Often I go onto a new (or prospective) client site and have a limited amount of time to impress any number of people from a cold start. It’s days like these I am pleased to have QlikView in my kit bag! But even with the right tools you still need something to give you that edge. I often find that QlikView themes can be that something.
Introducing QlikView Theme Files
For the uninitiated a theme file is a simple XML document that contains any number of settings that can be applied to a QlikView document at a global, sheet or object level. The most common use is for simple look and feel settings – but there is scope to use them for much more than that if required.
The beauty of a QlikView themes is that they can be prepared in advance with no access to client data or site. If you apply it as soon as you start; the very first list box you add to a page has a border in the corporate palette and is in a sensible font etc..
Getting Started With QlikView Themes
When starting a theme file I always start from one I’ve prepared earlier – often with a similar colour scheme to the one I am looking to produce. Once any client specific graphics are stripped out (using a text editor to remove the binary chunks and the tags around them) I could use the file as it stands. However, with about an hours work this can be transformed into something unique and impressive for the client.
The Tools of the Trade
The key to getting the theme right is to borrow from the company website – but apply some good design practice on top of that. To grab images I use TechSmith’s Jing, colours with a widget called ColorPix and image manipulation is with an old version of PhotoImpact – your tools of choice will no doubt differ.
Ensure that you keep things clean and simple. I tend to have a 60px high banner as a wallpaper and a very near white background, all objects with the same caption colour – with the exception of the Current Selections box. Often I will have two or three versions of a client theme; as the logo tends to be nestled in the top right corner (keep it small and unobtrusive) and different themes are required for different target resolutions.
I won’t go into details of the how to create a theme here. Suffice to say though, for me, the investment of an hour or so before a new engagement can certainly be worthwhile.
Carry a Fully Loaded ToolBox
Also on the topic of themes, having a few theme files with specific purposes can be useful. I have QlikView themes for removing shadow from all objects, removing screen-junk from caption bars and setting charts to predefined sizes. Often you need to use a text editor to perfect these (or any theme file) but the XML is easy to navigate so this is not an issue.
Theme files probably deserve a tutorial blog post at some point soon (watch this space) but I hope this has given you some insight into why you should use them.
This blog post is part of the series where I give tips based on situations I have found myself in, which started with the post on Deleting Your QlikView Apps.
Look out for the next post on Exposing Your Data.