have several workflows, that you spent countless hours to configure, as Salesforce tables can be VERY long. For instance, you must select the proper combination of fields to extract, as Salesforce tables, especially the custom ones, are laden with open text fields, useless for analytics in most cases. Those open text fields are input with very few restrictions of characters and will often trip S3 or your database.

There is just a slight issue with this design: on one hand, the SFDC credentials you did input are stored locally in each connector object you deploy, on the other hand, most SFDC logins require episodic password changes as they are set to expire. And should that happen, you will have failing workflows, unless you tirelessly inventory the location of each and painstakingly process to edit them. In my experience, that is not the end of the suffering: when you click on the connector to go edit the credentials, Alteryx Designer sends a request to SFDC featuring credentials, and after a few of those requests, sometimes just a handful, SFDC will lock your login out! You will then need to either get an admin to unlock the account, always a fun conversation to have with an admin, or wait one hour for SFDC to automatically remove the lock.

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Posted in Alteryx, Productivity, SFDC | 6 Comments

Alteryx INDB Traps and Limitations Series: Filtering Nulls

I get to spend a lot of quality time with INDB tools, which represent 90% of my workflows. I love them, I can generate code almost at the speed of thoughts. They are fast to put together but also very powerful, especially when coupled with modern data bases such as Redshift or Snowflake, as they don’t hog any local resource.

Yet, I have been running over time into a series of issues and limitations of those tools, far from being obvious, and which all caused perplexity and time spent to address. I will share them through a blog series, and will start with a trap easy to describe, yet lethal in terms of its impact on data integrity: INDB Filter does not handle NULLs by default, unlike its cousin the In Memory Filter.

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Posted in Alteryx, Redshift, Snowflake, SQL | 1 Comment

TC18 Tableau Conference Highlights

I skipped the Tableau conference last year as it was taking place in Vegas, and that is usually not a good experience, even without crowd shooters. I was happy to partake again this year to TC18, which took place in New Orleans.

The conference was well attended with 17,000 attendees, yet it never felt overcrowded like it does when in Vegas. The trade-off is that the NOLA Convention Center requires a lot of walking: I clocked 9 to 10 miles a day of walking. It gets a bit frustrating to walk from one end to the other end of the venue to attend a session, arrive on time and see it is already full, which happened to me a couple of times when the topic was APIs…

In my opinion, those APIs were elements of one of the two overarching themes of the Conference: Tableau is opening up for real and Tableau Prep is out of Beta. Both those themes reveal how pragmatic Tableau has become lately. For years, they were dismissing those customers needs and requests from the community: nah, Tableau does not need to open up, it is good as it is, and i f you need something else, you don’t understand visual analytics. Nah, Tableau does not need data to be prepped, and Alteryx success is such an epiphenomenon which has nothing to do with us. But eventually, witnessing the rise of usage of the web connector, and the IPO of Alteryx, they started seeing the light and responded. And I welcome that change! Continue reading

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