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.


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!]


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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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).


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:


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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