Qlik Sense June 2017 Release – First Impressions

For those of you who follow Qlik closely, you’ll have noticed that the Qlik Sense June 2017 (or 17.06) Technical Preview has been released. This is the first in the new release naming convention and cadence – now five times per year.

Having seen it demonstrated at Qonnections, we were excited to get our hands on it. So as soon as it came out I installed the Desktop version to start familiarising ourselves with the new features. The data I decided to use was the electricity generated by the solar panels on my home roof which is logged at 15-minute increments.

The first thing you’ll see when loading data in is a range of new options in the Data Manager…

Measure Suggestions & Tools

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 1

Here you can see that Qlik Sense has recommended the selected field should be a measure and shown a histogram of the frequency of values in that field – including the min, median, average and max statistics. Qlik Sense has also suggested that, since this has numerical values they could be put into buckets. All of this can be customised, but Qlik Sense makes some good guesses.

Dimension Suggestions & Tools

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 2

In this screenshot, you can see what analysis – range and uniqueness – and options – the split tool – Qlik Sense presents when you select a dimension field. The split tool allows you to break a dimension field down, which is common for things like date/time fields, phone numbers or composite keys in source data.

(Yes, I know the split location looks wrong – that’s what I had to do to make the preview look right – I’ve logged a bug about that)

If you select a field that has fewer distinct values, you get a different set of tools:

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 3
Here you can see that I have the choice to replace values in the DayofWeek field – perhaps I want to group my Sat & Sun into one value called “Weekend” – I can do that here.

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 4
I can null values if I want to ignore those in a chart for some reason – here I’ve done that with some errors from the source data.

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 5
And here’s how you set custom sort orders – drag & drop interface for setting the default sort order.

Please note that not every combination of these tools works with every other one – for instance you can do Order & Split together but not Nullify/Replace with Order.

What’s going on behind the scenes?

With all this in the data manager, what’s going on in the Data Load Editor? The script that Data Manager generates is all there and viewable – locked by default.

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 6
New chart types

Once you’ve got your data imported using this new interface, you’ll see some three new charts you can use:

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 7
Histogram – you just select a numerical field and it shows you the frequency distribution of values. You can customise the buckets (number or size of them), but that’s about it – so there will be scenarios where you want to use the buckets in the data load and a bar chart to achieve histogram-like charts with more flexibility.

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 8
Box plot – this is something that has been much-requested – especially by the statisticians among us. While I’m not a statistician, I can see the value here. You select a couple of dimensions and a measure and it will do the box plot for you. You can choose from Standard (Tukey), Percentile-based or Standard deviation as presets or you can customise your own:

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 9
In this case I chose to use the percentiles preset, setting the whisker lines at the 1st and 99th percentiles with the box ends at the 1st and 3rd quartiles and the line being the median. The dots are the “outliers” – there tends to be at least one each month as I only have 14 months of data in there so there are only up to 62 days for analysis, so they’re effectively the minimum and maximums within the months.

qlik-sense-june-2017-release-10-e1497954761945.png
Distribution Plot – a simpler, less statistical, chart that, similarly to the box plot takes a dimension or two and a measure. Here we can see each day’s generation plotted in its month, visualising the minimum, maximum and range of each month.

Consistent Colours for Dimensions

Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 11
Qlik Sense June 2017 Release 12
Enhancing the “Colour by dimension” functionality, here we can see that I’ve set custom colours for the months, inspired by someone with synaesthesia who sees the months as these colours. For example, this could be useful in your sales performance app – setting a consistent colour for each salesperson to be used across the app.

Not yet reviewed

There are a few things we’ve not covered here because we’ve not had enough time to test them just yet:

  • iOS app including offline support – we’ve got this installed and are starting to test it now.
  • Advanced Analytics, including R integration. Qlik have just published the details of setting this up – we’ve got it running but want to work with it a little more before sharing our thoughts.
  • Platform component updates – in this blog we’re been looking at the end-user experience, but the removal of the requirement for a single “central node” certainly looks interesting and a good step forward for resilience. The Enterprise Mobility compatibility (MobileIron, AirWatch & Blackberry) will certainly appeal to some of our more security-and-mobility focussed customers too.

Summary

This is a really exciting release of Qlik Sense – great new features across the board serving the end users, power users, enterprises, IT administrators and more. We can’t wait to get our hands on the other features we’ve not been able to test yet and the final release when it comes out.

Next steps

Most people should now wait until the final release to get these features and then look to upgrade at that point. However, if you’re a Qlik customer and keen to get hands on, you can also join the Technical Preview that will run until 26 June. To do this, just visit the community page and register. Health warning: this isn’t recommended for anything approaching a Production environment and it may stop working altogether after the 26 June deadline and/or you may have to uninstall it completely before being able to upgrade to the final release when that comes out.

Some useful pages in that community include:

  • What’s New – a good summary of the new features, although lacking in a little detail so some can be hard to find! Also note that it’s listing some items that aren’t actually new in this release of Qlik Sense – like new Web Connectors and Qlik Sense Cloud features.
  • Advanced Analytics video – first half of this shows some of the things the R integration will be able to do.

 

Alex Walker
Service Delivery Manager

NPrinting 17.2 Review – Three Steps Forward and One Step Back

For those who don’t already know, Qlik NPrinting is a content distribution tool for the Qlik Platform. It enables the distribution of static reports in various widely-used formats such as Word, PowerPoint and HTML.

A brief history

NPrinting 17 (NP17) is the result of the project code-named “Opera” – which was started before Qlik acquired Vizubi and finally came to fruition early in 2016. It’s fair to say the first two releases (17.0 and 17.1) weren’t quite ready for primetime, but 17.2 is a great step forward in reliability as well as functionality.

The NPrinting story so far…

  • 17.0 was the first release in the series – introducing web-based management of reports, schedules and related items. In version 16 and before this had all been done through a Windows application.
  • 17.1 introduced initial compatibility with Qlik Sense (QS). Previously it was a QlikView-only product and it became known as “Qlik NPrinting” not “QlikView NPrinting” at this point.
  • 17.2 was mostly a stability and performance release, but did also re-introduce the On-Demand functionality for QlikView (QV).

I’ve worked with NPrinting since 2012 (when it was Excel-only and being developed by Vizubi) and I have the honour of being the first ever certified NPrinting developer! I’ve been using 17.2 for the last couple of months and, combined with my experiences around earlier releases, here is my considered opinion.

nprinting-image-1
Alex being presented his NPrinting Developer Certificate by Vizubi’s Aran Nathanson,
now Qlik NPrinting Product Manager.

New architecture and delivery mechanisms

NPrinting 17 is a massive step forwards in terms of enterprise architecture – adding web-based management and report consumption, multi-user capabilities including permissions management. It keeps the familiar flexible structure of previous releases with Connections, Tasks, Reports, Filters and so on.

nprinting-1
The new NPrinting 17 web interface.

It adds two new distribution methods:

  1. NPrinting NewsStand – here users can see which reports they have access to and can subscribe to have them generated and/or sent to them on a schedule of their choosing.
  2. Qlik Sense Hub – you can push NPrinting reports into the Qlik Sense Hub so users have one place to go to consume all of their Qlik information. (Note: QlikView Publisher can do this now too – heading towards what Qlik are calling the “Unified Hub”.) The process for getting this up and running isn’t exactly slick, but once done, it’s a useful additional delivery mechanism.

nprinting-2
The Qlik Unified Hub – Qlik Sense, NPrinting & QlikView.

Additional compatibility

“Qlik Sense compatibility” is more true for this release than it was for 17.1 (where you’d often have reports fail if based on QS), but it still doesn’t come with all the functionality of the QlikView side of the tool.

The Select Objects dialog has improved with 17.2, now showing the IDs that you can (if no other way than via the dev hub single configurator) trace back to objects in the Qlik Sense app – which may be useful if you haven’t or can’t set a Name.

nprinting-3

One of the main limitations remains – that you don’t get to see previews of the Qlik Sense objects when you drop them into your template. Instead you just get a generic icon which can make designing your reports quite tricky.

nprinting-4

That said, when you do view a report, they look great. No issues with scaling here: since Qlik Sense has a fully responsive interface, the objects you embed flex as you resize them to fit your slide, document or web page…

nprinting-5
Example PowerPoint report with Qlik Sense objects embedded.

What’s missing?

As you can see from the three major releases this year, Qlik are actively developing NPrinting and I’m sure they have these ideas in mind, but here are some of the things I think should be on the roadmap:

  • Previewing of Qlik Sense objects in reports. As identified above, this is probably the most limiting factor right now.
  • Embedding reports into HTML emails. This was one of my favourite things in NPrinting 16 – embed the actual chart / KPI etc. in an email so the end user doesn’t even have to open an attachment! Unfortunately, whilst the help says this is possible, it’s not (yet).
  • Importing recipients from somewhere other than an Excel file. We have made extensive use of the ability to import from a QlikView object. There are workarounds to this but we’d love to see this re-introduced in NP17 for QV and QS.
  • Simplifying the process for adding reports to the Qlik Sense Hub and integration with the Qlik Sense QMC for user management and so on.

The conclusion

NPrinting has a special place in my heart and I have definitely skimmed over some of its amazing features that I’ve taken for granted over the last four years. So my advice is this:

  • If you’re a current NPrinting 16 user and you only have QlikView in your estate, then you might be better off sticking with NPrinting 16 for the time being. The main reason I can see to consider upgrading here would be if you need a multi-node environment to cope with the sheer volume of reports you distribute or to make use of the NewsStand feature.
  • If you’ve got a mixture of QlikView and Qlik Sense then I think that NP17 is worth a shot now it’s stabilised. Definitely check the features you need and trial it before making a decision on which version to use.
  • In a purely Qlik Sense environment, you’ve not got a choice – I’d just say be cautious about what you promise to deliver in tight timeframes as there is a learning curve as well as more improvements to come down the line. Again, trial it in your environment to see if it works for you.

For more information on NPrinting, please visit our product page where you can request a demo to find out how it can enhance your Qlik experience. We also have an NPrinting training session coming up on 23rd February 2017 – call us on 0330 363 9900.

Alex Walker
Service Delivery Manager