SmartSuggest and EagerSuggest

Alation’s extensive search capabilities extend to Compose. Through SmartSuggest and EagerSuggest, Alation helps you find and choose the right data objects to query by providing suggestions as you type. These suggestions are based on the popularity of the data—how frequently it is queried across your organization. Alation learns this from Query Log Ingestion and user behavior over time.

SmartSuggest provides suggestions after you start typing a few characters. EagerSuggest provides suggestions after you enter a space character but before you start typing anything else. EagerSuggest can also provide suggestions right after you use SmartSuggest to insert something into your query.

When SmartSuggest or EagerSuggest are enabled, you will receive suggestions for:

  • Keywords

  • Data objects—schemas, tables, and columns

  • Joins

  • Filters

  • Identifiers

  • Functions for select data sources on native connectors


    Functions can be suggested for the following data sources on native connectors: Azure, Hive, PostgreSQL, SQLite, SQL Server, Teradata, and Vertica.

    For PostgreSQL, Alation suggests both user-defined and built-in functions, and the functions are brought into Alation during metadata extraction.

If you have given logical (human-readable) titles to your data objects, joins, and filters in Alation, you can enter those titles into your query and SmartSuggest will make relevant suggestions.

Use SmartSuggest and EagerSuggest

In the example below, you can see that a user began typing and now is at the letter combination SE. In the SmartSuggest window, Alation suggests a number of options that potentially predict what the user is trying to type.


Use the arrow keys or the mouse to select an item from the list of suggestions. When you select a catalog object, the Preview tab will immediately show information about that object. After selecting a suggestion, use the enter or tab key to insert it into your query.

Keyboard Navigation

You can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate between suggestions in the SmartSuggest window:

  • Left or Right arrow keys: Move to the left or right between the tabs.


    In releases before 2021.3, this should be done by using Shift-Up or Shift-Down key combinations.

  • Up or Down arrow keys: Move up or down the list of the suggested elements.

  • Enter or Tab: Insert the currently highlighted suggestion. If no suggestion is highlighted, a line break or tab will be inserted instead.

You can configure the Compose settings to enable or disable the use of the tab key to insert suggestions. You can also turn off keyboard navigation completely. In that case, you would only be able to interact with the suggestion dialog with a mouse.

Disable or Enable SmartSuggest and EagerSuggest

You can turn SmartSuggest and EagerSuggest on and off at any time. To disable or enable:

  1. In Compose, click Settings in the upper-right corner of the page. The Settings dialog will open.

  2. Click the SmartSuggest tab.

  3. To disable SmartSuggest, clear the Enable SmartSuggest checkbox. To enable it, select this checkbox.


    You must enable SmartSuggest for EagerSuggest to work.

  4. Use the Enable Eager suggestions checkbox to enable or disable EagerSuggest.

  5. Click Apply.

Set the Length of the List of Suggestions

Applies from release 2021.3

It is possible to adjust the size of the suggestion window to be 5, 10, or 15 items in a category. If there are more items in the list than the selected number, you will need to scroll up or down to view them all. This setting applies to both SmartSuggest and EagerSuggest.

To set the size of the suggestion list:

  1. In Compose, click Settings in the upper-right corner of the page. The Settings dialog will open.

  2. Under SmartSuggest Modal Size, select the number of items you wish to be visible in the suggestion list for both SmartSuggest and EagerSuggest. The preview area on the right shows what the adjusted list will look like.

  3. Click Apply.