Introduction to CARTO Workflows

What is CARTO Workflows

CARTO Workflows is a visual modeling tool that allows you to create multi-step analyses without writing any code. With Workflows, you can orchestrate complex spatial analyses with as many steps as needed which can be edited, updated, duplicated, and run as many times as needed.

Why Workflows?

Workflows is completely cloud-native, which means that behind the scenes Workflows compiles native SQL to your data warehouse or database and runs the Workflow directly within the database or data warehouse. What does this mean for you?

  • Speed: Since Workflows uses native SQL in the data warehouse, the speed of your analysis is comparable to running the analysis directly on the data warehouse itself. For example, a spatial point in polygon count of US Counties (3k+ polygons) to 26 million+ points can take ~6 seconds to run (depending on your infrastructure)

  • No data transfer: Your data never leaves your data source. This means that compared to other tools that take data out of the source, the performance boosts are massive, and you ensure your data remains in the same place

  • Faster analysis: You can assemble and modify analyses much faster than writing SQL and you can automate repetitive tasks

  • Lower costs: In nearly all cases, Workflows is a lower-cost analysis method compared to other desktop-based tools

Our goal with Workflows is to bring the power of spatial SQL to a much larger audience including GIS Analysts, Data Analysts, and Business Users who can now create complex spatial analysis without writing code. It reduces the need of specialist knowledge and for those specialists, they can now automate the repetitive tasks and focus on more complex and valuable analytical tasks.

Workflows UI elements

Before we jump into workflow's tutorials and templates, let's take a quick look of the Workflows interface so you know your way around before getting started.


First is the Canvas where you will design your Workflow. This is a free-form Canvas meaning you can drag nodes onto any part of the canvas. You can zoom in and out to see different parts of your workflow and see the layout of the workflow in the mini viewer in the lower right corner. As you add nodes to the canvas they will snap to a grid to align.

Sources & Components panel

On the left side, you will find a menu where you can add data sources from the connection you created the Workflow. You can add any data source that you want that exists in your connection. You also have all the components, or nodes, that you can add to the canvas. You can search for components or scroll to find the component you want.

Results panel

The bottom panel is the results space where you will see four different tabs:

  • Messages: Messages about the status of your Workflow including success and error messages.

  • Data: After clicking on a node, you can see the tabular data outputs of that specific workflow step.

  • Map: After clicking on a node, if that step returns a valid geometry, it will show up in the map. If there is more than one geometry you will have an option to pick which one to show.

  • SQL: The compiled SQL of the workflow. This includes different steps and procedural language.

Resources in CARTO Academy

In order to accelerate your onboarding to CARTO and get you ready to get the most out of Workflows for your day-to-day data pipeline and analytics, we have carefully curated a set of detailed step-by-step tutorials and workflow templates, from basic introductory ones to others covering more advanced and industry-specific use-cases.

Keep learning...

Deep dive in some of the advanced features available in CARTO Workflows to ensure you get the most out of this tool by reading the specifications in our Product Documentation.

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