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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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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

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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.
16.5 Continue reading

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It’s not a bar chart!

Every professional is as good as his toolset and as a QlikView developer, there’s always room for one more trick under your sleeve. Today I will show you one of the most powerful –yet underused– chart for analyzing data: the histogram. Even though it is easy to create it I haven’t seen a lot of developers take advantage of it.

The important lesson here is that histograms are not exactly bar charts. The main difference is that bar charts are used to compare categorical variables whilst histograms represent distributions. Sounds interesting? No? Well, here’s an example.

A couple of days ago I was looking for a data set to try some functions and I got my hands on the ENEM results for 2011. The ENEM is a national exam taken by brazilian high school graduates that evaluates each institution (private and public) in subjects like mathematics, language and natural sciences.

With a traditional bar chart, you can address some questions like: Are there more public or private schools? Which state has the most schools? Which schools are the best ranked in mathematics?

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But as your inner data analyst grows more interested, you will start asking more complex questions. When we create a bar chart for the top 10 schools in mathematics, we may realize that there’s a big discrepancy between the best and the worst elements:

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Are there some extremely good schools raising the national average? Or alarming bad institutions brining it down? Are they all consistent? Can we separate them in groups (good, normal, bad)? Where’s the majority of the schools? Is there a significant difference between public and private institutions? Or between states?

Let’s see what QlikView can do for us. First, we’re going to change our classic conception of a bar chart by using the X-axis as the grade and the Y-axis as number of schools that got it. As you can see, the data adopts a shape that gives us a better perspective of the situation:

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Far in the right, we’ve got great schools (there are not a lot of them, but their scores are pretty high). On the other end, those who might need a little help (grades below 420 points) and in the middle, the majority of the schools. We can appreciate that the curve is skewed to the left, with most of the schools scoring from 440 to 560. Remember, a higher bar represents a bigger number of schools. For example, the red bar (the highest of all the histogram) is conformed by 296 schools that got grades between 500 and 505 points.

Is there a difference between public and private high schools? Well, if we separate our histogram using a second dimension we’ll get something like this:

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Some thoughts that will probably cross your mind are:

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

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Just Qlik it: Double Gauge

‘Just Qlik it’ is a new section of our blog that focuses on sharing useful components… that kind of objects that are not incredibly complex, but are easy on the eye and convenient to have around.

On our first delivery, I’d like to share a double gauge that gets along pretty well with comparisons between ratios (for example, net and gross margins).

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You can easily copy, paste and configure this component by modifying the colors and formulas in the Presentation tab. Just remember that there are two independent gauges and that you should include your formula in the Lower Bound of the second segment.

You might also want to change the Min and Max values allowed. If your numbers are usually between 0% and 30% there’s no need for a gauge that goes all the way to 100%.

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[ Download File ]

I often use this kind of representation to highlight the main KPIs of the tab and reinforce them with a detailed table in the lower part of the screen. In the downloadable file, most of the objects are dummies created only to Continue reading

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Top 10: Things I hate about QlikView

There is no perfect relationship. Your girlfriend is a little bit possessive, your roommate could use a shower once in a while and your boss always freaks out when you’re late. Come on, even QlikView has some flaws that you’d be happy to change.

Here’s my list of the most annoying things I’ve found as a QlikView consultant. If you’ve been creating apps for a while I’m sure that you’ll relate to some of them…

 

Splash screen

First things first: we will start our list with the splash screen. For those of you who are not familiarized with this term, the splash screen is that green window that pops up every time you open QlikView and disappears almost immediately. (I know… “immediately” is a vague term.)

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If you’re developing small applications in your PC this will hardly be an issue. However, if your computer lacks capacity, you work with multiple QVWs at the same time or have an important presentation with key customers, it tends to… linger a little more than usual.

Typically you can click on it and start working right away, but when this little friend it’s not in the mood, it stays there blocking your visibility even if you change the active window. Sometimes it stays green, other times it turns black, Continue reading