The Associative Experience is about the dynamic experience the user has with the BI application. It's about answering that next unanticipated question. It's about exploring data freely without any predefined paths.  It's about quickly finding new discoveries. It is also one of the many facets that makes QlikView unique. Yes, the Associative Experience could be imitated by other software and if so, I'm sure the work involved is not as inherit as it is in QlikView. With QlikView it is automatic. At previous companies I tried to imitate it and it took a lot of work and I still could not get it right. Oh and BTW, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so thank you, I digress, let's continue.

 

golden.pngI close my eyes, my brain is an enormous database and without any visual stimulation to help me, I ask myself the question: What is my favorite apple?  Golden Delicious pops into my head. Now, even though I know the answer immediately, my mind has collected enough data over the course of my lifetime to process and come to this conclusion. My decision is based on a combination of senses such as sight, smell, taste and texture. Over time, I have satisfied each one of these senses by querying the various combinations of flavors, textures, varieties and colors until I found my favorite. In BI terms, these criteria can be seen as Dimensions – the textual and descriptive component used to find my favorite apple.

 

The mind is processing various bits of data naturally from its years of information gathering and its surrounding context. It is inclined to ask more and more questions until the user is satisfied that enough information is received in order to make the correct or desired decision.  Note that these questions are not predefined or prescribed however; they are freely formulated based on previous results.

 

This process is the basis of QlikView’s Associative Experience and part of what we refer to as Natural Analytics.

 

The Power of Green, White and Gray

 

I open my eyes…I now imagine I am able to visualize and interact with this data and its surrounding context in a single location, a QlikView application. I visualize the dimensions I associated with the apple: its varieties, colors, flavors and textures. Possibly, another category is available for comparison such as vegetables. Measures, the numerical component of the data, are introduced and automatically calculated and aggregated on the fly very quickly - displaying how many are grown or consumed in each region. I can further analyze this information using a variety of filters that show all related selections while still retaining the ones that are unrelated. At first it appears to be akin to a traditional BI dashboard, but with traditional BI a linear approach to analyze data is commonly used. For example, with traditional BI, once values are selected or filtered, the surrounding data and other context that either may be related or unrelated is lost; removing any possibility of making new discoveries, not the case with QlikView.

 

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So, with QlikView how do I visualize and maintain the aforementioned associations similar to those that were previously formulated within my mind? The answer is QlikView’s power of green, white and gray. By starting anywhere in the application and simply selecting one or more list box values, all other visualizations, selections and aggregations dynamically update based off of that selection without losing surrounding context of the unselected data. Selected data is highlighted in green, related or associated data is highlighted in white and unrelated data is highlighted in gray. I can simply see all other surrounding dimensions and their related or unrelated values based off my initial selection. This allows me to ask that very important next question. Selecting yellow and crisp from the select boxes – not only shows me what fruits are yellow and crisp but also what vegetables are yellow and crisp too – the selections in white. I have made a new discovery.  I have found vegetables that might appeal to my texture and color preference. The power of green white and gray helps guide me to my respective decision as well as prompts me to ask the next question that possibly I did not anticipate – such as which yellow and crisp vegetables might also appeal to my taste.

 

QlikView delivers the world’s first associative experience. It manages associations among data sets at the engine level, not the application level and stores individual tables in its in-memory associative engine. Every data point in every field is associated with every other data point anywhere in the entire schema allowing users to quickly and easily explore data freely and answer that very important next question.

 

So there you have my perspective on the associative experience. Tell me what you think.

 

Regards,

 

Michael Tarallo
Senior Product Marketing Manager

Qlik

@mtarallo


Managing a Business Intelligence (BI) deployment of any size is not trivial. Hardware, software, data and analytical applications, all require individual attention to ensure their stability and effectiveness. In order to ease maintenance, increase productivity and prevent an ‘out of control’ BI deployment, it is essential to implement standards and best practices as the groundwork for application governance.


The QlikView Deployment Framework (QDF) introduces a set of standards and best practices to QlikView. It’s a result of the combined experiences of our customers, partners and QlikView experts. Its main purpose is to address structure, organization and resource reusability within a QlikView environment, in turn reducing development time and increasing QlikView manageability.


So, what is a Framework anyway?

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In its simplest form, a Framework can be described as an ideal structure of something. Something that can also be designed to reduce the most common and repetitive tasks. Let's take a moment and think of your home. Before it can provide shelter, entertainment or even privacy, you need a basic structure or frame (ah, ha) that will support … well, everything else. Without a frame, your home would be unprotected from the weather, there’d be no place to plug in your PlayStation, and you could not shut out your mooching neighbor. The frame enables you to develop your home into something suitable and of value. If your home’s design is found effective and provides the most common components and amenities desired by the mainstream population – it may become a model for building the perfect home. Furthermore, prefabricating some of the home’s most common components will make it even quicker and easier to assemble (think of pre-assembled trusses), in turn saving time and money. In comparison, this simple analogy describes the basic concepts behind a software framework.


Ah, I see, so, then what is a Software Framework?


mix_apps.pngThe objective of a software framework is to make it faster and easier for developers to build and maintain applications. Frameworks typically ‘bundle’ together a collection of components in a simple to use form. Notable software frameworks include Ruby on Rails (Web), .NET Framework (Microsoft), Prototype (JavaScript), Spring (Java) and the various iOS Frameworks (Apple). For example, iOS developers may use the iOS Bluetooth Framework to accelerate the development of the Bluetooth portions of their project.

 

The QlikView Deployment Framework builds upon the same light-weight application development model that makes creating QlikView analytics easy. Assembled with a set of standards, modules and QlikView tools, QDF introduces consistency, reuse and increased control across all QlikView applications.

 

The following is a list of standards and practices defined by QDF:

 

Resource Container Architecture – A core file system structure composed of directory folders (referred to as ‘containers’) bound to the framework. It organizes, secures and stores projects and various objects used by QlikView applications and other QlikView deployments. By using QDF, all different document types and functions have their own respective place in their own folder structure and can be moved easily without effecting the operation of the QlikView application(s).

 

Container Map – An internal structure which maintains links between containers in order for objects (scripts, language settings, color schemes, variables, expressions, data connections, etc.) to be shared and reused by QlikView applications. The container map is managed with the Container Map Editor.

 

Container Naming Convention – A set of standard and recommended unique names used to name the file system folders according to application, department, project or resource. These can be modified as needed without affecting the functionality of the application.

 

Centralized Variables – A repository that stores system, user expressions, and other variables as user defined names. These names are referenced in QlikView projects as variables or can be called with the QDF sub-functions. Variables can be local to a project or global to the entire deployment. They are created and maintained with the Variable Editor.

 

Initiation Script – A pre-defined QlikView Load Script which initiates QDF, common modules and sets variables used within all QlikView applications that are bound to the framework.

 

Sub-Function Library – A set of modules used by QDF that contain callable sub-functions and practical examples. These can be easily included in QlikView applications. Examples include sub-functions for advanced calendars, document and data migration, data parsing, data exporting and linking resource containers and variables.

 

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Fig. 1 – Simple resource container logical diagram (left), physical file system structures (right)

 

What value will QDF bring?

 

There isn't always ‘one’ answer for best practices, but rather a collection of proven results from customers, partners and QlikView experts that provide enterprise scale, efficiency and governance for QlikView implementations. The QlikView Deployment Framework is the result of this collaboration. The value an organization realizes from the QlikView Deployment Framework will vary depending on the size, complexity and customizations of the deployment and its applications. Large and Enterprise QlikView deployments will greatly benefit from QDF due to ever-changing business requirements, data additions and organizational growth. It is recommended that smaller deployments investigate QDF but it may not be necessary to implement. Generally speaking, QDF will shorten development time for each new QlikView deployment, allow easier maintenance and reuse of resources and provide an overall application governance model.

 

How can I get started with QDF?

 

The QlikView Deployment Framework is available to members of the QlikCommunity under the QlikView Deployment Framework Group. Members may start a discussion, report a problem and receive the latest updates on the QDF software and documentation. After membership is granted, navigate to the Content tab to download the QDF Deploy Tool and review the QDF documentation to get started.


Join now: http://community.qlik.com/groups/qlikview-deployment-framework


Please review this Technical Brief (members only) for a deeper introduction on QDF


Regards,


Michael Tarallo

Senior Product Technical Manager

QlikView and QlikView Expressor

Follow me on Twitter @mtarallo

A Brief Conversation about Data Governance

 

officer.pngReader: “Woah, woah, hold on a second. Really Mike? - A post on Data Governance? - Don't you represent QlikView!? Shouldn't you be blogging about Business Discovery, Big Data or those sexy Data Visualizations!?”

Mike T: “Easy now, take a moment and breath. <sarcastic>You seem to really know your trendy labels, don't you?</sarcastic> Before we can discover our business, visualize our data or understand if our Big Data's signal-to-noise ratio is even relevant – something more needs to happen. Applications and data are typically prepared from gathered requirements before they are deployed to the masses. However, it is this preparation process that will determine the accuracy, consistency, assurance and overall longevity of the BI solution; aspects commonly overlooked when a proper Data Governance framework is NOT in place.”

Reader: “A proper Data Governance what?!”

Mike T: “Exactly!”

 

Ah-ha!

Now that I’ve gotten your attention I’d like to introduce you to my new series on – yes, Data Governance. Over a series of articles I will introduce you to the concept of Data Governance and the common symptoms and problems that arise from lack thereof. I’ll also include an example where an agency of the US Government could have saved millions annually if a Data Governance framework had been in place. With help from products such as the QlikView Governance Dashboard and QlikView Expressor, I’ll also cover solutions and best practices that can help increase data confidence and reduce risk in the key organizational information used to make decisions.

 

It’s a Problem

Over the course of my career I have seen many organizations quickly adopt a BI solution and jump right into creating reports and dashboards for one or a few specific needs, while giving little thought to the rest of the BI solution and how others may benefit from previous work. So what happens? Another application is then developed with its own requirements, possibly using data and attributes similar to the first. When developed in an independent and ad hoc manner (as with many organization) business models, data definitions and semantics can be stored and defined inconsistently. This causes inaccuracies which only delays decisions as users search for the truth in data. As Enterprises strive to consolidate data and express a need for data repurposing, it becomes critical to introduce Data Governance standards. It’s been established by many analysts that a high percentage of BI projects fail to meet their objectives; siting a variety of issues including failure to implement a centralized data repository, inconsistent data models, little to no metadata management and lack of authority to institute and uphold best practices.

 

Well?

Mike T: So Reader, will you join me in my next post where I will address these challenges and solutions in greater detail? Hopefully, you will see QlikView is much more than just visualizing and analyzing data. It’s about driving decision-making using the right data.

 

Mike Tarallo
Senior Product Marketing Manager
QlikView and QlikView Expressor
Follow me: @mtarallo

In my previous articles on the Business Discovery Blog, “Metadata Management the QlikView Way” and “Overcome Challenges with the QlikView Governance Dashboard,” I described metadata’s importance as well as two types of metadata that QlikView and QlikView Expressor handle.

 

I recently talked to a large QlikView customer in the manufacturing industry about its QlikView data governance practices and challenges. The company uses QlikView companywide to empower business users to ask and answer their own pic1_valid.pngstreams of questions. The company’s Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) has mandated that any new development must observe a set of policies.

For example, the BICC established a policy of using only approved and conformed column definitions across the QlikView estate. Column definitions can contain quantitative values (metrics) or textual values (dimensions). Each label must use pre-approved descriptive names that can be easily recognized by company decision makers.

 

To support this effort, the BICC created their own version of a metadata repository that stores specific metadata characteristics ranging from column names and data types to expressions and validation flags. As business teams develop new KPIs, a QlikView administrator enters values for metadata into a database, giving particular care to column names and validation fields. For example, if the policy requires that company income should be referred to as “revenue,” the admin enters “revenue” along with the validation flag of “Y” for yes. Other possible variations such as revenues, sales, income, earnings, etc. are also entered and flagged as “N” for no.

The Challenge: Reconciliation

The BICC encountered a challenge when they wanted to reconcile this data across all the labels already used in the existing QlikView applications. They had no means to analyze the entire QlikView environment and did not have time to build a custom solution. In addition, they needed to examine what QlikView documents, data files, columns, and expressions were or were not compliant in order to take the appropriate actions.

The Solution: QlikView Expressor and the QlikView Governance Dashboard

I suggested a QlikView Expressor solution that would leverage the data already created by the QlikView Governance Dashboard app. A byproduct of the QlikView Governance Dashboard scanner is the creation of data files specifically used by the QlikView Governance Dashboard app. These data files are available to be used in conjunction with this customer’s defined metadata to facilitate the solution they were looking for. The customer was very pleased with this approach as QlikView Expressor performed both the reconciliation of the incoming data and the data preparation to be used by QlikView. Stay tuned for part two of this article, where I will dive deeper into the technical details of the solution using QlikView and QlikView Expressor Desktop.

 

Michael Tarallo

Senior Product Marketing Manager
QlikTech

Uniquely QlikViewflat_qlikie.png

 

When a product is unique, it is distinctively characteristic - possessing traits and qualities that distinguish it from others.  Here in the United States, one such popular creation comes to mind - Dr. Pepper. Since the late 1800s, it is still marketing its original taste to be unlike any other soft drink. “It's a different kind of drink with a unique taste all its own.” - 1

QlikView is also unique in its own right. It provides a super fast and natural path for businesses to make decisions with its associative search capability; providing immediate insight in hours and days instead of weeks and months. Combine this with the contagious enthusiasm of the QlikTech staff and a lively QlikCommunity and you have what is uniquely known as "the QlikView way”.

That being said - it should be of no surprise to also hear that QlikView Expressor provides Metadata Management - “the QlikView way”.  In order to fully appreciate this idiom, we need to dissect the term “QlikView Metadata” into smaller digestible components.

 

Types of Metadata

In my first article, “Let’s Not Argue Semantics – I Beg to Differ”, I introduced the importance of semantic layers and its metadata. Metadata’s purpose is to increases the value of data by providing additional context. Within in a QlikView ecosystem there are two types of metadata that can described. The first one is QlikView deployment metadata. It contains data about the structural elements that make up a QlikView deployment. A QlikView environment holds tons of metadata locked away in QlikView documents such as QVDs, QVWs, QVXs as well as server and publisher logs. This valuable metadata, when extracted and associated with one another, can provide meaningful answers to IT professionals when asking the general question “What’s going on in our QlikView deployment?” The QlikView Governance Dashboard, a free application powered by QlikView, is designed specifically for that purpose; providing metadata management on top of QlikView. It allows IT to see how and where data is used, while enforcing data governance, best practices, efficiency and effectiveness of the QlikView estate. 

The second type of metadata that can be defined in a QlikView deployment - is defined on the actual data that is used to make decisions. This is your traditional organizational or source data available from data warehouses, database tables, structured and unstructured files, host applications and other sources. This sort of metadata is typically created to shield users from the complexities of the underlying data source – such as its origin, referential integrity, cryptic field names, complex calculations, business rules and data types.  When stored in a centralized metadata repository, it provides a reusable and consistent approach for development and analysis of business discovery applications -  in turn reducing development time and improving overall data confidence among business users. With the introduction of QlikView Expressor, QlikView applications can now leverage its metadata, therefore managing what I call “metadata-driven” QlikView applications.  The benefits of using QlikView Expressor to manage data for QlikView become more relevant in larger QlikView deployments where there is a need for rapid collaborative development while maintaining consistency, best practices and standardization across all applications.

Over the years QlikView deployments have seen unparalleled success within our customers’ environments. With the addition of the QlikView Governance Dashboard and QlikView Expressor products, data governance practices and metadata management “the QlikView way” can be applied while still maintaining the continued speed and flexibility that are essential to any QlikView deployment.

 

Regards,

 

Michael Tarallo
Senior Product Marketing Manager
QlikView Expressor

@mtarallo

 

1 - W.W. Clements,  former CEO and president of the Dr Pepper/7-Up Company.

clear_hurdles_5668.png

With rapid success come many challenges. This is true whether in a sporting, professional, or personal endeavor. The Olympic athlete who became  #1  is now the guy everyone wants to beat. A successful executive who has been given greater responsibility needs to learn new skills. How a person faces these challenges will determine whether one stays successful or not.

Over the years QlikView deployments have seen unparalleled success within our customers’ environments. Customers typically start small and Business Discovery proves its value quickly. The result is that our customers quickly adopt more and more QlikView to meet their demanding business analytics needs. With this rapid success can come some challenges, particularly for IT professionals who are tasked with administering a growing QlikView deployment.

Part of QlikTech’s response to these challenges comes in the form of the newly-launched QlikView Governance Dashboard. Released alongside QlikView Expressor 3.8, the QlikView Governance Dashboard is a free QlikView app available on QlikMarket (http://market.qlik.com/qlikview-governance-dashboard.html). The QlikView Governance Dashboard delivers a 360 degree view of any QlikView  environment starting with version 10 SR2. Simply stated, it enables QlikView and IT professionals to discover how QlikView is being used.

Created using QlikView and the recently acquired QlikView Expressor technology, the QlikView Governance Dashboard focuses on helping IT pros understand and manage the QlikView environment. The information learned can help them introduce a more manageable and repeatable process when developing QlikView applications. They can also answer data lineage and impact analysis questions, thereby maximizing data governance and optimizing their QlikView investment.

Some of the capabilities offered by the QlikView Governance Dashboard include:

  • Understanding the source and target data and how it is being used
  • Discovering which applications are the most complex
  • What columns, expressions and sheet objects are used
  • Data lineage
  • Impact analysis
  • QVD (QlikView data file) change analysis
  • QlikView Server and QlikView Publisher statistics

For anyone tasked with administering a QlikView deployment, whether it supports 10 users or 10,000, the QlikView Governance Dashboard can make your job easier and give you greater confidence in understanding all the moving parts associated with your deployment. Download the QlikView Governance Dashboard now from QlikMarket (http://market.qlik.com/).

And to enable metadata-driven QlikView applications, take a look at QlikView Expressor 3.8 Desktop, a free desktop tool used to provision data for QlikView applications in a much more reusable and consistent manner.

 

Regards,

 

Michael Tarallo
Senior Product Marketing Manager
QlikView Expressor

 

  • To learn more about the QlikView Governance Dashboard please visit: here
  • For a free copy of the newly released QlikView Expressor 3.8 Desktop please visit: here

 

 

 

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Figure 1: Gaining insight with QlikView Governance Dashboard

Standing on the platform waiting for the #7 to approach, I inadvertently began a conversation with a craggy gentleman about the controversial meaning of life.image1abc.png A gruff sigh got my attention as the man looked down at his wrist. The train was about 5 minutes late. “What am I doing here?” his lips muttered as he looked up from his watch. I thought for a moment. Does he mean here as in on the platform waiting for the train? Does he mean here in that very spot where he stood sandwiched between the column and the subway performer? Does he mean here in this city? It was difficult to infer the true meaning of his question, so feeling sociable and inquisitive I initiated a conversation. I glanced over with a smile and implied “Rough day?” In hindsight I wish I kept my mouth shut and simply moved over.

This situation prompted me to think about the importance of semantics. Semantics is the study of meaning and interpretation within linguistic expression. How many meanings could the word here have? In this situation at the train station, here required knowledge of additional context. The gentleman provided semantic clues during our conversation that helped me accurately discern between relevant and irrelevant content to understand his meaning.

The conversation moved from the platform to the train -- standing room only, of course. He ranted about politics, religion, healthcare, education -- any topic that perturbed him. They all seemed to meld together into one big ball of anger and discontent. The pace dragged on and my eyes started to glaze. I was lucky if I got a word in at all. There was a pause in the conversation. “Son, do you know why you are here?” he asked. Being a wise guy and looking for anyway to get out of this intolerable conversation, I cocked my head to one side and pointed to the floor beneath my feet and replied, “You mean here, or do you mean here on the train or do you mean here talking to you?” He said “Let’s not argue semantics, you know what I mean?”

"No sir, I’m afraid I don’t."

Semantics Are Critically Important for Business Discovery

So, what does this have to do with Business Discovery? Semantics are the key to turning a deluge of raw data into a relevant source of actionable information. When applied correctly, semantics cannot only define relevant meanings of data, but it can be used to apply a consistent and reusable approach to managing BI applications and its ever expanding sources of data.

When we discuss linguistic semantics we interpret the further meaning of words and phrases by using existing knowledge and our surroundings. Sights, sounds, and symbols can all have a semantic meaning. However, without semantic clues it is left up to an individual’s own interpretation and knowledge, which can be flawed.

The Semantic Layer

BI software providers use the descriptive form of the word “semantic” to describe components of their software. This comes in the form of what is usually known as a semantic layer or framework -- an architecture that describes and provides a consistent meaning of reusable business application attributes, objects, and data. “A layer of meaning,” as I like to call it. This layer tends to be strictly defined by BI administrators who should have familiarity with the business problems and strong collaboration with peers, rather than using loose interpretations.

Metadata

In BI, a semantic layer bridges the gap between the way  users work with data and how BI applications process it. This is achieved by the use of metadata. Metadata is an ambiguous term that can be defined in this content as data about data. (how ironic)  It is traditionally designed in a top-down fashion. Created in a prescribed manner, it provides a consistent foundation for reuse in development, analysis, and even data governance. Properly defined metadata can reduce information inaccuracies and misguided decisions by decreasing the number of disparately defined objects, metrics, and dimensions used throughout an organization. "Business users get data, IT gets governance." Join me in my next article, “Metadata the QlikView Way,” where I expand on these topics and discuss the value and benefits of defining metadata the QlikView way.

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