Qlik Community

Qlik Design Blog

All about product and Qlik solutions: scripting, data modeling, visual design, extensions, best practices, etc.

Employee
Employee

QlikView Quoteology

In all programming environments there is a need for quotation marks, and QlikView is no exception. But which symbol should you use? " ", [ ], ` ` or ' ' ? This post will try to explain the differences between the different quotation marks.


When creating the script or an expression in QlikView, you need to reference fields, explicit values and variables. To do this correctly, you sometimes need to write the string inside a pair of quotation marks. One common case is when a field name contains a symbol that prevents QlikView from parsing it correctly, like a space or a minus sign.

For example, if you have a field called “Unit Cost”, then
     Load Unit Cost
will cause a syntax error since QlikView expects an "as" or a comma after the word "Unit". If you instead write
     Load [Unit Cost]
QlikView will load the field “Unit Cost”. Finally, if you write
     Load 'Unit Cost'
QlikView will load the text string "Unit Cost" as field value. Hence, it is important that you choose the correct quotation mark.

So, what are the rules? Which quote should I use? Single? Double? Square brackets?

There are three basic rules:Image1.png

  1. Single quotes are used to quote literals, e.g. strings that should be used as field values.
  2. Double quotes are used to quote source field references, i.e. names of fields. (In formulae, or to the left of the “as” inside a Load statement.)
  3. Double quotes can always be substituted by square brackets or by grave accents.

With these three rules, most cases are covered. However, they don’t cover everything, so I'll continue:

  • In the script, but outside a Load statement, double quotes denote a variable reference and not a field reference. If double quotes are used, the enclosed string will be interpreted as a variable and the value of the variable will be used.

A general rule in QlikView is that field references inside a Load must refer to the fields in the input table – the source of the Load statement. They are source field references or in-context field references. Aliases and fields that are created in the Load cannot be referred since they do not exist in the source. There are however a couple of exceptions: the functions Peek() and Exists(). The first parameters of these functions refer to fields that either have already been created or are in the output of the Load. These are out-of-context field references.

  • Out-of-context field references and table references, e.g. the parameters in NoOfRows() and Peek(), should be regarded as literals and therefore need single quotes.
  • Finally, in many places you are free to use any of the four quotation methods, e.g.
    • Inside a Load statement, to the right of the “as”
    • In places where QlikView expects a file name, a URL or a table name
    • Defining the beginning and end of an inline table
    • For the first parameter of Peek() or Exists() when used inside a Load

I have deliberately chosen not to say anything about SELECT statements. The reason is that the rules depend on which database and which ODBC/OLEDB you have. But usually, rules 1-3 apply there also.

With this, I hope that the QlikView quoteology is a little clearer.

HIC

Further reading related to this topic:

Escape sequences

23 Comments
MVP
MVP

Hi Henric - thanks for this - another very useful post I can see myself pointing a number of people this way.

The one I find slightly counter-intutive is the GetCurrentField function.  As a function it feels like it should require single quotes (in the same was as NoOfRows and Peek) but actually square brackets are required when spaces are present.

The other thing I see people struggle with sometimes is putting a single quote into a variable, like this:

let vString = 'that's a problem';

I tend to fix this with a replace on an un-used character:

let vString = replace('that¬s fixed it', '¬', chr(39));

180 Views
Employee
Employee

You're right that putting an apostrophe into a string is sometimes cumbersome. Your solution is a good one and I can only recommend to use the replace function here.

In your specific case, there is however a simpler solution:

   Set vString = "that's not a problem";

  

In other words: you can use other quotation marks in a Set statement.

HIC

180 Views
Or
Valued Contributor II

Thanks, Henric - useful stuff, as always.

0 Likes
180 Views
MVP
MVP

Thank you very much for your great series, Henric, also for your comments, containing almost every single time some useful piece of information.

Any chance that some of the stuff you and your collegues post in the design blog will find its way into the offical docs (Ref manual and HELP)?

My personal feeling is that there was not much work on these docs the past 2 years, and it would be great not only for starters with QV but for all of us to find a more detailed, correct description of the QV functionality where I think I should find it first place (though I started to archive your series anyway).

180 Views
preminqlik
Valued Contributor II

Thanks for yur usefull informaton,good disscussion ,.as always

0 Likes
180 Views
Employee
Employee

Great blog post!

I can confirm that the official documentation (Reference manual and Help) will be updated and improved in the area of how to use quotation marks.

0 Likes
180 Views
Not applicable

HIC,

Can you help us know about quoteology being used inside Set Analysis and related scenarios. If already done, can you please share that with us.

Thanks,

Angad

0 Likes
180 Views
Employee
Employee

Today, in Set Analysis, it doesn't matter whether you use single or double quotes. They both interpret the content according to bullet two below. But it should matter. There is a bug here... And one day it will get fixed.

It should be this way:

  • Single quotes: Literal match with field value. Case sensitive.
  • Double quotes: A search. The string may start with < or > for numeric searches. May start with = for expression searches. May contain wildcards. Case insensitive. Double quotes can be exchanged with [ ].

In other words, 'A*' should be a case sensitive match with a field value that is two characters long and has an A as first letter and an asterisk as 2nd, whereas "A*" should be a case insensitive search for all strings beginning with 'A'.

So, you need to change any single quotes in your set analysis to double quotes, in order to make it future-proof.

HIC

180 Views
Not applicable

Thank you so much HIC for the knowledge sharing.

0 Likes
180 Views
thanstad
New Contributor III

If your inputfile (csv) contains " as a delimeter and a part of the text i.e

Order_Id    Text

9999999     "Flex_Pipe 32 " " (qoutationmark used as symbol for Inches)

Now QlikView or any other read whats between the last " and the next delimeter " as one record and it will mess up your data. It took a while until I found the solution for this and not surprisingly, QlikView have a good one. Change the finction in the inputfile spec from MSQ(Microsoft standard qouting) to NOQUOTES. Now your qliviewfile will be correct. This odd example is taken from an old transactionsystem but som companies still have them and sometime we need to solve this as well.

Tormod Hanstad

0 Likes
180 Views
MCampestrini
Valued Contributor

HIC, thanks for share this post.

0 Likes
180 Views
Not applicable

Henric, thanks for this, as it explains some things, but I have a different issue with quotation marks. When I import a "Note" field from our CRM system (Goldmine), the opening and closing quotation marks get changed to "&#8220;" and "&#8221;" similar problems exist with apostrophes, etc.

I tried to do a replace function in my LOAD statement (e.g. REPLACE(CANote,'&#8220;',chr(34)) AS "Notes"), and that worked, but obviously only for the one value. If I tried to chain Replace statements, e.g. REPLACE(CANote,'&#8220;',chr(34)) AS C1Note, REPLACE(C1Note,'&#8221;',chr(34)) AS C2Note, etc., I got an error message "Field not found C1Note" (which, frankly, I expected).

I put the statements into a macro, using correct VBS syntax, and they compile and execute (or so it seems) without error, but  there are no changes made, not even to the first value.

Finally, I tried nesting REPLACE statements in my LOAD statement, e.g.

REPLACE(REPLACE(CANote,'&#8220;',chr(34)),'&#8221;',chr(34)) AS Note, and that worked, but I have at

least two other values I want to apply a similar fix to. I'm worried that 1) the code looks clunky, 2) there will be a performance hit, and 3) it will be difficult to maintain.

Is there a better way to accomplish this task?

0 Likes
180 Views
apg
New Contributor

Henric, what are the rules for escaping special characters for these different quotation options, for example, what if the field name in Load statement contains square bracket, or double quotation mark o both?

0 Likes
180 Views
Employee
Employee

It should be possible to write the quoting symbol twice. This will be interpreted as an escape sequence for that character. For example:

    Set Variable = 'abc''def';

will assign the value    abc'def

Also,

    Load [Field[1]]] as Field_1

will load a field named    Field[1]

However, I am aware that there are some bugs here, so the string is not always correctly interpreted.

HIC

180 Views
Not applicable

Thx,

So, if I need a case sensitive modifier, I need to go like if and match ?

0 Likes
180 Views
Employee
Employee

Correct.

0 Likes
180 Views
Not applicable

Hi Hic! I've Read all your documents, all equally interesting, just one question, now with QV 11.2 SR12 and soon we'll get QV 12 and also including Qlik Sense, I'd think that some of the rules from this article are gonna change, right?

0 Likes
180 Views
Employee
Employee

No, the principles behind these rules will not change. The rules might be extended in the future though, for example: Allowing nested quotes, and allowing acute accent as quoting symbol.

Yes, some changes - bug fixes and removal of inconsistencies - will be introduced. (I am not sure the fixes will make it to the first coming versions though...)

HIC

0 Likes
180 Views
MVP
MVP

Hi Henric!

very useful, as usual. If I may add my $0.02, in the example that Steve Dark brought up, with the single quote within the string, - in a simple case like this you can even omit all the surrounding quotes, like this:

set test = That's not a problem either;

the text to the right of the equal sign will get assigned to the variable, even with the single quote in the middle.

Oleg Troyansky

180 Views
Employee
Employee

Oleg

Unfortunately that doesn't work - although I admit that it probably should... A single single-quote inside the string will make the parser lose track.

HIC

0 Likes
180 Views
MVP
MVP

Henric,

I tested it prior to posting :-) It seems to work just fine :-) Why on't you see for yourself?

Oleg

0 Likes
180 Views
MVP
MVP

Single Quote.png

180 Views
adriano_fornoni
New Contributor III

Thanks a lot. This post will be useful.

0 Likes
180 Views