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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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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Creating Stunning Dashboards with QlikView

It’s been a while since the last time I shared a post here, but believe me, I have a great excuse! Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working very hard with the guys from Packt Publishing on a book that covers two of my favorite topics: dashboards and data visualization. So, without further ado, I gladly present you “Creating Stunning Dashboards with QlikView”.

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This tome guides you through the process of creating effective and engaging dashboards that deliver tangible value to the business. Throughout its chapters, you will learn how to apply some of the best practices in the field of data visualization, create a robust navigation schema, work with colors, choose the best chart types for each scenario and many other things that will help you create useful applications that will uncover all the stories behind your data.

Though you might think that this is the average “do this, do that” handbook, this publication was written much like my blog; it contains technical stuff, best practices, opinions, tutorials and even some humor. However, this time I had an amazing group of people that helped me out: Larissa Pinto, Priyanka Mehta, Shruti Iyer and Parag Topre from Packt; Hakan Hansson, Speros Kokenes, Mark O’Donovan and Karl Pover in charge of the technical review and QlikView All-Star Bill Lay who was kind enough to write the foreword.

PACKT LogoAmazon LogoBarnes Noble Logo

 

If you want to know more about this book, go to its section in this site (you didn’t know there were other pages in this blog right? Surprise!!!). Although Amazon usually delivers faster, I prefer Packt because you have immediate access to the digital version in multiple formats*

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I really like the end result, and I hope you find it useful and have a good time reading it, so be sure to check it out. Also, don’t forget to share your thoughts about it, I’ll be looking forward to hearing your feedback!

Hope to see you around,

Julian Villafuerte

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Calendar View

Last week a customer asked me for a simple –but quite friendly– visualization for the daily sales. These guys are in the fast food business, and their operational supervisors (one on each restaurant across the country) needed a general overview of the daily behavior of the sales, orders and average ticket. My first draft was a straight table with the main KPIs compared to the last year accompanied by this chart:13.14

The blue line represents the current year while the gray one embodies the last one. As you can see, their sales are extremely predictable: slow weekdays and busy weekends. Sadly, they didn’t feel comfortable with it. They could compare a Thursday with its contiguous days (Wednesday and Friday), but it was hard to compare it with other Thursdays.

The answer was clear; they needed a Cross Table that involved the weekday. However, when I created the object, I realized it was hard to read. In the end, I came up with this:

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Quite simple, but it covered the operational needs. Here’s how to do it. As always, you can download the QVW file here.

Tutorial

1.- First of all, let’s create some fields in the script:

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Countdown

In today’s post, I want to share a simple / not incredibly useful app that I use very often as a QlikView trainer. In my courses, I like to guide most of the exercises step by step and give tips and tricks as we encounter new functions or objects. However, some exercises have better results when working alone, especially when working with charts. For example, when I present themes, containers, tabs and auto-minimize I like to give the students a few minutes to decide the way their applications would look like.

In the beginning, I used to tell them the approximate time that we were going to spend on the exercise and the expected finish hour. As you can imagine, nobody kept an eye on the clock and we always had delays, so one day I created this application. [Download]

12.2The idea is to store the expected time for the exercise in a variable using an input box and after clicking START, the gauge in the right would represent the remaining time using the function now(). When the clock hits the “Red Zone” (another variable), the gauge turns red. Continue reading

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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