If you are using a Software as a Service (SaaS) application, then you will likely at some point want to extract data from it for analysis or reporting purposes. Any good SaaS application will have an API (Application Programming Interface) written for it. Web service APIs that adhere to the REST (Representational State Transfer) architectural constraints are called RESTful APIs. In a RESTful Web service, requests made to a resource’s URI will receive a response in XML, JSON, or delimited text file. Using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol – the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web) you can use GET, POST, PUT, DELETE commands with parameters. RESTful APIs provide fast performance and reliability.
Alteryx provides many out-of-the-box data connectors for SaaS applications like Salesforce and Marketo.
If you would like to connect to your own SaaS application, which does not have a standard out-of-the-box connector, the Alteryx ‘Download’ tool is the perfect option to explore via a simple drag-and-drop interface. With the Download tool you can create your own connector that authenticates, downloads, transforms, and outputs the data all in one workflow.
The best way to start with the download tool is to create an ‘Input Data’ node and add a field for the API URL. You may create other fields like ApiKey here depending on the API you are using.
Drag the Download node to connect to the Input Table Node. Now we can set the URL to Download to be the URL from the Input Data Field.
[Most API requests to download will typically use the GET HTTP Action and then have some parameters in the URL to
define what data to retrieve. Here you can see I specify the GET action and also tick the apikey field to be dynamically added to my URL.
The result of the GET API call will typically be either in XML or JSON format. Alteryx provides the ‘JSON Parse’ and the ‘XML Parse’ nodes that you can connect to the Download node. These XML/JSON nodes make your life simple for navigating through the response format of the API and then either performing further data work on it or outputting the results to a file/database.
At Tridant, we have found the Alteryx Download node to be an invaluable tool for extracting data from SaaS applications. We have Alteryx workflows currently available for IBM Marketing Cloud (Silverpop), Mailchimp, Harvest and SugarCRM, while also working on many others. If you would like us to build an API connector for you in Alteryx then contact your Tridant Client Executive or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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