According to the rule adopted a few years ago, every 10 weeks Qlik releases an updated version of the Qlik Sense tool. This year, three versions have already been released: in February, April, and June. In the article, I will cover the changes that the new versions of this popular Business Intelligence tool have brought for users and developers alike.
Business Intelligence vs. the pandemic
The events of 2020 proved that the ability to react quickly to changes is a guarantee of success (and not only in business). Business Intelligence tools and applications have proven to be useful, and not only in our everyday tasks. Today, companies are looking for proven data analysis tools more intensively than ever before, because of the need to optimize costs and build a suitable strategy in crisis situations. Qlik understands these needs and is consistently improving its flagship product – the Qlik Sense tool. Here is a brief overview of what’s new in Qlik Sense in 2020.
Better expanded intelligence in Qlik Sense
Fig. 1 – Associative insights Source: own research
Currently, the main trend in Business Intelligence tools is using the potential of Artificial Intelligence. In just the February 2020 version, a number of improvements have been made in terms of natural language processing. NLP in the Qlik Cognitive Engine is much better at detecting patterns, and hence is guided by more accurate suggestions. The function for generating conclusions, which is familiar from previous versions of Qlik Sense, is improving with every subsequent version. Associative Insights provide the opportunity to gain insight into relationships that exist in the data, especially those that may have been missed. In addition, the mechanism now allows users to generate a radar chart, which is helpful when we want to make a comparison based on several features. It allows us to present some value taking many variables into account. It can be used, for example, to compare the pros and cons of a given equipment or solution, the performance of team members, or to create charts of an organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
Changes in visualizations
Charts – line, bar, combo
Charts is a feature that users who have previously used QlikView are perfectly familiar with. It only appeared in Qlik Sense in February 2020, and the latest versions have brought significant improvements.
Trend lines – before, in order to see trend lines, developers had to manually enter the appropriate formula. Trend lines are now available with just one click in both line and bar charts.
New modifiers – bar, line and combo charts have also gained the option of adding new modifiers that support e.g. moving averages. The expressions generated can be copied and optionally edited. In addition, the same line charts now have the option to individually stylize lines for individual measures by editing parameters such as line thickness, line style (continuous or dashed), line curve (smooth or straight) or vertical presentation. This is a significant facility for users of these visualizations.
Relative modifier – another modifier added in the April 2020 version is the relative (percentage) one. We can now use it without the need for developers to enter expression syntax.
Better personalization – Users who want to personalize the map object can now add any images visible as points on the map. For example, we can insert a company’s logo as a point on the map, for example to show its location.
Fig. 2 Your own image as a point on the map. Source: own research
New charts in Qlik Sense
In the April version, Qlik released a new object called an organizational chart. This allows us to create charts with a tree structure to show the organizational structure in a company, for example. What possibilities does such a chart offer? Users can navigate through the hierarchy, expanding and collapsing particular branches of the chart. In the latest version (June 2020), this chart has been further improved to offer the possibility of changing border colors, automatic resizing or going to the home page thanks to a new button.
Fig. Organization chart Source: help.qlik.com
You can see that Qlik strongly focuses on customization. Also, the KPI object has gained more options in terms of font layout. This solves the problem of invisible headers in the KPI object which were familiar from previous versions of Qlik Sense. Now users can choose between:
fixed layout (the text size is always the same),
smooth layout (the text size depends on the field size),
fully responsive (adapts to the size of the field and length of the text).
With the June 2020 version, a new feature called the bullet chart appeared. This is a visualization that allows us to display KPIs in a non-standard form. This chart replaces the previous scatter chart that was part of the visualization package.
Fig. Bullet chart Source: help.qlik.com
Summary of changes within charts:
Customization – the main change in charts in 2020 is that they all have the option of setting a custom label by defining it as a measure. The button object has also been given greater customization options.
Facilities for developers – a useful facility for developers is the option to create a main dimension based on dimensions previously created directly in the object on the report with just one click. Previously, one had to copy the formula and manually create the element in a separate location.
Larger font selection – a useful change is the extension of the font family selection used in visualizations in Qlik Sense, which allows us to adjust reports to fonts used in other systems or documents in your organization.
Bookmarks – the November 2019 version enabled the application of a default selection (specific bookmark) for the application. Now customization is also available while opening specific spreadsheets in the application. When it comes to bookmarks, the April 2020 version introduced the option to share bookmarks in published applications. We can now share them via other channels, such as e-mail or Slack.
Is it worth updating Qlik Sense?
Qlik once again proves that, even in an advanced product such as Qlik Sense, it is possible to introduce regular improvements and add new functionalities, which are important for both end users and developers of Qlik reports. As a Qlik tools consultant, clients often ask me whether it is worth deciding on a given update. Often, clients are afraid of change because they are used to older versions. They find them fully functional and feel convinced that they don’t need new visualizations. As the past year has shown, the ability to adapt to changes and openness are the basis of success, and not only in business. Subsequent updates not only mean new functions or “fireworks” in visualization, but also bug fixes or improvements to the application engine, which have a significant impact on working with the system.
It is worth updating Business Intelligence tools on a regular basis as these solutions are constantly being developed. Qlik gives more and more options in terms of using Artificial Intelligence and creating customized charts. Not only do users gain new functionalities and improvements, but also the certainty of working with a stable tool. Nowadays it is particularly important, as it facilitates everyday work in many industries and gives a sense of security. We gain this security thanks to knowledge about what is happening in our organization, how it relates to the current situation, and the changes and decisions that are made.
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.
Would you like to learn more about the possibilities of cooperation? Do you have a question? Write to us!