Focus not Filter

I always enjoy Barry Harmsen’s popular-culture-and-Qlikview posts like last week’s “What QlikView developers can learn from The Karate Kid“.

If I got you back from reading Barry, here’s my bit of Mr Miyagi wisdom: “Focus not Filter”.

Green/white/gray in a listbox provides focus on the selected data while still keeping all data visible. The same concept can sometimes be useful in charts. Emphasizing selected data while keeping all data visible  maintains context and provides for consistent comparison.

Here are a few examples of techniques I use with QlikView charts to “Focus not Filter”.

All data and selected data can be shown side by side on a chart with the currently selected data emphasized.


Maintaining  constant scale as users make selections can be a good way to maintain context.  The image on the left is in the clear state, the image on the right  has 13 of 51 values selected. The y-axis scale remains constant which makes it clear to the user that they are now working with a relatively small number of schools.



“Graying out” unselected data is another favorite technique.


A variation on “graying out” is  maintain  color but mute unselected data and highlight selected data. In this line chart, unselected data is partially transparent and  lines for selected data are shown at 1.5 times standard width.


If you are trying to find the Karate Kid scene where Mr Miyagi says “Focus not Filter”, stop looking. It’s not in there, I made it up. But I’m sure Mr Miyagi would have said it if he used QlikView.



8 thoughts on “Focus not Filter”

  1. I really like these techniques Rob. I would encourage everyone to use them. I also host a few apps with examples of these.

    This is what information design is all about. Keep em coming!

  2. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the post.

    If you don’t mind, is it possible to post this article for people who are using and learning Qlikview in personal edition?


    1. Hi Satish,
      I’ve updated the example to be PE enabled. Please download it and try again.

  3. Excellent idea Rob! Thanks for sharing.
    And a shout out to Satish as well for looking out for PE users.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.