QlikView is, of course, my software of choice. However, I would not want to be going on client site to do a job without some other tools in my kit bag. Read on to find out the QlikView development tools I use. Which of these do you use? What other tools should I consider?
Back at the Business Discovery World Tour in 2011 QlikTech were talking of how they were encouraging third party developers to enrich the QlikView offering, rather than trying to build everything into the product themselves. The main thrust of this, at the time, was the introduction of QlikView Extensions. Spin on a couple of years though and more importantly than that, a thriving ecosystem of third party tools has matured around QlikView. The best place to discover some of these tools is on the QlikMarket.
In this blog post I want to bring to your attention some of those tools that I use to improve my QlikView life.
You have no doubt already heard that QlikView will connect to just about any data source. That is great, but what about when you want to connect to one of the others? This is where QVSource steps in. Running as a service on your machine it allows you to connect to other data sources – most notably on-line databases and API’s, such as those used for sentiment analysis and text analytics.
I use it frequently to pull down data from Google Analytics and monitor the reach of this site. Connectors to services like Twitter and Facebook are also good for demos, and indeed you can find a number of QVSource powered demos on-line.
If the particular source you need to connect to is not already covered by QVSource you can contact the developers – who I have always found to be most helpful and willing to add new features.
UPDATE: QVSource is now an official Qlik product – Qlik Web Connectors.
A relative newcomer to my toolkit; QViewer has quick become one of the apps that I wonder how I got by without. Once it is installed you can double click on any QVD and it will bring the contents up in a tabular view. Profiling of the data can be done simply and intuitively without any coding. Searching for values within the QVD is also supported.
There are many occasions when I want to dive deeper into looking at the contents of QVDs (and I have built QlikView apps for doing just this) but as a quick and easy route to do this; QViewer is hard to fault. Given the low cost of QViewer, if you have ever created a QVD, you should buy it.
QlikView Document Analyzer
Rob Wunderlich has produced many useful little tools and some very helpful example files in the shape of his QlikView Cookbook. The tool that I frequently turn to, and want to draw your attention to here is the QlikView Document Analyzer. It is a QlikView document itself, that you point towards one of your own QlikView documents. The Document Analyzer then reads the metadata from your document and profiles this for you. It gives a view of many different aspects of the profiled document – but where I find it most useful is showing a client just how many fields they have pulled into their apps that they have not actually used anywhere. This enables you to prune your apps and make them much more efficient easing the load on your server.
Printed reports in QlikView (as I have mentioned previously) are not one of it’s strongest features. Scheduling output and sharing it via email (with Publisher) can be cost prohibitive to some organisations. NPrinting steps in to address both of these issues.
Sitting alongside QlikView it allows users to pull data straight out of their QlikView documents into applications such as Excel and Word. The scheduler can then produce versions of these documents for a number of different recipients (with different subsets of data) and distribute them via email. This is great when users only need a read only view (removing the need for a QlikView licence for that user) or when data needs to be pushed to users pro-actively.
For many, this application fills in some of the crucial gaps in QlikView.
TortoiseSVN / Subversion
It was long considered a major omission in the QlikView product set that there was no way of doing proper source code control. The introduction of the Project folder addressed that to an extent – but actually doing the Check In and Merge of code was very manual. As of QlikView 11 hooks have been added into QlikView to allow the use of third party source code control tools.
TortoiseSVN is in use at a couple of my clients and manages the creation of projects and check out/check in process well. It may not be for everyone, as the time overhead of creating the project folder adds to development time, but if you have more than one developer amending the same Qlikview document; using TortoiseSVN saves a lot of headaches. You may chose to use it if you are a sole developer if you want the ability to do roll backs of select changes in your QlikView document to a prior state.
Whilst not strictly a QlikView tool, this developers text editor deserves mention here thanks to the QlikView language syntax highlighting definition produced by Matt Fryer. Notepad++ has all the features you would expect in a text editor of this kind and quite a few you might not. If you use include files in your applications (as I have discussed on this blog) then you should consider this Notepad++ for editing them.
This next tool is not a QlikView tool at all, but it deserves a mention as I now can’t imagine my life without it. SnagIt is a screen capture tool with every whistle and bell you could possibly want thrown in.
Capture any area or window on the screen, manipulate it and then send it out to any number of locations other services. Where it has a real application in a QlikView environment is when building a quick QlikView theme based on a company’s website. It can also be very helpful when distributing screenshots from QlikView apps – thanks to the ability to blur areas of your screen-grab, to hide any sensitive information. A great tool, and one I highly recommend.
Going slightly off the topic of tools I feel exposed without, these are a couple of third party apps that are established and well used – but I personally have yet to implement in a live environment.
Most people are aware that you can integrate the Google Maps API into QlikView to plot points on a map. This is relatively inexpensive and covers a lot of mapping requirements. However, when you need to do something that goes beyond the native capabilities of the Google Maps API and QlikView – you may want to turn to either GeoQlik or Idevio Maps.
Other Quick Mentions
Finally a couple of quick mentions, and again I am veering slightly off the QlikView track here, of a couple of small apps that I use quite frequently. A quick Search and Replace tool, known simply as SR32, which allows me to quickly interrogate the contents of text files – be they CSV data sources, XML files (such as QlikView themes or config files) or QlikView log files. The other quick mention is a tool for grabbing RGB colour codes from the screen, ColorPix, which is a great time saver when creating a QlikView theme that mirrors the look and feel of a company web-site.
Neither of these tools will change your life, but they may well save you a few minutes each time you use them.
There you have it! My list of tools that work for me alongside QlikView to deliver inspired solutions to my clients. There may be some on there you use already, and some that you can’t live without that I am not aware of. Please let me know of any other great add-ons in the comments below.