Blocks are the 'building blocks' of a data workflow. Each block is a step in your workflow, allowing you to visually see and inspect your data as it makes it's way through your data process.
Blocks can ingest data, process data, and publish data, and are available on a Canvas under the secondary left navigation menu. Blocks are grouped into the following categories:
- Add Data - these are "input blocks" that bring data into Analytics Canvas
- Transform Data - these are tools that process data, just like spreadsheets, SQL, and other scripts
- Export Data - these blocks get your data out of Canvas and into other data tools
You can add a block to a Canvas by dragging it from the menu onto the canvas. Input blocks will bring up a wizard, whereas Transform and Export blocks must be connected to other blocks before they can be configured.
To configure a block, click on the centre of it to bring up the block control. While clicking on the centre of a block brings up the block control, clicking on any node brings up tools and information about the data at that node.
Block controls allow you to interact with the dataset.
Input blocks will allow you to edit the underlying query, refresh or reload data, and see other details of the query, like the SQL, dims and metrics, refresh time, load period, etc.
Transformation and Export blocks must be configured individually and generally have their own unique set of controls.
Each block has some Standard Block Controls, including the Date Heatmap, Table Preview, Block Comments, labels, etc. Details below.
Input Block Controls
There are standard controls for all inputs that are available when you click the center of an input block.
Under the Table Section, you will see the following:
- Edit Query. *If this is greyed out, the Table is being used in an automation workflow. Click Table details, find the automation workflow, and remove the table from the package before editing it. Alternatively, create a new query.
- Table Details - displays information about the table and where it is used.
- Refresh - incremental load (when available).
- Reload All - drop and reload from the start date forward.
- Reload Date Range - delete a specific date range and reload data from within it.
- Delete Date Range - simply remove data from a given date range.
There will also be a checkbox that says "Refresh table for every canvas run". This option is useful when the table is used in more than one canvas. If it only needs to be refreshed once during the reporting cycle, uncheck this box on any downstream workflows.
Under the Date Heatmap you will see a traditional heat map using the Date column of your dataset. It counts the number of records in the table for each given day.
A grey shaded area indicates that there is no data for the table on that date.
If you have more than 1 date field, you can select the field used in the creation of the heat map.
While most input blocks also have a Date Heatmap available when clicking on the centre of the block, the Date Heatmap is also available by clicking any stub on any block of the canvas.
Block comments allow you to leave notes on the individual block. This is for documentation purposes and to assist those who may be collaborating on your workflow.
Standard Block Controls
The following controls are standard across all blocks.
Block label: Edit the name of the block. It helps to provide labels that describe what the block does, such as “Filter on Date > (Today() - 10)” on a filter block or “Rename columns” on a calculation block
Block comments tab: - you can add comments about changes you made, giving you an edit history and traceability while helping your collaborators to understand your work in the block.
Nodes (also known as Stubs): While clicking on the centre of a block brings up the block control, clicking on any node brings up tools and information about the data at that node.
- Data: Here you will see the number of rows in the dataset at that node. You can page through the data using the pan and scroll controls. You can export the data at this node to a file either as a plain CSV or compressed with gzip.
- Data Profiler: If you click on “Data Profiler,” you will see the option to add columns of data to profile from the selected node.
- Stub SQL:. This will show you the SQL statement used to generate the data at that specific node. Right-click on any Node to get additional controls or for shortcuts.
Column Definitions: shows a list of columns and their related data types.
Block Error Icon: If you see the triangle with a “!” in it, click on it to see the warning message.
Block options: when you right-click on a block, you will see two options: to delete the respective block and to create a duplicate without connecting the nodes. You will have to manually connect the nodes again, although the block settings will be the same as the original one.
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