1. Introduction to the Formula Tool

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The Formula Tool

16 lessons , 2 exercises

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In this introductory lesson, we learn how to navigate and interpret the very powerful Formula Tool in Alteryx.


Formula Tool

  • The Formula tool allows users to apply formulas to existing datasets
  • Alteryx has many built-in standard expressions to aid formula creation
  • Formula results can either go into a new column or overwrite existing data
  • The Data Preview box shows a preview output, allowing users to see if the formula is correctly constructed


The Alteryx formula tool found in the preparation tab of the tools palette, is an extremely useful and dynamic device that will invariably play some part in most data preparation and analysis projects.

In this lesson, we're going to look at this tool in some detail to make sure that you get the most out of it.

We'll navigate to the preparation tab and bring the formula tool onto the canvas.

We'll now take a look at the configuration window.

On the left side, we see the output column.

By clicking on a select column dropdown we can tell Alteryx where to put the results from our formula.

The formula output can be presented as a new column in your data or amended to an existing field.

In most cases, we'll want to create a new column by choosing the add column option.

We'll add a column now, and name it New formula.

Beneath the select column dropdown is the formula canvas.

This area is where we'll create our formula.

Typically, we'll take an existing field from the data and manipulate it in some way.

For example, apply a conditional calculation.

We'll go through specific examples in the following lessons.

If we look over to the left side of the window, we can see various icons.

These will be very useful in the formula creation process.

The FX icon brings up a list of standard expression types to aid formula creation.

The X icon lets users reference fields from the data set with a single click.

Moving down, the folder allows us to retrieve a previously used expression.

While the disc icon allows us to save an expression.

Below the formula canvas, we can see a data type dropdown.

This dropdown allows users to select the data type for the formula output.

This saves us from needing to add a select icon to the workflow just to change the data type.

Finally, on the top right, we have the data preview.

This box gives us an indication as to the validity of our formula.

For complete expressions, it will return the output of the formula for the first field in the data.

This can be a helpful way to double check that the output is as expected before going on to run the entire workflow.

This completes our tour of the formula tool configuration window.

It's a lot of information to process, so don't worry if you haven't memorized it all.

In the following lessons, we'll continue to refer back to each section of the window as it is used.

In the next lesson, we'll look at formulas in practice starting with conditional functions.