Yes. That was cheesy.

Today we’re going to install Connect, Alteryx’s Data Catalog. Later, we’ll ingest (load) some data from Snowflake, PostgreSQL, a file system, and Tableau. And then we’ll dance.

The Windows Machine

I gave Connect a t2.2xlarge, just like the Alteryx Server boxes. I provisioned the machines in the exact same way, too. All my machines are sitting on a private network, with access from the public Internet routed through a load balancer.

An SMTP Side Note: AWS SES

You may have noticed that earlier I didn’t bother configuring SMTP in Alteryx Server – this is because the good old hack of using Gmail’s SMTP Server no longer works “as is”. I guess it hasn’t in a while, and I just didn’t know it.

Long story short, I didn’t want to find or stand up an SMTP Server for this work. However, I realzied that AWS’s Simple Email Service works quite well. Essentially, you:

  • Prove to them that you own the domain you want to “send email from”, for example, russellchristopher.com
  • Verify an email address ON that domain (like rchristopher@)
  • Generate a set of SMTP credentials (username, password)
  • Submit an AWS Support request to take your account out of “sandbox” mode so you can send email to ANY email address in “the word”

Steps 1-3 took about 3 minutes. Since I don’t pay for support on my personal AWS account, it took about 24 hours to get moved out of the sandbox.

TLDR; you’ll see me configuring SMTP when we setup Connect. Happiness.

Running Setup

Straight forward. Just run setup. You’ll be prompted where you want the bits to be dropped and what http port Connect should listen on….

…and then you can start the server:

Here we go! Starting up:

Once Setup is complete, you’ll be reminded of the default admin username & password (CHANGE THESE!) and you’re on your way.

Yes. That’s really the admin password. In Comic Sans.

Configuration

Next, use your browser to login to the Connect instance from the local console and you’ll be forwarded to the first Configuration Screen:

A throw-away machine

Give your machine a good name. Your users will see it from time to time. For example, here’s me doing a password reset while I was testing SMTP and the un-modified, un-friendly default name was exposed in a password reset email:

Please pretend I didn’t show this email to you.

I changed the Base URL (previous screenshot) to match the public DNS name I use to hit this box from the Internet: connect.russch.com. You don’t see that in the example screenshot because this is a throw-away machine I used just for documenting what I did. The Base URL you see here is the internal machine name I’d use to access the box on my private network.

The Trusted Domains setting sort of threw me for a loop. At first I thought I needed to stick any and all domains in there that I might want to crawl in terms of ingesting data / content / whatever. Wrong! Here’s what Help says:

Type or paste a list of domains that users can use to embedded external pages into asset descriptions. Leave blank to forbid all external pages. A wildcard character (*) is needed to indicate what part of the URL may change. For example: *public.tableau.com*

So based on the current setting values I plugged in, I guess I could embed an arbitrary web page or image hosted on one of my servers or maybe Tableau Online or something.

I think the “Auto-provision” (Disable or Enable sign up) feature is smart – I can plug in a couple of domains like “alteryx.com” or “russch.com” and let anyone from there sign up without me (the administrator) having to do anything. Provisioning new users is sort of a pain, so this made me happy.

In the real world, you’ll defintely want to take a look at the Allowed Domains list and remove all the default domains that are included there.

Next, SMTP. Pretty straight-forward. Use SES!

Finally, we need to tell Connect about the Alteryx Gallery we want it to crawl…and rats, I forgot to take a screenshot before I hit “Save”, so I’m going to show you the same settings in the Admin console after the fact. Sorry.

On this page, you’ll need to plug in the location of your Alteryx Gallery and an admin username & password for that Gallery.

In addition, you can (manually) add the Gallery admin key and secret if you want to. I’m not 100% sure why you’d need to do this in the first place, so I’ll find out and update this post once I know.

Finally, you’ll want to set (the same, I guess) Connect admin credentials that you’ll use when you load Connect with information. But that’s the next blog.

Click Save, and you’re done.

For the moment, you have a server with nothing in it:

Home sweet (emtpy) home.

At the highest level I can jump into (empty) groups of Workflows, Reports (both Alteryx Insights Reports and Tableau/Qlik/PBI), Data Sources, Business Glossary Definitions, and Information about People.

There IS one people on the box right now, me:

I can drill down on “me” and see more details, including Nexus – which shows me I’m not only a People, but I’m a member of the Contributor group:

After we start loading data, you’ll see all sorts of awesome stuff in Nexus. But that’s for next time, so sit tight.

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