Category Archives: Tools

Form Input and Commenting in Qlik

A common desire from Qlik customers over the years has been the ability to interactively edit data on a QV sheet and persist the changes in Qlik or maybe write back to another system. As Martin Mahler of VizLib describes it “turning a one-way data street into a two-way street”.

Sometimes the term “writeback” is used to describe the idea of inputting data in a Qlik app and persisting that data — writing back  the data — to some other system.  The new data is saved and shared with other users of the app. Importantly,  in a form/writeback application, the added data is associated with some row of the data model. For example, in a warranty claims app we may have a dropdown that allows the user to categorize each claim.  The assigned category is used in further analysis.

I think of “commenting” as making annotations on a chart, or chart data point, and a given set of selections.  Ideally, comments may turn into a discussion and use some sort of notification mechanism.

These are not pure terms. There are overlaps to be sure.

I’ve seen some interesting bespoke implementations by partners.  There is also a growing list of off the shelf products that enable writeback and or commentary within Qlik Sense or QlikView.

Some products are Qlik Sense only, some work with both QlikView and Qlik Sense.

Most products allow you to create table sheet objects that mix Qlik DImensions and Expressions with additional input fields such as freeform text, dropdowns or checkboxes.  They all persist the data to some type of backend store such as a database.

When evaluating a product for your requirements, here are some items to consider:

  • Do you have requirements for read-only and update users?
  • Are you looking to add additional data in a single chart or do you need to reference the new data from multiple charts?
  • Are you looking to add one to one new data or build complex workflow apps?
  • Does your business objective require structured form data,  free-form commentary or both?

There are an interesting range of products and capabilities out there.  Klikins and Emark Forms for example let you add new fields to a straight table.  One of the more interesting approaches is K4 Analytics, which embeds Excel into Qlik. This provides the full range of Excel formula and formatting functions. You can build some pretty powerful aps this way.

There are products that focus on finance reports. TrueChart creates a set of functional and beautiful IBCS compliant reports along with a nice navigation interface that can be reused throughout the Qlik app.

Both TrueChart and Climber Finance Report support the type of commenting and annotations user require in finance reporting.  I’m excited that the Climber commenting is being expanded and released as a generic commenting & collaboration product by VizLib. Qommentary is another global commenting solution.

Here in no particular order are some Writeback / Commenting products I’m aware of. The headings are links to the vendor site.

I’m sure I’ve missed some products.  Feel free to leave me a comment if you have something to share.  It would also be good to hear about use cases where you have found value in implementing an input/writeback solution.

Inform Write 

QlikView and Qlik Sense

K4 Analytics

QlikView and Qlik Sense

TrueChart

Qlik Sense

Emark Forms

Qlik Sense

Klikins

QlikView and Qlik Sense

Pomerol Writeback

Qlik Sense

Qommentary

Qlik Sense

VizLib 

Qlik Sense

 

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Qlik Sense Document Analyzer V1.5

Version 1.5 of the Qlik Sense Document Analyzer (QSDA) tool is now available for download here.

If you are not familiar with QSDA, it’s a free application profiling tool for Qlik Sense that can help you identify items such as unused fields, poorly performing expressions and data model problems.

Here are the significant changes in V1.5:

The Installer allows editing of all install paths and installation will create a log file in the User’s temp directory.

The  Summary ribbon at top of each sheet provides for sheet navigation by clicking a cell.

 

Improved error handling in the connector. Certain types of errors, such as a chart calculation timeout, will not terminate the script. Error count is reported on Summary sheet and detailed error messages can be viewed on the “Extract Log” sheet.

Items that should be considered incomplete due to analysis errors will highlighted in yellow.  This highlighting is a work-in-progress as I discover new possible errors.

Field widths (Symbol width) are no longer estimated! Field sizes are obtained directly from the engine.  Due to this change, this version will report different values for field sizes than previous releases, generally +/- 10%.

The connector edit dialog has been improved.  Error messages now appear properly in their own window and a progress bar displays when the list of applications is fetching.

If you have general usage questions on QSDA, please use the comments section here or Qlik Community.

If you have a bug to report, use the issue tracker.

The only installation supported by the installer is QS Desktop. You can use QS Desktop to analyze applications on a server.  It is possible to manually install on a server by uploading the application (qvf), the qsda-ribbon extension and the connector directory if you have the need and want to give it a shot.  I do plan to create a supported server installer in the future.

Have fun!

-Rob

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Qlik Sense Document Analyzer v1.4

Version 1.4 of the Qlik Sense Document Analyzer (QSDA) tool is now available for download here.

If you are not familiar with QSDA, it’s a free application profiling tool for Qlik Sense that can help you identify items such as unused fields, poorly performing expressions and data model problems.

I’m pleased that Mike Steedle of Axis Group has joined me as co-developer of QSDA.   Mike contributes his many years of experience in profiling and tuning Qlik applications.

 

Here’s what’s new in version 1.4:

  1. Installer improvements. The correct directory for Connectors and Apps is automatically detected.
  2. New attribute “ObjectIsExtension”. Possible values are:
    • False – not an extension.
    • True – object is an extension but not a widget.
    • Widget – object is a widget.
    • Missing – object is an extension, but extension is not present on server.
  3. Unused Master Visualizations, and the Dimensions and Expressions therein, are now extracted and processed.
  4. DimensionLabel field added to “Dimensions” table.
  5. New table “Bookmarks”. Bookmarks are now extracted and linked to Fields.
  6. MB Constant changed from 1000*1000 to 1024*1024. This means these numbers now scaled in MB will have slightly smaller values than previous versions.
  7. Calc Time is now displayed in seconds instead of milliseconds.
  8. Dimensions and Expressions summary added to Objects sheet.
  9. Some analysis of the data model is performed, and the results and recommendations expressed as flag fields. New sheet “Flag Summary” will display an overview of found conditions.
  10. Color highlighting of detected problems.
  11. Reorganization of sheets and sheet layouts.
  12. Addition of a “Glossary” sheet provides descriptions for flags.

The installer currently only supports installation on Qlik Sense Desktop, although you can  analyze applications on Enterprise Server.

Improving the server analysis capabilities and possibly a server install will be a focus of the next update.

If you have general usage questions on QSDA, please use the comments section here or Qlik Community.

If you have a bug to report, use the issue tracker.

I hope you find QSDA useful.  I’m excited to see it maturting and pleased to have the help from Axis Group.

-Rob

 

 

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Theming the Qlik Sense Script Editor

Summary: In this post I show how to modify the style of the QS Script Editor window.

An astute reader — Johan Roelofsen — of my blog on bookmarklets noticed I had a bookmarklet named “QS Blackboard” and asked if this was used to change the window background color.  Excellent guess, spot on, but there’s more to it.

Changing only the background color can yield a poor result because the text begins to blend into the background.  I’ll want to change the text colors and possibly size as well to yield something like this:

Fortunately QS uses the CodeMirror (CM) editor which provides a theming capability.  Theming the CodeMirror window is done by loading a style sheet and then making an API call to use that style.

The instructions that follow will show how to implement your own custom theme in QS Desktop (I assume it will work in Enterprise as well, just haven’t tried it).

Note that we will not be modifying any of the installed Qlik software files!

  1. In the folder :
    C:\Users\userid\AppData\Local\Programs\Qlik\Sense\Client

    Create a new subfolder (below Client) named “cmtheme”.  This is the folder that will contain your CM style sheets.

  2. Download or build a theme-name.css file in the cmtheme directory.  You can try out various existing themes on this demo page here and download the corresponding css file from the CM repo here.

“Projector1” available here is a theme I’ve built for projecting. If you read the doc or look at the examples, you’ll see the pattern whereby you must define .cm-s-themename selectors in your CSS.

If you start with one of the CM themes, you’ll want to add selectors for QS script specific elements like function, table and field.

.cm-s-projector1   .cm-function {color: #c678dd;}
.cm-s-projector1   .cm-table {color: #d19a66;}
.cm-s-projector1   .cm-field {color: #d19a66;}

All that’s remaining is to  invoke your theme while in the editor.  I use this bookmarklet that first loads the css file and then calls SetOption on the CodeMirror editor instance:

javascript: (function () { 
 var theme = "Projector1";
 $('head').append('<link rel="stylesheet"  href="../resources/cmtheme/' + theme + '.css" type="text/css"/>');
 $('.CodeMirror')[0].CodeMirror.setOption("theme", theme);
 }());

It’s the same bookmarklet code for any theme, I just change the hard-coded theme variable.

To “unapply” your theme and return to QS native, just press F5 to refresh the browser.

Have fun.  And remember when you tinker with something like this the best approach is to not update the vendor (Qlik) software files and instead seek a non-intrusive approach.

-Rob

Hey Rob, I’m a Qlik Dev. This CSS + Javascript stuff looks like a foreign language to me.  How I can upskill to be able to leverage the Qlik Sense APIs including creating Mashups and Extensions?

Easy answer.  Take the  “Web Dev for Qlik Devs” course from Websy.  You can self-study online through the Websy Academy,  take an on-line instructor led course or have one of the Websy team — including Rob — deliver a course at your site to your entire team. 

 

 

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Running QS Regression Test in Batch

If you’ve ever seen my presentations on automated testing of Qlik apps, you know I’m a big fan of the free Qlik Scalability Tools  — both QV and QS.

I use the Regression Test feature to automatically validate Qlik app changes before promoting to production.   Regression testing allows us to validate that charts continue to produce correct results after updates are made to the application or platform software.

This graphic provides a brief overview of the regression testing concept.

The Qlik Sense Scalability Tool (QSST) provides a GUI workbench to run and analyze regression tests.  The workbench is a great tool for a developer or QA Analyst to validate an app on an adhoc basis.

What if I want to run the analysis unattended on a schedule?  For example, after every reload to validate that my app is still working correctly and my expected data was loaded.

In this post I’ll demonstrate using a system monitor to run the regression test as an ongoing validation and send an alert if the validation fails.

I won’t go into the details of setting up the Scalability Tool.  You can get that from the product documentation.  If you would like me to do a presentation on automated testing for your team contact me here.

We will need a system monitor that is capable of running commands on a schedule, monitoring the command output and sending alerts or status via something like email or Slack.  You may already have a capable system monitor installed at your site.

NodeGraph is my current favorite Qlik-centric testing tool for ongoing quality monitoring (I’m a partner).  NodeGraph’s Test module allows for testing expression values,  presence of fields and update times.  At the moment NodeGraph does not support running QSST Regression tests, but I expect it will be part of the product by 2018Q4.

For the time being, I’ll demonstrate batch regression testing using Woodstone’s Servers Alive, a low cost but powerful system monitor I’ve used in the past.  You can try Servers Alive for free.

Let’s assume we have used the QSST workbench to author the regression test scenario and have executed the scenario to create a  baseline log.  When using the workbench, we would re-execute the scenario at a later time to create a compare log and then analyze the differences between the logs using the workbench Analysis tool.

QSST provides command line versions of both the scenario executor (“SDKExerciserConsole.exe”) and the regression log analysis (“RegressionAnalyzerConsole.exe”) .  We will need to bit of script to stitch these two operations together and process the output.

I’ve posted a powershell script here that wraps all the necessary operations and exits with an ERRORLEVEL of “1” if validation fails (differences found between compare and baseline logs), or “0” if no differences are found.

  1. Download the RunRegressionTest.ps1 script and place it in a directory named “Regression”.
  2. Create a subdirectory under Regression named “baseline”.
  3. Copy your baseline log file for each app of interest to the baseline directory.   Do not rename the file.
  4. Following the comments in the file, update the first three variables in  RunRegressionTest.ps1 to identify the location of your QSST install and your scenario json file(s).

We can check that the script runs correctly from a powershell command prompt in the “Regression” directory.

.\RunRegressionTest.ps1 "ABC Sales Demo"

where “ABC Sales Demo” is the name of a json file in our scenario directory.  If all goes well, we should see output messages like:

PS C:\QlikSense-Projects\Regression> .\RunRegressionTest.ps1 "ABC Sales Demo"
 Comparing C:\QlikSense-Projects\Regression\temp\results\ABC Sales Demo_localhost_[1-0-1--1]_18072311263304_regression.log
 to baseline: C:\QlikSense-Projects\Regression\baseline\ABC Sales Demo_localhost_[1-0-1--1]_18072216105188_regression.log
 Differences found

Now to implement this in Servers Alive.  In Servers Alive we define things to test as “checks”.  In this case I’ll use the External(errorlevel) check type and provide the command string to run my powershell script.

The full command string is: (no line wrap)

powershell -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy bypass -File "C:\QlikSense-Projects\Regression\RunRegressionTest.ps1"  "ABC Sales Demo"  "p2"

where “ABC Sales Demo” is the name of my scenario json file.  “p2” is a dummy parameter that works around a windows bug.  Without that extra parm, a blank space is added to the previous parm causing a failure.

On  the Alert tab I’ll specify to send a message to Slack on failure. On the schedule tab I’ll specify when to run this check.

All set up!  When run either manually or on schedule, a failed check — that is, the regression test found unexpected differences — the check will display red on the SA console and I’ll  also receive a Slack message.

 

 

 

 

I’ve just introduced a number of moving parts.  If this is all new to you what I hope you’ll take away is that formal, structured and automated monitoring of your Qlik Applications is possible with relatively low cost and effort.

Want some assistance with planning your testing strategy and implementation?  I offer consulting in planning and implementation of automated testing and monitoring for your Qlik environment. Contact me if you want to chat about your needs and how I can help.

I also typically do an optional lunchtime session on testing at the Masters Summit for Qlik.  Come along to Philadelphia or Johannesburg to talk testing and many many more Qlik topics.

-Rob

 

 

 

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QS Document Analyzer 1.3 Supports Server Apps

I just released the V1.3 update to Qlik Sense Document Analyzer.  Two significant features in this release:

  • The ability to analyze applications on the Enterprise Server.  You still install and execute QS Document analyzer on the Desktop,  but you don’t need to move the application to the Desktop.
  • The option to specify a Bookmark that should be applied before calculating objects.  This is particularly useful when an object has a calculation condition.

Another interesting update is that we are now validating all expressions and will flag any expression that has a syntax error.

You can download the latest version from the tools section of this site.

Thanks to Axis Group for their input on this release.  I’m looking forward to an ongoing collaboration.

You can report any issues with QS Document Analyzer in the issue tracker here.

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Exploring Data Lineage with NodeGraph

In the Qlik world, we are frequently faced with questions like:

  • Where did this field come from?
  • What applications (if any) use this QVD?
  • If I change this database table, what applications will be affected?
  • Am I creating QVDs that are not being consumed?

I’ve maintained a QlikView lineage application for my customers over the years.  I was never completely happy with it as Qlik lineage metadata is inconsistent and the critically important field level lineage was never available.

All that changed when I discovered NodeGraph.  Now I’m a NodeGraph fan and partner.

NodeGraph is an add-on for your QlikView and Qlik Sense solutions that allows you to explore, visualize and trace where your data comes from, whether it’s up-to-date, how it’s calculated, and much more.

NodeGraph scans both QlikView and Qlik Sense files and produces a graph of applications and data in a beautiful easy to navigate interface.  Select any node, for example a dashboard QVW, and lines trace the data lineage through transformed QVDs all the way back to the source database.

 

You can search, filter and drill in any direction;  from applications,  QVDs, source tables, fields, charts or SQL queries.

Where did this field come from?  Right-Click any field and select the Field Explorer to get a report of the complete lineage for this field, including all script transformations!

 

I’m looking at a chart that shows a count of Customers.  How was that count calculated? Where did the data come from?  In the Content view I can review the expression and see the lineage for fields used.

 

One of my favorite features is the one-click application documentation.  The tool generates a pretty printable/PDF document suitable for Auditors that describes all data sources, transformations, and expressions used in the selected application.

 

There are more uses and features in NodeGraph than I can cover in a blog post, including governance reports, application usage, GDPR compliance and testing.

If you are coming to Qonnections,  see NodeGraph in action at the TechLab10 booth (#603) in the Discovery Expo.

Learn more about NodeGraph at nodegraph.se. If you have questions or would like to schedule a free demo,  reach out to the NodeGraph team on the website or info@nodegraph.se.  If you are in North America you can contact me directly for questions or to scheduling a demo.

-Rob

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QViewer Acquisition

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve acquired the excellent QViewer tool from Dmitry Gudkov effective January 1.  I’ll be marketing, developing and supporting QViewer going forward.

QViewer has a stellar reputation as a must have tool for Qlik Developers.  I’m pleased to be taking over such a fine product.

This acquisition is one step in my plan to focus more on software development during 2018.  Stay tuned for other announcements during the year.

Existing licensed QViewer customers should email future support requests to support@panalyticsinc.com.

Happy New Year!

-Rob

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DevTool Extension for Qlik Sense

One of the benefits of attending the Masters Summit for Qlik is networking and the things you can learn from discussions with peers.

At the Boston Summit, I was fortunate to meet Erik Wetterberg, formerly of Qlik R&D and known to me as the author of the qsVariable and DevTool extensions.  I’ve been a fan of the DevTool extension for some time and had a nice chat with Erik about potential enhancements to DevTool.   Since the summit Erik has made some updates and accepted new function I’ve added to the tool.

DevTool provides some functions that are useful during Qlik Sense app development and debugging.  Download the DevTool zip from the dist folder here https://github.com/erikwett/DevTool and install as you would any other extension.

Add  the extension to any sheet and it will create an Action Button (AB) to the lower right corner of the sheet.

You don’t have to leave the extension in the app, the AB will remain until you close the app.  I usually don’t leave it in the app, I just add it and then remove by double clicking DevTool in the assets panel and follow that with a Ctrl-z undo.

You can leave it in the app if you wish.  There are some considerations discussed below for leaving it in a published app.

Clicking the AB will toggle a tooltip above each sheet object that initially displays the objectid.  The objectid is useful when building mashups or reviewing diagnostic data.   As selections are made and the objects are recalculated, the tooltip will add a line showing the time in milliseconds for the current calculation as well as the max calculation time for this object.

 

Click the “properties” button on the tooltip and this object’s json formatted properties will display in a popup.  Use the copy-to-clipboard button to copy all or selected property lines to the clipboard.

Right-Click the AB to open a context menu that provides for:

  • Exporting script to a text file.
  • Importing (replacing) script from a text file.
  • Exporting variables in script or json format.

The extension works equally well in desktop or server.  Some things to think about before including it in a published app.

  • Users normally can’t see the load script and variables in a published app, but they can with this extension.
  • Although the script import works without error in a published app, the change to script is not saved so effectively nothing has been updated.

For myself, I’ve been thinking of this as a tool to use during development only and have not been including it in published apps.  I’d be curious to hear if someone has made a different decision.

The extension buttons use a google font. I note that many servers are blocked from the internet. If this is your case, you will see red dots for the buttons instead of proper symbols.  The buttons are still fully functional.

Maybe I’ll see you at the Masters Summit in Prague  where you might find your own interesting collaboration.

-Rob

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Mass Editing of QVW Script

Summary: In this post I describe a process using freely available tools to apply changes to all scripts in a set of QVW files.

So you have a lot of QVWs. And now you are asked to identify and make updates to all scripts to support changes such as:

  • A change in QVD or other file naming.
  • Changes in file paths due to a server move or directory restructuring.
  • Updating file paths to use variables.

If you are super cool, all those items are represented by variables, changes are handled by updating a single include file and you can relax and stop  reading this post. For the rest of us, read on.

You can scan and search all your script using my Script Repository tool.  That will allow to identify where changes are required, but do you have time to edit every QVW and make the changes?  Easy enough for a few, but what about when you have dozens?

QlikView Desktop has a useful facility we can leverage for mass changes; the “-prj” folder.  If a folder named qvwname-prj  (case sensitive) exists in the same folder as the QVW, when the QVW is saved, QV Desktop will write a set of text files representing the structure of the QVW to the -prj folder.  One of those files is “LoadScript.txt” which contains the load script.

When QV Desktop opens a file, it checks for the existence of a companion -prj.  If found, it populates the QVW with the contents of the files in the -prj.  If we change one of those files, for example “LoadScript.txt”,  that change will be inherited by the QVW.

Let’s walk thorough a scenario where we can utilize this feature to update the scripts of an entire set of QVWs.  I’ll utilize free tools that will make the process easier.

My sample problem is this: I have inconsistent QVD naming conventions. We’ve decided that “DimCustomer.qvd” shall henceforth be known simply as “Customer.qvd”. I’ll need to update the script that generates the QVD as well as all readers of the QVD.

I will accomplish this update in four steps:

  1. Create -prj folders for all QVWs.
  2. In the “LoadScript.txt” files replace “DimCustomer.qvd” with “Customer.qvd”.
  3. Rebuild the QVWs with the updated -prj.
  4. (Optional) Delete the -prj files.

The sample I’ll use for this post is relatively small to keep the demo simple.  But I’ve used this technique to process hundreds of QVWs at a time incorporating several different script edits.

I have a directory of QVWs that looks like this:

 

 

In the SubFolder “Loaders”, there are additional QVWs.

 

 

I’ll need a -prj folder for each QVW. I  can create the -prj manually, but this is where I can leverage the PrjTool to make life easier.  You can download the PrjTool from the Tools section of this site.  (Note: If you received a copy of PrjTool from the Masters Summit, please download this newer version as it contains important updates.)

PrjTool requires a Directory as input and the selection of one of  three functions:

  • BuildPrj: For all QVW files found in the specified Directory, create a -prj folder.  This includes opening and saving the QVW to populate the -prj.
  • CreateFromPrj: For all -prj folders found in the specified Directory, open and save the QVW to update the QVW with contents of the -prj.  If no QVW exists, a new one will be created.
  • DeletePrj: Delete all -prj folders found in the  specified Directory.

I’ll start by specifying the Directory that holds our QVWs and selecting the BuildPrj function.  Press the Execute button and the script will launch. The execution may take some time as each QVW has to be opened and saved. Good time to go for a coffee.

When the execution completes the log window will be filled with messages listing the -prj folders created by the tool.

 

If we examine the directory again we will see the new -prj folders.

 

Our next task is to edit the LoadScript.txt files. We can use any editor capable of searching and replacing across multiple files.  For this demo I will use the free NotePad++ editor.   From the NotePad++ menu, launch “Search” , “Find in File”.  In the search dialog I specify the Directory  and  the search and replace strings. I’ll also limit the search to the LoadScript.txt files.

 

After pressing “Find All”,  I’ll get a list of search results.  I can double click any of the results to open the file for further examination.

 

When I’m satisfied that I’m going to make the correct updates, I again launch “Find in Files” and press “Replace in Files”  to perform the update.

Now I’ll use the PrjTool again to update the QVWs with the updated -prj files.  I run the tool again, this time selecting the “CreateFromPrj” function.  Again, if you have a lot of large QVWs, be patient while the tool runs.  The resulting log messages will inform me of the updates.

We’re done!  All QVWs now contain the updated load script.  Optionally we can run the tool again with the “DeletePrj” function to delete the generated -prj folders.

You should always perform this kind of mass update activity on copies of QVWs and audit the results.  Also, never use -prj folders in production.  Server reloads do not recognize -prj folders.

-Rob

 

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