Tile Grid Maps

Have you ever had one of those “of course I can do that in QlikView” moments? As a Qlik developer it’s not uncommon to find yourself struggling to create a chart or pull off a complex script that nobody asked for, but for some strange reason, you decided to tas a personal challenge. Well, I just had one of those moments.

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I couple of days ago I was wandering around my usual blogs when I found a post by Alberto Cairo  where he talked about an interactive visualization created by the FiveThirtyEight team regarding the political preferences in the United States. [By the way, if you don’t follow those blogs you are missing a lot of great stuff!]

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Besides being a stunning way to present What-If scenarios, I liked the usage of the Tile Grid Maps, which have become a pretty popular visualization lately. What is a Tile Grid Map, you ask? Well, think of it as a mix between a choropleth map and a table heat map. If you want to see more examples, you can visit Bloomberg, The Washington Post or The New York Times.25_30

It is true that most of the times we strive for more accurate charts but ironically, this technique’s boon is that it disregards the actual size of the regions and translates them to equal-sized shapes (in this case, squares) so it becomes easier to see even the smallest areas. Therefore, this solution is excellent when the geographic size is not the most important thing, but maintaining a loose spatial distribution is.

So anyways… In today’s tutorial we’ll build something like this:

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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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QlikFreak Football

What happens when you mix QlikView with the best football leagues in the globe? In today’s post, I’ll share a little app I created to analyze data about my favorite soccer tournaments like the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga or the Serie A from Italy. So let’s take a break of business oriented dashboards and spend some time reviewing the wins, losses and goals of the last few years.

If you’re a football fan, you’ll stay for the discoveries. If you’re a QlikView enthusiast, you’ll stay for the tips regarding scripting and visualization. If you’re not neither of those, you’ll visit our Random page in order to see funny videos like a pug playing ‘Enter Sandman’ from Metallica in the drums.

As usual, you can download all the related files here. Ready? Let’s get started!

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The first challenge in this endeavor was to find a good data source. However, a static XLS file wouldn’t do the trick. Since we’re in the middle of the season and there are matches every week, we need a way to update our file constantly. Even though it’s not the most common way to extract tables, don’t forget that QlikView can retrieve records from external websites (Data from Files > Web Files).

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After browsing for a while, I found a great sports portal called SkySports where we could get all the information we needed. In order to load it to our model (and since I didn’t want to copy and paste the same code dozens of times), I relied on one of our oldest friends: the FOR… NEXT loop. The structure is not very complex, so I’ll let the code speak for itself: 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):

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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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QlikView Rankings: Premier League

Hello everyone and welcome to our first post of the year. Today, we’re going to work with a simple data set from the Barclays Premier League and see how number formats, simple visual cues and other chart options can help us present better rankings:

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But before that, let me take a minute to share a couple of things I’m really looking forward in 2016. As Qlik fans and data enthusiasts, maybe you will relate to some of them:

  • Masters Summit @ Milan: The dream team will be offering new workshops with the Qlik platform in one of the most iconic cities of the world… Am I the only one excited?
  • Three long-awaited book titles in my list are finally coming out this year:
    • Data Visualisation: A Handbook for Data Driven Design, by Andy Kirk
    • The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication, by Alberto Cairo
    • Mastering QlikView Data Visualization, by Karl Pover
  • Deploying more projects with QlikView and R: I’ve been working in small apps that mix QV with machine learning, predictive models and text mining in R and the results have been amazing (more posts about this topic in the following weeks). However, I’m pretty excited about implementing them in large scale.
  • Seeing how Qlik Sense evolves: I have to admit that my inner System Administrator fell in love with Sense from the very first minute. However, as a developer, data analyst and especially as a designer, I think that it still has room to grow. Nevertheless, I’m eager to see how this platform matures. I think 2016 will be a crucial year for Sense.
  • Becoming a Qlik Luminary: Ok, we can take this one out of the list already. It looks like my blog, my Twitter account (which you should totally follow) and writing a book about QlikView while selling and deploying projects for all the Master Resellers in the country for the last 6 years are not reason enough to get that title. Man, I’ve trained over 250 students in the art of developing QV apps! But maybe next year…

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C’mon, maybe even Leo might get an Oscar this year! But anyways, on to the post. Today’s data set is pretty simple, we have the best 6 teams of the Premier League and how many points they scored in the last two seasons. The idea is to display the rankings of both tournaments and highlight the movements between them. [Download all the materials here].

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Even though the number of points is a valuable metric by itself, the way this competition works makes the rankings (the way one team compares to the rest in the current season) more relevant. For instance, let’s focus on Arsenal for a minute. As you can see, even though they scored less points in the most recent tournament (75 against 79 from last year), they improved their position by going from the fourth to the third place.

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Threshold Bar Chart + Christmas Card

One of the biggest problems about being a QlikView Developer is that every time you see an interesting visualization, you immediately start wondering how you can use it in your own dashboards. For instance, a couple of days ago, I was wandering around in Twitter when I saw a message which, apparently, had something to do with the quality of the air in Berlin (sorry, but my German is not very good).

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As you can see, the structure of this chart is not overly complex: classic bar chart using a time dimension and a standard expression. However, a simple visual cue composed by a reference line and a different color makes it easier to identify where (of in this case, when) an element surpasses the threshold. In my opinion, it is an elegant and useful way to present data.

Since I didn’t have access to this particular data set, I decided to work with a sales QVD from one of the projects I’m currently working on and, after spending a few minutes in QlikView, this was the result:

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I don’t know if this kind of representation has an official name, but I called it “Threshold Bar Chart” <<Patent pending>>. I know… I’m awful at naming things so, if you have a better title, be sure to share it in the comments section! As usual, you can download the QVW with the final chart here. The recipe is simple:

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