Last week saw the first full release of Qlik Sense. The new product from the people that brought you QlikView. There is already a lot of information about the product out there and this post seeks to guide you through this.
This Is Not QlikView 12
Qlik Sense has been quite a long time in gestation. It has for the last couple of years been referred to as QlikView.next, which has caused some confusion over whether it is superseding the existing product or not. The recent re-branding of QlikTech to Qlik allowed them to have scope for various streams to their offerings under a single company umbrella and the first major example of this is Qlik Sense.
The important thing to remember here is that QlikView will have separate yet parallel existences. Support for and development of QlikView is going to continue for some time yet. A clear vision for how the products differ has now been conveyed, with QlikView still being the product of choice for “guided analytics” where Qlik Sense is more for allowing users to freely explore data and create their own visualisations.
This has been set out clearly by Henric Cronström of Qlik in his recent blog post:
It is good to see that whilst these are separate products that each product will benefit in future from having features moved across from the other – that we will be seeing some of the advanced charting options in QlikView is excellent news.
Great! Where Do I Start?
First of all you will want to be downloading a copy of Qlik Sense Desktop and getting that installed. Presently this is the only version of Sense available, and it is free to use.
You can download Qlik Sense from this link:
This version is a Windows Desktop pre-cursor to the Qlik Sense Server product that is due out next month. Details of how Qlik Sense will be licenced will be made available next month, and at this point details of the licencing model will be made available.
The download is a simple Windows installer and Sense can be installed by double clicking the EXE and following the prompts. Once installed Qlik Sense will exist on your Windows menu and, if you selected it to do so, your Dekstop.
Qlik are keen that everyone is given the assistance they need to be able to use this app. On downloading you will be directed to a help screen, you will be emailed some helpful links and at the bottom of the main screen in Qlik Sense Desktop is a Getting Started link. You can’t go far wrong here.
Step By Step Help
The links you go to have two main sources of help. The first is an excellent series of videos created by Michael Tarralo and Josh Good, the complete list of which can be found here:
If you work your way through these you will know everything you need to get up and running. The new Quick Data Load, you will notice, is a vastly simplified way of getting data into the app (just drag and drop), and there is a video dedicated to this process.
The other source of help for Qlik Sense (as it is for QlikView) is the Qlik Community. There is a new area dedicated to Qlik Sense, and indeed the main Community page is now split between QlikView and Qlik Sense content. There are many discussions already started on there, with users asking questions about the product and Qlik staff being quick at this important stage to respond and clarify any questions. If you want a deeper dive into what is happening with the product reading these threads is a good idea:
The whole point of Qlik Sense though is that it is intuitive, so the best way to find out how it works is to dive in and get creating.
Since Sense landed last week there has been a lot of discussion about the product and many QlikView bloggers have turned their focus to Qlik Sense. A few of these posts are listed here:
The Same, But Different
As Henric points out there are many things which have been carried across from QlikView in to Qlik Sense, and the architecture it sits upon is largely the same. I remember being very pleased at the Business Discovery Tour last year when I saw that the load script in .Next looked much like it does in QlikView – that is still the case in Qlik Sense. It is possible to import a load script from a QlikView document into Qlik Sense – but not any charts etc. – as these are fundamentally different between the platforms.
This means that much of the ecosystem that has grown up around QlikView will continue to work and grow with Qlik Sense. Extensions created for QlikView will work in Sense, so some visualisations are portable. I was also very pleased to learn that Qlik Sense will be able to load from QVSource based sources, as Chris reported on the ICB blog:
Seeing how these two new siblings grow up together is going to be interesting. It is good to know that the new product is very much built on the solid foundations of its big brother. It is just not restrained by some of the things which perhaps hold QlikView back, which has been backwardly compatible for many, many versions.
Shiny New Toys
There are lots of things to be excited about with Qlik Sense, and I am very much looking forward to rolling this out with customers over the coming months and years. All of the charts and graphs feel very fluid to use and there are some great UI touches. The way the display flexes as you resize the window in Desktop gives a good glimpse into what Qlik Sense will be like on Mobile. If usage of Qlik Sense Desktop feels a bit “webby” then that is because it is entirely browser based, with the Windows app providing a shell onto this. When Qlik Sense Server lands and is rolled out, users on any platform (including tablets and Macs) will be able to connect to the server and create apps in exactly the same way as their Windows counterparts.
Personally, I have been most impressed this past week or so with the ease of dropping geographical objects into a Qlik Sense app. There is native support for KML mapping files, which allow you to create data connected maps. I have already found that the NHS provide KML definitions for their CCG areas, so this provides a great new way for displaying data for my UK pharma clients.
Another enticing prospect is hinted at with the cloud icon nestled at the top right of the Sense Desktop Hub. My understanding is that there will be a service where you can upload your Qlik Sense apps to the cloud for public consumption. Whilst this is perhaps limited in scope due to data that is less than public, the ability for people to publish data in a Sense app on their website means the product will get a whole lot more exposure. We could be seeing a lot more Qlik out there, and it can regain some of the ground lost to other products in this regard. Exactly how the Qlik Cloud will work in practice remains to be seen. As the website says, it is “Coming soon”.
A Very Bright Future
There is a lot to be excited about with Qlik Sense, and I am happy to be along for the ride here. These are still early days and the potential of the product is even more exciting than what we have now. How things pan out between now and the end of the year, with the Qlik Sense Server release and details of the new licencing model, is crucial for how the product is received and the in-roads it can make in the market place.
For now I am happy that I can show off a tool that is truly next generation and has lots of new toys to play with.