Polycapillary optics are utilized in a wide variety of applications and are integral components in many state of the art instruments. Polycapillary optics operate by collecting X-rays and efficiently propagating them by total external reflection to form focused and parallel beams. We discuss the general parameters for designing these optics and provide specific examples on balancing the interrelations of beam flux, source size, focal spot-size, and beam divergence. The development of compact X-ray sources with characteristics tailored to match the requirements of polycapillary optics allows substantial reduction in size, weight, and power of complete X-ray systems. These compact systems have enabled the development of portable, remote, and in-line sensors for applications in industry, science and medicine. We present examples of the utility and potential of these optics for enhancing a wide variety of X-ray analyses.