Prepare, Blend, and Analyze FedEx Data in Alteryx Designer

Build workflows to access live FedEx data for self-service data analytics.

The CData ODBC Driver for FedEx enables access to live data from FedEx under the ODBC standard, allowing you work with FedEx data in a wide variety of BI, reporting, and ETL tools and directly, using familiar SQL queries. This article shows how to connect to FedEx data using an ODBC connection in Alteryx Designer to perform self-service BI, data preparation, data blending, and advanced analytics.

The CData ODBC drivers offer unmatched performance for interacting with live FedEx data in Alteryx Designer due to optimized data processing built into the driver. When you issue complex SQL queries from Alteryx Designer to FedEx, the driver pushes supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to FedEx and utilizes the embedded SQL engine to process unsupported operations (often SQL functions and JOIN operations) client-side. With built-in dynamic metadata querying, you can visualize and analyze FedEx data using native Alteryx data field types.

Connect to FedEx Data

  1. If you have not already done so, provide values for the required connection properties in the data source name (DSN). You can configure the DSN using the built-in Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator. This is also the last step of the driver installation. See the "Getting Started" chapter in the Help documentation for a guide to using the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure a DSN.

    There are five pieces of information needed in order to authenticate its actions with the FedEx service. This information is below.

    • Server: This controls the URL where the requests should be sent. Common testing options for this are: "https://gatewaybeta.fedex.com:443/xml", "https://wsbeta.fedex.com:443/xml", "https://gatewaybeta.fedex.com:443/web-service", and "https://wsbeta.fedex.com:443/web-service"
    • DeveloperKey: This is the identifier part of the authentication key for the sender's identity. This value will be provided to you by FedEx after registration.
    • Password: This is the secret part of the authentication key for the sender's identity. This value will be provided to you by FedEx after registration.
    • AccountNumber: This valid 9-digit FedEx account number is used for logging into the FedEx server.
    • MeterNumber: This value is used for submitting requests to FedEx. This value will be provided to you by FedEx after registration.
    • PrintLabelLocation: This property is required if one intends to use the GenerateLabels or GenerateReturnLabels stored procedures. This should be set to the folder location where generated labels should be stored.

    The Cache Database

    Many of the useful tasks available from FedEx require a lot of data. To ensure this data is easy to input and recall later, utilizes a cache database to make these requests. You must set the cache connection properties:

    • CacheProvider: The specific database you are using to cache with. For example, org.sqlite.JDBC.
    • CacheConnection: The connection string to be passed to the cache provider. For example, jdbc:sqlite:C:\users\username\documents\fedexcache.db

    When you configure the DSN, you may also want to set the Max Rows connection property. This will limit the number of rows returned, which is especially helpful for improving performance when designing reports and visualizations.

  2. Open Alteryx Designer and create a new workflow.
  3. Drag and drop a new input data tool onto the workflow.
  4. Click the new input data tool and under Connect a File or Database, select Database Connection -> New ODBC Connection.
  5. Select the DSN that you configured for use in Alteryx.
  6. In the wizard that opens, select the fields you wish to include in your query. Where possible, the complex queries generated by the filters and aggregations will be pushed down to FedEx, while any unsupported operations (which can include SQL functions and JOIN operations) will be managed client-side by the CData SQL engine embedded in the driver.
  7. If you wish to further customize your dataset, you can open the SQL Editor and modify the query manually, adding clauses, aggregations, and other operations to ensure that you are retrieving exactly the FedEx data you want.

With the query defined, you are ready to work with FedEx data in Alteryx Designer.

Perform Self-Service Analytics on FedEx Data

You are now ready to create a workflow to prepare, blend, and analyze FedEx data. The CData ODBC Driver performs dynamic metadata discovery, presenting data using Alteryx data field types and allowing you to leverage the Designer's tools to manipulate data as needed and build meaningful datasets. In the example below, you will cleanse and browse data.

  1. Add a data cleansing tool to the workflow and check the boxes in Replace Nulls to replace null text fields with blanks and replace null numeric fields with 0. You can also check the box in Remove Unwanted Characters to remove leading and trailing whitespace.
  2. Add a browse data tool to the workflow.
  3. Click to run the workflow (CTRL+R).
  4. Browse your cleansed FedEx data in the results view.

Thanks to built-in, high-performance data processing, you will be able to quickly cleanse, transform, and/or analyze your FedEx data with Alteryx.