Qlik Design Blog

5 Posts authored by: Shima Auzins

We sometimes suffer from trying to show as much information as possible in QlikView.  In order for us to categorize the information so the users can consume it more easily and smoothly, the first option you may consider is using tabs. 

Tabs are a great way to categorize the information for users; however, if you abuse the tab system in QlikView, users may get confused or miss some important information that is available for them.  This is why.

•          When there are too many tabs, then QlikView wraps the tabs and creates multiple rows of tabs in QlikView Desktop.

Tab1s.png

•          The point above is a different usability in AJAX client when many tabs exist.  QlikView creates buttons to navigate the rest of the tabs that are hidden, just like MS Excel. As you can imagine, this can be a risk of users missing some information.

tab2s.png

Have you seen an application like this?  Well, I have.  Yes, in a real life use case.

tab3s.png

 

In this extreme case, rows of tabs can be as many as the example above.  This is an example with 1024x768 screen resolution.  As you can see, we are losing the real estate for information display for the tabs.  It is about 1/3 of the entire real state for tabs.

 

In order to avoid this tab nightmare, you have a few options to overcome this situation.  First, think about the hierarchy of your information categories.  Then, consider using 1) a container object, 2) sub-tabular system, 3) a multi-box or 4) combination of these options. 

 

This is one example of using the Option2: sub tabular-system.

tab4s.png

If you are curious to know more about this topic, you can see the tech brief here.  More example snapshots and how each option works are documented in detail.

I hope you have a better understanding on how to deal with many tabs in QlikView.

I have received a few emails from QlikView developers asking what the best practice is for placing list boxes.  There are two arguments that you may think of right away.

In information design, left-side, top-left to be precise, is always used for the most important information.  It is because as a human-nature that’s the space people pay attention to first.  So why should I waste the space for placing the navigation pane there?  I should place it on the right.

Another argument is that people are used to use left navigation because most of the web sites have menus on the left.  Think about a shopping web site.  All departments, categories, genders, sizes… whatever you think of usually on the left hand side.  So why should I go against human’s habit and place it on the right-side?  People will get confused. 

I can buy both arguments.  But then how about placing it at the top?  I have seen QlikView applications that have navigation pane at the top.  Is this the best of all?  Let’s think about this in QlikView usability, with an elimination method. 

Right-pane
We create a demo application for 1024px width so that it will fit nicely with any devices you may have including a projector.  But some users may have a wider screen or higher resolution screen.  If for some reason if I want to expand the line chart at the bottom to see more in detail or utilizing the space of my screen, I will need to overlap the navigation section with my chart by extending the width.  Then, when I want to make a selection in Expense Category, I need to either move the chart or resize it to do so.   If the navigation pane was on the left hand side, you could resize the width with no problem, and you still could make selections in Expense Category list box.  So the right-pane is out.

Right.png

Top-pane
I have seen applications with list boxes at the top.  This may be a good idea because then the ‘body’ part can be used only for information display.  Is this the best of the all world?    Let’s think about it for a second.  We all know that you will get a request of adding more list boxes on the screen.   Eventually you will run out of the room towards the right, and you will consider adding a second row of list boxes.  Then will you shift everything down?  You are losing the important real-estate to display information by the navigation pane.   So that doesn’t work well.

top.png

That being said, I personally think that having the left-side pane works the best in QlikView applications, and here are the benefits.

Left-pane

  1. People are already used to look at the left side to navigate a web site.  So why not also for QlikView? Also remember that QlikView is also a web page.
  2. QlikView tabs as well as clear button navigation bar are at the top starting from the left.  So it is the best to keep the navigation elements on the left hand side so that when a user looks at the top left corner, all navigation related items can be seen easily.  It’s all about where your eyes start on the screen.
  3. If a user wants to expand the width of an object on a wide screen, there is no disturbance with other objects.
  4. The area to display the information is consistent.  Even if I add more list boxes, I do so within the left pane.  So there is no need to shift the information display area.
Left.png

Lastly, you may wonder why I have the timeline list box at the top.  This is my 11-year QlikView habit.  I believe it is the best to keep the timeline list boxes separated from other selection categories. 


If you cannot give up the top-pane option or wish to have many list boxes on user’s figure tip, then you can use a trick.  Here is an example.  When you click on the ‘filter’ button, then there is a drop panel with list boxes.  I recommend you using this in dashboard where you need lots of real-estate for important information.  Or also you can use this together with the left-pane navigation.  In this case, create list boxes for the most frequently used fields on the left for easy navigation (accessibility), and you can create the hidden panel for additional list boxes. 

 

Now it is up to you what method you will use in your QlikView application.  Will you go with a top, left, right or hidden pane?
You can also download the technical paper on this topic here.

Shima Auzins

Why Comparative Analysis

Posted by Shima Auzins Feb 27, 2013

Comparative Analysis is a way to analyze data based on multiple groups.   It is not a comparison between two items such as Company A vs Company B.  It is all about you, the user, creating customized groups on demand. 

 

For example, you might have seen a graph like this, which is a standard way to compare between companies.

Example 1s.png

Note: The sketch was created for a demo purpose only.

 

Comparative analysis lets you group these three companies as portfolio A and compare to another portfolio group B, which may have one company swapped.  And then, you may compare which grouping is a better choice for you.

Example 2s.png

Note: The sketch is created for a demo purpose only.

 

In this example, I have used the same type of values as two groups; however, you can mix different level of data or different types of data.  For example, you may choose one company against an entire industry for business growth comparison, or comparing one country, such as Japan, to a state in the US, California, for population increases.  The most common usage of comparative analysis is for basket analysis.

If you would like to try this functionality, go to Financial Stocks Analysis demo > Comparative Analysis tab.  Make selections as you’d like and you will see the top chart being populated for your groups.

Example 3s2.png

Here is technical brief on how to enable comparative analysis.  You can download the Financial Stocks Analysis demo or Whats New in QlikView11 demo to see how this functionality is implemented.

 

Here is the video of Comparative Analysis recorded by Michael Anthony.


 

Shima Auzins


Do you use the generic search engine on your OS to find the document you are looking for?  Have you had any luck finding it within one minute?  Well, I haven’t.  So I decided to go back to the old fashion way.  QlikView way.  The associative way. 

 

Here is my background.  I use Windows, so I search for something like “How QlikTech uses QlikView” in “Search programs and files” box above the “start” button.

Search programs.png

This is where the disaster begins.  It found 1,270 items.  I know I didn’t make that many documents with that name.  What it’s finding is all the files that contain at least one of the key words in the file name, including as an attachment to emails.  It also searches for the content of the document.  It’s overwhelming to find what I am looking for from this long list, but Windows doesn’t give me an option to filter by a document type or by a folder these ppt may belong to. 

 

I just needed a way to simply find my files in my folder by the name and not the content .  So I created this application called Find My Files.qvw.  If you’d like to try it, download  the app and specify the root directory in the box and hit “Reload” button in QlikView.  If you start with the highest hierarchy directory, it may take longer than expected depending on the number of files you have.  For example, I have 106GB used in my C: drive, and I care about only what’s in my user folder.  So I loaded all the files in that folder, which is 37GB in total.  It took only 1 minute to read in all the files.  If you don’t want to read all the files, you can specify the extensions in the loop such as qvw, xls, xlsx, doc, docx, ppt, pptx etc.  The reload time will be faster, especially if you are reading the entire hard disk.

The script of this app is pretty simple, and it is one of the help sample codes.  Many people may be already familiar with it. 

 

Using this app, I know there are 18 files in my machine for “Making a good design great” ppt and not 1270.

 

search.png

 

Yes, there are various desktop search software available out there, but why is this app any better?  This app also helps you organize your hard drive.  For example, when you are running out of disk space and need to know which folder is consuming the most disk space, you may want to know which folder I can consider eliminating.  Windows Explorer doesn’t give you the folder size, so you need to right click and see the properties to see how large the folder is.  If the folder is 10GB, you sit and wait for the properties box to appear.  Bummer.  Use this application, and you will be more efficient with your work life.

 

block chart.png

 

Download this application and the technical brief from here.

 

Ho Ho Ho… Happy Holidays to you (belated)!

Shimanta (Shima-Santa)

If I say the word “Dashboard”, most readers probably think of a software tool that gives an overview of enterprise health, rather than of a control panel in front of the driver in a vehicle.  One is in a computer, and the other is in a car, but they should play the same role; it should alert you when something is wrong.  So where do we start when creating a dashboard for business users?

 

I follow a D-A-R concept:  dashboard-analysis-report.  The first QlikView tab, the dashboard, tells users what is good or bad. It’s the “what” sheet.  The next batch of tabs is for analysis and has graphs and tables which tell users “how” or “why” things are good or bad.  The last part, the report sheet, has more detailed information such as invoice details, order details, employees’ shifts and so on where users can identify the exact action item to act on.  So when creating a dashboard, it’s important to highlight the “what” in it.

 

The first step is to identify the key metrics.  The fewer the better.  Don’t place 50 KPI’s to try to characterize the entire company in a dashboard, but rather the major ones that matter the most.  Pick metrics that change every day if the dashboard is to be utilized daily.

Secondly, make sure all KPI’s have a comparison.  Human beings are trained to compare everything 24/7.  If your sales figure is 3 million dollars, then so what?  Is it better than yesterday’s number?  You need to place a comparison number to indicate whether it is better or worse.

Next, don’t use the color green when something is good.  If you have 4 KPI’s (key performance indicators) and two of them are green and the other two are red, then people take it as 50% good, not 50% bad.  You want users to focus on the ‘bad’ part so they can act on it.  Only color-code what is bad, that is, red.

Compare with a dashboard in a car.  It does not alert you when something is doing well, but it is designed to alert you on the bad things.  Think about the fuel light. It’s not lit in green when your car has enough fuel. Instead it alerts you when fuel is critically low.  Then it comes on in red and you notice it right away.  It grabs your attention and personally I even get nervous when I see it. 

Think about a usage of gauges. A big number with a small red color indicator will do a better job to alert users than a round gauge with both green and red in it.

Gauges.png

Bottom line: When designing a dashboard, make sure to keep it as simple as possible. When a user looks at it for 10 seconds and looks away, she or he should remember what was bad.  Otherwise, it is not playing its fundamental role and is just pretty to look at.

 

executive dashboard2.png

Executive Dashboard on demo.qlik.com.

 

Here is a technical brief on this topic.

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