Over the years I have seen many QlikView apps, created by many different developers and analysts. Even now, I still come across apps where silly mistakes are made. Here is my list of things that really shouldn’t be happening in your apps – and how to fix them.
Objects Out Of Alignment
QlikView has a number of tools for aligning and distributing objects on the page. This means there really is no excuse for not having a tidy, uniform, app. To use these alignment tools multi select objects by dragging a box around them, shift clicking captions or use Ctrl+A to select all objects on a sheet.
The buttons are the ones that look like this on the toolbar:
If you don’t have these buttons then right click in space on the toolbar and select the Design menu.
Note that you can also make the size of objects uniform by dragging and resizing when multiple objects are selected. By using alignment and resizing you can make it look like a lot more care has been taken on your app – people will then trust what it is telling them more.
Redundant And Confusing Minimise/Maximise Icons
The ability to Minimise and Maximise charts is something that I rarely use in QlikView, and personally I don’t feel it is a good idea to do so. The expand feature in Qlik Sense, works reasonably intuitively, but in my experience users get confused in QlikView when everything vanishes except for one massive chart. Unless these icons are an integral part of your user interface design (using auto minimise functionality, for example) just turn them off. The result otherwise is unnecessary clutter:
Do this on the Caption tab of Chart Properties.
This is one of the things I mention in my blog and video about cleaning charts, I won’t list all the other items from that blog post here (though they could pretty much all make the list).
Note that the Magnifying Glass icons on ListBoxes are also redundant, as searching can always be done by clicking on a list box Caption and starting to type (it always amazes me that people can use QlikView for some time and not know they can do this).
Messed Up Column Alignment
The default alignment settings for columns in QlikView are a stab at helping people get things right without knowing anything about their data. They are seldom what you would actually want though. When you have a list of ID’s, and the ones with alpha characters go to the left and the one that are just numbers go right – it just looks a mess. To my mind, also, the column label should be aligned with the data in the column beneath it.
The radio buttons where column alignment is set can be found on the Presentation tab.
For the best look ensure that all three radio buttons are selected in a line. Also consider the correct alignment for the column, having dates to the right because they are a number does not make sense.
Another quick tip whilst we are on the Presentation tab, the Dropdown Select option is generally worth ticking – as it allows a quick search of a field and has very little downside.
No Defined Number Format
When there is no defined number format the result can also look messy. An obvious example is a varying number of decimal places in a column, but numbers with more than three digits without a separator are also hard to read.
Fix this on the Number tab of Chart and ListBox properties.
The option is not available in TableBox properties, so you need to set it in Document Properties instead, or format numbers with the Num function in the load script (this second approach is best practice).
Another quick tip here; if you have numbers with many decimal places, and lots of distinct values, then using the Round function in the load script can save a lot of memory and improve performance.
Badly Named Fields And Unused Fields
An important part of building any BI app is to ensure that data in cleansed on the way into the app. This includes giving fields names that are meaningful to the user – which is hardly ever the case in underlying databases.
Carrying out this process also has the advantage that you can identify fields that can be discarded during the load. Renaming fields makes things much easier for future development, and removing them can yield major performance gains. Make this part of the initial design process, as it is often tricky to go back and fix these things once an app is live with many objects built on the data model.
The Wrong Chart Type For A Visualisation
There are a number ‘golden rules’ for data visualisation. If you are producing documents in QlikView or Qlik Sense you should be aware of these. Get a book like Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design. I could reference many different crimes against design here (chart junk, misuse of colour) but the one I want to pick out is the incorrect choice of chart.
For example, you should never have a line chart over a non-sequential dimension value.
Something that is very useful in QlikView, but can cause problems is the Fast Change option on the General tab of Properties. This allows you to toggle from one chart type to another (I often use it for switching to a table of data for a chart). However, if you are not careful you can allow users to toggle from a valid chart type to an incorrect one. Also, other mistakes can slip in – for example if you have a line chart that doesn’t start at zero (which is perfectly valid) a Fast Change to bar chart will cause you to have an incorrect visualisation.
An excellent resource for ensuring you pick the right chart type is this blog post by Patrik Lundblad.
These are just a few of the mistakes I see made time and time again in QlikView, none of which are difficult to fix. There are many more besides these. Many of the other issues I see have been covered elsewhere on this blog, such as over-complicating design or not putting in enough thought before kicking off a project.
The rule of thumb is to consider everything carefully and take pride in the work you are producing. Remember these things and you will not go far wrong.
How To Fix QlikView Application Issues
- Use the tools to align objects
- Remove redundant object icons
- Use the correct column alignment
- Properly define all number formats
- Rename all fields to sensible names
- Ensure you pick the correct chart types
- Carefully consider all aspects of your application