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Double Qlik?

Time to write another philosophical post that will upset some people and will bore some others to death. Hell yeah. But don’t worry, we’ll also have fun stuff, so bear with me. Here’s my story: In the last few months, I’ve been working a lot more with Qlik Sense and, even though I’ve learned to love it, I still have some doubts about its adoption and the future of the Qlik platform in general.

A few days ago, I saw a post by Qlik Luminary Aaron Couron where he asked the world a simple question: QlikView or Qlik Sense? What’s your preference? While I was reading the answers, I remembered many treads I’ve encountered in QlikCommunity and some good discussions we’ve had in our Qlik Dev Group events, but it specially reminded me of the comments I got after tweeting these images not so long ago:

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Some people favored one over the other, some argued that both should coexist and some others simply went nuts. But regardless of which side you choose, it’s amazing to see the number and variety of opinions in this regard. In a way, I find it interesting how we’re still asking ourselves if this town is big enough for two Qliks. After all, Qlik Sense was released almost three years ago, which in technology standards is a lot of time!

Don’t forget to check Aaron’s full post here. Lots of cool stuff!

Like many of you, I’ve grown quite fond of Qlik Sense as well. It has many advantages like a flexible security schema, more competitive prices and amazing governability in terms of its users, data, apps, metrics and pretty much everything else. However, I don’t think I’m ready to get rid of QlikView just yet.

In the meantime, I also started questioning myself about how the users, developers and even our business model have changed recently. Even though I agree with Stephen Few regarding the soundness of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (witness the mega-burn here), that’s definitely a message we should not ignore.  Continue reading

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Qlik Dev Group & Masters Summit for Qlik

In the last few years, I have attended several Qlik-organized meetings like Qonnections and –believe me– those guys really know how to host an event! Usually, there are great presentations, delicious food and interesting announcements. However, I’ve always felt that they are more focused on the customers, partners and sales people.

In contrast, independent events like the Qlik Dev Group and the Masters Summit have something special: they’re created specifically for the developers which, in my opinion, are the real heroes behind all the Qlik implementations.

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Let me start with the Big Four: Rob Wunderlich, Barry Harmsen, Oleg Troyansky and Bill Lay. The Masters Summit for Qlik is an event launched in 2013 that can definitely take your Qlik skills to the next level. With dynamic presentations and lots of ready-to-use resources, this forum will surprise even the most experienced developers with tricks that will change the way you approach your applications. I had the chance to travel to Copenhagen for last year’s summit and it was absolutely worth it!

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I won’t lie to you, I was a little disappointed when I saw that Rob doesn’t wear his hat all the time and that Oleg got rid of his Qlik tattoo… but after the shock, I really enjoyed their presentations. Their next events will take place in Johannesburg and Texas in September / October, so you’re right on time to book your flights.

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This dynamic group of Qlik developers is rapidly taking over the world by showing everyone that “Eat. Sleep. Qlik. Repeat.” is the best way to live. Since its inaugural event in London (2014), it has displayed an amazing growth. Today, it holds events all around the world in cities like San Francisco, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Hamburg, Santiago, Paris and Mexico (it’s pretty much like any Pitbull’s song). Continue reading

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More things I hate about QlikView

Let me start this post with a question: What is wrong with you people? I was building a little app for analyzing which are your favorite topics in this blog when I came across a sad realization. Even though QlikFreak is full of useful tips about visualization and data modeling, it looks like the most popular post is… well… the one where I complain about everything 😛

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In a way, writing this kind of posts is like talking about my problems with someone who really understands, and since I cannot afford a decent therapist, why don’t we put the constructive spirit aside and discuss the details we hate about the platform we love? Here we go: More things I hate about QlikView!

The extra space in listboxes when you use the AJAX client: I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had mixed feelings about the AJAX client. On one hand, it has great features such as notes, session collaboration and the fact that you don’t have to install anything special in order to use QlikView in desktops, laptops or even mobile devices. On the other hand, it slightly changes the size and alignment of the objects, modifies the amount of visible rows in straight / pivot tables and sometimes adds scrollbars to the charts. And well… I really hate unaligned objects in my apps!!! However, the thing that annoys me the most is, without a doubt, that blank space that appears at the end of certain listboxes:22_02

For God’s sake! Why. Are. You. There?!?! Aaaaarrrrghhhhh!!!

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Bulk Actions: At some point in our lives, we’ve all wished that QlikView had some sort of bulk actions (you know, a magical “Apply to all” button). For example, let’s say you just finished creating a 10-column straight table and you want to center all the labels.  You go to the Presentation tab and try to select all the expressions but you can’t, so you end up either clicking each column and centering its title or changing the object type to a Pivot Table and doing it all at once (I’m not really sure why this only works for Pivot Tables). Continue reading

QlikView Consultant Starter Pack

Unfortunately, a couple of days ago, one of my colleagues invited me to one of those “Why am I even here?” meetings with a new customer. I’m sure you are all familiar with them: long reunions with no objective whatsoever where all the participants strive to look busy and productive, but in reality, they’re not accomplishing anything at all.

In the middle of this rampage (and questioning my very existence out of the boredom), I remembered some “Started Pack” memes I saw earlier that day:

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But then, I started thinking, I’ve never seen a QlikView Consultant Starter Pack. Of course there are several training kits and video collections for beginners, but let’s say you meet someone who has just finished his basic QlikView training. How would you help him equip himself with all the tools and resources that he’ll need for his journey as a new consultant? Well, after some thought I came up with this list (and yes, I managed to do something relevant during that meeting too):

Decent computer

OK, don’t give me that look… Yes, I can see you rolling your eyes already! Wait a minute, this is just a little reminder for the newbies.

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Don’t forget that QlikView models are loaded into RAM. So, if you’re going to work with several millions of records, you’d better get a good laptop (and yes, you’re going to need Windows). Though you can now develop in any browser or mobile device using Sense, let’s be honest: it is much more comfortable to work in your own machine, with all your apps, images and other resources available.

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About Scatter Plots

The Qlik platform is all about analyzing data and making discoveries. However, in order to get valuable insights for your organization, you can’t just go around loading any data source and creating random charts. On the contrary, a good QlikView developer will always strive to use the most appropriate objects for each type of analysis.

Even though classic visualizations such as bar, line or pie charts are essential components of most applications, complex inquiries usually require more sophisticated tools to gain full understanding of the situation and make the best decisions possible. In this regard, one of my favorite visualizations is the scatter plot (Well, scatter plots and histograms, but we’ve already talked about those).

Although not very common, when used adequately, these charts can be real eye-openers. Sadly, its usage is still covered in a veil of mystery for the majority of the business users who –for a strange reason– seem to fear its power. But anyways, back to the story…

This chart stands out due its ability to elegantly handle great amounts of data. Though its simplest form only combines one dimension and two expressions plotted along the x and y axes, you can enrich them in several ways. Let’s start with an easy example:

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Each bubble in this chart represents one of On Nom Nom Nom’s food trucks. As the y-axis embodies the sales amount, the higher the bubble is, the “stronger” the food truck. On the other end, the x-axis represents the Margin %. Therefore, a bubble far in the right could be categorized as “more intelligent” due to its higher profitability. In this case, the best scenario for the company would be to have most of the bubbles in the upper right corner, meaning that all the food trucks sell a lot but also have good margins.

To make this visualization clearer, we can add reference lines and define static of dynamic thresholds with variables and traditional expressions: Continue reading

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Qlik Demos

16.0Since the beginning of my career as a Business Intelligence Consultant, Qlik’s demo site has been a reliable source of awesome stuff. It is a great way to learn more about KPIs, get some inspiration and borrow useful tricks. Unfortunately, in the last few months, I haven’t seen a lot of activity there. I remember a time when they used to share demos almost weekly!

I know there are a lot of great designers there like Michael Anthony, Arturo Muñoz, Jennell McIntire and Shima Auznis (who is now a partner), so I hope you surprise us with more apps soon! In the meantime, these are my 5 favorite demos:

Expense Management
Clean, balanced and insightful. I often use it as an example in my trainings.
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Insurance Demo
Yes, you can create a good-looking dashboard using dark interfaces.
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Why do QlikView initiatives under-deliver?

Warning: Long and philosophical post ahead. Read at your own risk.

Last week I finished a research about QlikView implementations and I’d like to share some of the results with you. The complete document is about 70 pages long (one of the final assignments for my master’s degree), but I’ll try to reduce the theoretical jibber-jabber and only highlight the interesting stuff.

The study was based around a simple question: Why do QlikView initiatives under-deliver? The idea was to widen the scope of the analysis, not only reviewing projects individually, but evaluating the QlikView environment as a whole, because –let’s face it– you may deliver QlikView applications on time and within the budget, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to real and tangible business value.

I wanted a complete outlook, so the sample was divided in 3 groups:

  • Consultants: QlikView experts that stay with other companies for a couple of weeks in order to configure the platform and create applications. I had the chance to interview colleagues from different companies including Master Resellers, Solution Providers and Qlik itself.
  • Implementation team: People that were directly involved during the process. This includes developers, designers, DBAs, project managers, power users and functional personnel who helped with the definition of business rules and data validation.
  • Other stakeholders: These guys are not directly related to the implementation, but certainly have an interest in QlikView. This group is mainly composed of business users, C-level representatives (CEO, CIO, CFO, etc.) and procurement departments.

In the study, the interviewees had to distribute 10 points amongst their answers, giving us a prioritized list of the most common elements that hinder QlikView’s success according to each group. After analyzing the answers, I’ve come up with the main challenges encountered in a QlikView implementation in Mexico: Continue reading