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Contributor III
Contributor III

NPrinting for Qlik Sense: Fantastic Potential, Horrible Execution

After countless hours of frustration with Qlik Sense NPrinting, I decided I had to get my thoughts out there, so that hopefully someone at Qlik would see them and maybe start doing something about this atrocious tool.  NPrinting is without a doubt the worst tool (with the most promise) that I have ever used.  The fact that it has so much potential is the only reason we've stuck with it this far.  We simply had to find a better way to automate the e-mail distribution of our numerous Excel-based reports.  We thought NPrinting was going to be that tool.  NPrinting was one of the key reasons we went with Qlik in the first place.  Now, having seen how poor of a tool it is, we're rethinking our decision for purchasing Qlik.

Lest you think I'm just having a bad day and wanting to rant, here are some very specific, fundamental issues we're having with NPrinting.  Due to these issues, we are unable to use NPrinting for anything more than very simple jobs with no risk associated with them.  And these issues are over and above the terrible, unintuitive interface we're stuck with using.

1. NPrinting is not supported on iPhones/iPads.  We were all set to go with a daily sales report file that took months to put together, but found out that when viewed on iPhones, the number formatting in the file was lost.  We subsequently found out from Qlik Support that iPhones aren’t supported.  Ultimately we had to scrap the work we did on this and go back to our manual distribution approach.

2. There’s absolutely no thought or ability to handle change management in NPrinting (which we’re required to follow by our internal audit department).  This also means that as we move all our infrastructure over to AWS, it appears we have to completely redo every NPrinting app/connection/task/report over in AWS (there’s no way to copy or move content over).

3. When e-mails are sent out to multiple people, each e-mail is sent out separately to each person – meaning people can’t see who all got that report.  We’ve had to resort to creating multiple Outlook e-mail groups to make sure everyone sees who’s getting the report.

4. E-mail subject lines can’t be set up dynamically – which means we can’t embed a date in the subject line, showing the file as of date.  (We believe at least this one item is on the short-term roadmap – but it seems crazy that such a basic feature was not available initially.)

5. NPrinting reports cannot be set up to be dependent on a Qlik refresh.  The only option you have is to set the distribution to go out at a specific time of day.  We had to purchase a tool from a vendor to allow us to use an external scheduler to kick off an NPrinting report using a Qlik app refresh as a dependency.

6. There are certain “Admin” tasks (such as being able to view activity logs, doing import/export of templates, etc.) that we believe should be available to Developers – but we don’t really want to set every developer up in an Admin role.  It doesn’t appear that there’s a way to separate out these tasks between roles.

7. We’ve had significant trouble with pulling in tables from Qlik that have any more than maybe 10k-20k rows.  It was taking us up to 2 hours to generate an Excel file with a table that only had 30k rows in it.

Please, Qlik - please fix these issues quickly and make this tool actually usable!

Steve

8 Replies
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Hi Steve,

As much as i agree with you in general on the NPrinting delivery execution from Qlik and lack of some functionalities i have to say that some of your points i disagree with. To be clear here I am not Qlik employee so i will not try to support product here and say how great it is, but as a NPrinitng advocate and someone who spends quite a lot of time helping people to build well designed NPrinting solutions i will try to provide you with some basic information of the solutions currently available with out of the box NPrinting as well as comment and agree on some of the points you have mentioned.

1. Mobile - I am not sure what you were trying to do with it on mobile. Are you talking about accessing News Stand on mobile or viewing reports (files) on mobile?

2. Change management - i disagree,

  • There are backups/restore functions which allow you to move whole repository to other environment
  • There is import/export functionality for single reports migration

3. Do i agree on this? I am not sure. I am looking at the reasons behing this. I believe this solution comes as a result of creating user specific reports. Since each user potentially can have different filter each report has to be sent separately to individual users. I agree that there should be a toggle at higher level allowing to send report to whole group of recipients at once.

4. Totaly agree with you!

5. I have to disagree with you on this. You did not have to purchase anything and the solution can be fully suported with existing Qlik components - more info here How to use Qlik NPrinting APIs inside a Qlik Sense load script

6. NPrinitng developers should be highly skilled people. They should first of all be very good Qlik Sense developers understanding how to build Qlik Sense applications with all best practicies on all 3 levels (data, script, visualisation/expression). Then those people have to be highly skilled in NPrinitng. They need to know what they are doing - else they should not be "developers". If you assumed that building a NPrinitng template is easy and does not require knowledge - you assumed wrong. Whoever builds NPrinting template/report needs to be on top of Qlik app development as well as NPrinitng development.

In such case you don't need to worry about those people having an admin rights. In fact developers should be admins since NPrinting development involves a lot of admin tasks which potentialy can affect whole environment. I can see that it would be nice to have more granular split when defining particular roles in NPrinting (such as availability to split visibility of  sections of admin part of NPrinting admin console)

7. This is where NPrinitng development knowledge comes to play and Qlik Sense + NPrinting template design plays most important role. Lack of knowledge of how to set it up properly/optymaly leads to issues like yours.

I actually think that NPrinitng with Qlik Sense works quite fast and well if it is setup properly. There is an OnDemand functionality missing which is the biggest gap for me at the moment, but other than that i think it is not as bad as you descibe.

at the end it would be great to know which version of Qlik Sense and NPrinting are you running. Since you are looking for constant improvement i assume you have the latests version of both tools installed.

kind regards

Lech

cheers Lech, When applicable please mark the correct/appropriate replies as "solution" (you can mark up to 3 "solutions". Please LIKE threads if the provided solution is helpful to the problem.
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Steve - by the way, I also had that one day to vent - enjoy

Qlik NPrinting Year-in-Review

cheers Lech, When applicable please mark the correct/appropriate replies as "solution" (you can mark up to 3 "solutions". Please LIKE threads if the provided solution is helpful to the problem.
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Contributor III
Contributor III

Thanks for the responses, Lech - they were definitely helpful.  It looks like you have a lot of experience with NPrinting (and some frustrations of your own!).

Here are some responses to your responses:

1. We created an Excel file to replace our manual daily sales report file (which we’ve been doing manually for a number of years).  We had all of the pieces in place (whole process took over 6 months) and finally launched the report with a lot of relief that we’d automated a daily manual report.  However, on the first day we were notified by multiple recipients that when they viewed the file on their iPhones, the number formatting in all the Excel pivot tables was gone – meaning that instead of looking at a nice formatted number like $127,045, they were looking at 127045.21456.  This made the report almost unreadable, and since most of our key customers use iPhones, we had to go back to our manual process.  We checked with Qlik, and got the response that NPrinting is not supported on iPhones.  We had checked how the file looked on an iPhone early on, and things had looked good initially, but unfortunately we didn’t verify how it looked prior to launch.

2. We’re not aware of any backup/restore functionality.  And really, that doesn’t necessarily qualify as “change management” in my mind.  We are required internally to develop reporting content in a Dev environment, then move it to QA for validation/testing, and then finally to Prod.  In NPrinting, there are no environments – everything is lumped together.  We’ve tried to simulate different environments by using naming conventions (using “Dev”, “QA”, and “Prod” in our app, connection, report names, etc.).  However, we have found no way of promoting all of the apps, connections, filters, tasks, triggers, etc. from one “environment” to another.  We are aware it’s possible to export a report template (i.e. an Excel file) and import it into a new report – however, that’s just one piece.  None of the other components that make up the full process can be copied like that.

5. I agree that nothing technically needs purchased to automate NPrinting tasks based on Qlik dependencies.  However, that assumes you have the technical expertise in-house to use Qlik APIs, etc.  We did not, so we had to purchase a tool from a vendor who did have that capability.  We feel that NPrinting tasks should be part of the Qlik QMC, which would truly integrate the two pieces together.

6. We as developers don’t worry about having Admin rights.  It’s our Qlik admin, and our IT and internal audit departments that have a problem with it.  They want some separation between admins and developers, and we’ve not been able to fully make this happen with NPrinting.

Thanks,
Steve

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Contributor II
Contributor II

fsv‌ any insight on these issues Frank?

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Employee
Employee

Hi,

1 - You can create HTML reports and embed them into email bodies. In this way you can customize the HTML code in order to met proprietary requirements needed for Apple devices. The are also only tools that help you in previewing the results in different mobile devices. We had similar problems in the past due to a non standard behavior of some mobile devices. You could also to insert formulas for formatting specific data.

2 - I agree with lech_miszkiewicz. You can backup your whole Qlik NPrinting installation and restore to another of the same version that will be overwritten. You can export a specific report and restore it in a different installation. Both possibilities are described in the help site and you don't need to rebuild everything.

3 - Each email is sent separately to each recipient because each recipient must see only the data he/she is authorized. The generic case is that each user has different filters. So also when a group of users have the same filters and should receive the same data they will receive separate emails. You can use Carbon Copy that is supported. There are many internal optimizations to minimize the use of the SMTP server to speed up the delivering process.

4 - Email subjects can be dynamic. Insert one of the available tag in the email body then cut it and paste in the subject. It will be replaced during the report generation. What lacks at the moment is the icon to insert tags directlly in the subjects.


5 - Refer to Lech's answer


6 - Admin and developers are built-in roles but you can create new customized roles based on your needs. You can also associate more than a single role to a user. For example you can create your custom developer role instead of using the built in and give to that new role the right to import and export templates. The only feature that at the moment lacks of a specific right in the roles is the Task Execution page that is visible only by administrators.


7 - This seems a performance issue. Keep the hw resources usage under control in the QlikView and Qlik NPrinting Server and Engines during the report production. In case you can add more Qlik NPrinting Engines to scale or increase the hw resources assigned to them (with QlikView connection give a maximum of 12 cores for each Engine). Remember that you cannot install QlikView and Qlik NPrinting Server on the same computer. Then you can also create a QlikView document only for the reporting needs and you can optimize it for example by loading only the data you need for reporting, by avoiding any calculation on the chart and moving them in the reload script, by save only the needed charts and minimized.

Best Regards,

Ruggero

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When applicable please mark the appropriate replies as CORRECT https://community.qlik.com/docs/DOC-14806. This will help community members and Qlik Employees know which discussions have already been addressed and have a possible known solution. Please mark threads as HELPFUL if the provided solution is helpful to the problem, but does not necessarily solve the indicated problem. You can mark multiple threads as HELPFUL if you feel additional info is useful to others.



Best Regards,
Ruggero
---------------------------------------------
When applicable please mark the appropriate replies as CORRECT. This will help community members and Qlik Employees know which discussions have already been addressed and have a possible known solution. Please mark threads with a LIKE if the provided solution is helpful to the problem, but does not necessarily solve the indicated problem. You can mark multiple threads with LIKEs if you feel additional info is useful to others.
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Contributor
Contributor

I agree completely here. Facing similar issues

The NPrinting tool features are really limited and the tool is not a full fledged reporting tool. 

For many things we need to go back and forth to Qlikview and also limited access is provided to developers. For every thing we need to contact admins. The TAT for developing a report becomes too high. 

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Hi @psk_270185 

I answered few years ago and I will answer now. As of today I think NPrinting with Qlik Sense is great. Yes it requires skills and knowledge, but at the end If you just start up any tool and try to build something by yourself unless you have skills you will built a poor solution. 

I don't know what skill set you have, but imagine situation that you need to build a web app. You browse internet, google things etc.. and at the end you find this "tool" which with GUI allows you to build a web app. Yes you are able to do it and yes it may be working, but is it a great app? On the other hand you could use React, Angular or Vue or any other TS to build your great app with great optimisation and all required bells and whistles, but to do that you need skills - great technical skills.

The same principal applies to any other tool stack like QlikView, Qlik Sense, PowerBi, Tableau etc... If you are not an expert you make a use case of the tool only as great as your knowledge is and most of suffering is coming from lack of the knowledge at the time when you started using it. If you knew at the beginning how to use it properly you would be aware of all limitations and you would have planned for it.

That is only my opinion. I understand some people frustrations but I don't understand grounds of those frustrations...

cheers Lech, When applicable please mark the correct/appropriate replies as "solution" (you can mark up to 3 "solutions". Please LIKE threads if the provided solution is helpful to the problem.
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Contributor
Contributor

5. NPrinting reports cannot be set up to be dependent on a Qlik refresh.

This can be done using NPrinting APIs and we have implemented it successfully. NP APIs can be called from QlikSense apps. Set up an app with the API calls and set it to trigger after the main app reload. Download the qvs from this link for reference. https://nprintingadventures.com/2019/11/28/nprinting-api-qlik-rest-subroutines-v1-1/