Every Qlik Sense update brings changes that have an effect on the comfort of working with this popular Business Intelligence tool. What changes did last year bring, and what new functionalities did Qlik gain after a facelift? I invite you to familiarize yourself with a brief summary of 2019 in Qlik. We will also try to look to the future and find the answer to the question: Will we soon be able to do without external providers’ extensions?
New Qlik every 10 weeks
In a trend also observable with other Business Intelligence tool providers, Qlik has decided to regularly provide updates for its current flagship tool – Qlik Sense. The time between releases, often containing new, useful functionalities, is now even as short as 10 weeks. Thanks to these frequent updates, we can take delight in new functionalities that bring measurable benefits to users every few weeks. It also guarantees that the tool we use is constantly being improved and adapted to the latest standards. As for extensions, they are published by external providers and developers on the Qlik Branch portal.
In this article, I will try to answer a question that many users may already be asking themselves right now. Will it be possible to cope without third-party extensions thanks to the ongoing improvements provided by Qlik? Let’s take a look at recent changes in Qlik and the extensions available there. In particular, I would like to focus on the extensions available in the April 2019 version of Qlik Sense.
To begin with, a brief summary of what the year 2019 brought in terms of Qlik. It’s fair to say that Qlik Sense February 2019 was a groundbreaking release. It introduced a number of changes, such as:
Improvements available in visualizations such as: Funnel Chart, Sankey Chart, Radar Chart, Heat Map, KPI, Word Cloud Chart, Network Chart,
Adding a Share Button object to the Bundle visualization,
Providing Qlik Sense Mobile for Android devices,
The possibility to open Mash-ups from a mobile application,
Preview option for Dollar-Sign expressions,
Single Page Application Flow (possibility of scrolling the page).
Subsequent versions have also brought a lot of interesting changes that have significantly improved the basic version of Qlik Sense and made working with it much easier, from the perspective of both the end-user and the developer. New visualizations have appeared, and existing ones have had a makeover of sorts. Novelties have also appeared in Qlik Sense Mobile. In addition, 2019 brought the possibility of independent implementation of Qlik Sense Enterprise in the SaaS model. Find a summary of all the significant changes to Qlik Sense in 2019 below.
News in charts
New visualizations included in the Visualization Bundle have already appeared in the April 2019 version. Some of them are: bar and area charts (Bar & Area Chart) and bullet charts.
Bar & Area Chart in Qlik Sense April 2019 (source: help.qlik.com)
Bullet Chart in Qlik Sense April 2019 (source: help.qlik.com)
A new feature in Qlik Sense June 2019 was the addition of a container object to native extensions, which was previously available in the Qlik Bundle. Now it works much faster, which is a very important aspect when a large number of objects are placed in the report.
Container Object in Qlik Sense June 2019 (source: own work)
Another new visualization is the Trellis container, which gives us the option of adding a trellis chart to compare the metrics of different data groups. The grid displayed makes it easier to compare different values on a chart. The trellis chart was previously available in QlikView, and it was also added to the Qlik Sense June 2019 version.
Trellis Chart in Qlik Sense June 2019 (source: help.qlik.com)
The P&L pivot chart is a particularly important new feature for organizations which use Qlik Sense for reporting financial data and creating profit and loss reports. This extension is available in the Qlik Visualization Bundle.
P&L pivot chart in Qlik Sense June 2019 (source: help.qlik.com)
Another new visualization that is useful and commonly used, especially for financial applications, is the Variance Waterfall chart. This can be used, for example, to compare actual values with forecasted ones.
Improving existing visualizations
News in maps
Existing visualizations have also gained a new look. Many users, e.g. from the logistics industry, have been waiting for the opportunity to change the default background provided by Qlik for map charts. Thanks to the changes introduced in the April 2019 version, users can now change the default background of map charts. This means that Qlik runs even better in terms of logistics processes. In courier companies, for example, areas are often divided according to an individual key other than the administrative division into cities, municipalities or counties. Such a solution also enables the presentation of maps tailored to the needs of a specific recipient.
In the context of maps, the September 2019 version also saw changes implemented, namely the possibility of displaying user locations on map objects. All we need is to click the button to download the location from the device. This definitely facilitates working outside with the use of mobile devices. Another new feature from the September version is the possibility of excluding individual map layers from automatic zooming. This gives more control over the appearance of the map.
The June 2019 version brought an improved bar chart – now users can display stacked bars. This feature is especially helpful when comparing more complex data and makes it easier to visualize. It is also possible to create charts without dimensions (with measures only), as well as to set e.g. bar width.
Styles in the Bar chart in Qlik Sense June 2019 (source: own work)
In the September 2019 version, pie charts have gained similar functions. The November 2019 version brought better personalization of the table – options for adjusting the size and color of text in the headers and individual columns of the table were added.
An increasing number of companies are focusing on cloud solutions – this trend is also visible in the case of Business Intelligence tools. As part of the update in April 2019, the option of the independent implementation of Qlik Sense Enterprise in the SaaS model was made available. In practice, this means that it is possible to use the Qlik Sense application entirely in the Qlik-hosted cloud. Qlik Connectors were adapted to this model, as they already had the option to support corporate data sources in a SaaS environment.
Features that make daily work easier
Numerous changes in Qlik in 2019 helped to facilitate the daily work of both end users and developers. In June 2019, Qlik provided the option to copy values from tables to the clipboard. Previously, it was necessary to use external extensions to be able to do this. This solution significantly facilitates work, both in terms of testing the application implemented by the project teams and everyday use by end-users.
Another option available as part of the Qlik Sense summer update was the option to choose a report rendering layout for mobile devices. This allows for better layout and use of space in the reports.
Copy values to the clipboard in Qlik Sense June 2019 (source: own work)
It is worth noting the change implemented in the next version, September 2019, in the context of thesearch tool. The character limit in the filter panel has been increased from 255 to 5000, which allows for more efficient use of the tool.
Changes for developers
In 2019, new products were also important from the perspective of developers. The September 2019 update offered developers the option of choosing a default spreadsheet that will open to end users while launching the application. This allows for better control over analysis.
Qlik Sense Mobile
New features have also appeared in Qlik Sense Mobile. Thanks to the June 2019 version, Qlik Sense administrators now have the possibility of sending system notifications to users of the Qlik Sense Mobile application. It is now possible to define these notifications so that they are sent to everyone or to specific user groups. The Qlik Sense November 2019 update gave Android users the option to use Qlik Sense Mobile offline.
Qlik Sense – do we still need external extensions?
Do we still need extensions of external providers for Qlik Sense due to constant improvements and recent updates? The best answer would be: it depends. Each implementation of Business Intelligence is unique, tailored to the specific client’s needs. Companies like Vizlib provide plenty of possibilities in their library facilities. However, it cannot be denied that many functionalities previously available only in external extensions are now available to the user in the basic version provided by Qlik. Given the interval at which new versions of Qlik Sense appear, I predict that over time the tool will become even better. I hope that in the future it will allow users to opt out of external extensions.
Analyzing even the last few versions of Qlik Sense, we can see how Qlik has improved its product. At this point, it addresses even more of the current needs of users, who often report them directly to the provider. The development of Qlik Sense is also in line with the latest trends in the development of Business Intelligence tools, providing new functionalities in short periods of time. I hope that my review will help current users make optimal use of the new functionalities of the Qlik Sense tool.
An enthusiast of QlikView and Qlik Sense solutions and a Business Intelligence consultant at JCommerce. A graduate of the Jagiellonian University and the University of Economics in Krakow. A fan of music in every form.
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