Sunday, 26 May 2013

Review of QlikView 11 for Developers

There have been a handful of books on QlikView released over the last couple of years, most set on trying to teach new users how to build successful applications, but all have yet to hit the spot for me; there was always something missing. I regularly get asked by customers if there is a book I would recommend, but for me to recommend a book to a client I need to be confident in the advice it gives. Ultimately I'll be the one who ends up picking up the pieces if it's bad advice. Because of this, in the past, I've avoided recommending a book and instead suggested other routes and resources available.

QlikView 11 for Developers was released towards the end of 2012 and is authored by Miguel Garcia and Barry Harmsen, both experienced QlikView consultants. The back of the book makes the following claim:
This book will help you learn QlikView Development from a basic to a practitioner level using a step-by-step approach in a practical environment, and apply proven best practices along the way.

Anyone who has experience of the QlikView Designer and Developer courses will know that they are based on the principal of hands-on learning; building a predefined solution from scratch and learning along the way. QlikView 11 for Developers does exactly the same, guiding you step-by-step from building your first simple application, to growing the application into a full blown solution.

I've had this book for quite a while now and had intended to write this review months ago, but once I received the book and started to flick through it I realised I needed to read it in detail, to be confident to not only recommend it here but also to my customers.

So what does it cover?

To work through the book you'll need to first download the examples and sample data that accompanies it. You'll use these files to build the final solution as you work through the book.  Details of how to get hold of them are included at the start.

Once you're past the introductions and dedications, the first chapter kicks things off with an introduction to QlikView including a walk through the Desktop application that you will become more than familiar with by the end of the book. It also introduces readers to HighCloud Airlines, the fictional organisation that forms the basis for the sample data and applications you will develop as you progress through the book.

Chapter 2 introduces a Seeing Is Believing (SIB). This is really a marketing term and has more to do with how QlikView is sold than how it is later implemented and so unless you are a consultant it won't play a big part in your future use of QlikView. The principle of a SIB is to build a very small application using some real data to allow the customer to see how quickly valuable insights can be gained from their data. In the book, a SIB is used to introduce readers to the basics of what a dimension and expression are in order to build our first chart in QlikView

In chapter 3 the script is introduced and you are guided through using the wizards to generate a small script to load your first sample of data. You will also be introduced to what QVD and QVX files are and how they can be loaded.

Chapter 4 introduces the different forms of data model and their benefits and pitfalls in QlikView. Importantly it also explains the Associative Data Engine that lies as the heart of QlikView. You'll also get an explanation of the Table Viewer window.

Chapters 5 and 6 introduce some of the sheet objects available as well as how they can be styled using the vast array of properties available for each. You will also be introduced to the DAR methodology for creating dashboards and reports in QlikView and create some basic expressions along the way. You'll be walked through everything from a list box to the various types of charts available and the things a text object can be used for other than the obvious.

Chapters 7 through 9 delve deeper into the possibilities of the scripting language in QlikView. You will be walked through how the data can be transformed and manipulated to form a useful data model. Topics covered include joins, concatenations, mapping tables, storing tables into QVD files, key fields and link tables. You'll also meet the all important master calendar.

Chapters 10 and 11 go back to the front end of QlikView and cover some of the advanced things that can be done within expressions. You'll so get to see some of the things variables can be used for and what Dollar Sign Expansion is. We're also given an explanation of the aggr() function and what it can be used for. Set Analysis is a topic many people struggle with and is often explained very badly. Thankfully in chapter 11 you'll find a simple, straightforward explanation and use Set Analysis to create some useful expressions.

In chapter 12 we're taken back to the script to look at some of the advanced data manipulation and transformation techniques available in QV including aggregating and sorting data in the script and the use of the Intervalmatch statement to handle slowly changing dimensions. We're also introduced to the topic of incremental loads.

Chapter 13 moves once again back to the front end and delves into the array of advance techniques than can be used to control the look, feel and user experience of your solutions. Topics covered include themes, triggers, actions and alerts.

In the final chapter the book looks at the topic of security in QlikView. We look at Section Access and how it can be used to reduce the sheets, objects and even data the users can see.

So you can see the book covers a lot in its 500 pages. It doesn't cover everything by far but no one book could hope to. What it does cover is the vast majority of the most commonly used features and QlikView development and design topics that even an experienced QlikView consultant like myself uses on a daily basis. Think of it like the 80/20 rule, it covers the 20% of functionality that gets used 80% of the time.

What do I think of it?

As mentioned above, the book is intended as self teaching guide to QlikView, so did I learn anything? No, but having been working with QlikView exclusively for 8 years then that's not very surprising really; I'm not exactly the target audience and I'd have been a little concerned if I had. But would I recommend it to you guys? Yes I would, and I have recommended it to my customers several times already. If you are just starting out with QlikView or are wanting to progress past the basics, then go invest in a copy right this second. I'm a certified QlikView trainer and I even think QlikView 11 for Delevopers explains some topics better than in the QlikView formal training.

In my opinion, the 2 most important words in the quote above taken from the back of the book are "best practices". Any of the QlikView consultants who have worked with me over the years will tell you that I have a huge hang up on best practice. A lot is written about best practice in QlikView, but it all fails to take into account one simple fact, best practice in principle and best practice in real world implementations are two very different things! The real world conspires to mean that no 2 sets of requirements will ever be the same and because of this, best practice statements tend to be very generalised and "fluffy". So what about the best practice advice in QlikView 11 for Developers? Well put simply, the advice and best practice given are generally sound and there is very little I wouldn't agree 100% with. In my opinion, this is one huge thing that sets it apart from the other books available.

Are there any negatives?

I do have a couple of minor criticisms. Firstly the book switches backwards and forwards a fair bit between the script and the front end of QlikView. This is fine if you are following the book through chapter by chapter as you can see your application build step-by-step and it does reflect the way most applications are built up in stages. However, it makes using the book as a reference guide a bit more tricky. It also makes it a little harder (but far from impossible) for people who have experience with the front end to extend their knowledge to the scripting side of QV.

I'm also not sure about the inclusion of SIBs as the vast majority of users will never come across the term again. It doesn't really hurt though and so is far from a major issue.

The bottom line?

The bottom line is simple, it's by far the best "teach yourself QlikView" book I've come across yet. A real substitute for the formal QlikView training and something I'm happy to recommend!

How do you get a copy?

You can get QlikView 11 for Developers in both paperback and ebook versions. I'll include a few links here for places where you can buy the book but I'm sure you can get it from other places also.  - Paperback and Kindle eBook - Paperback and Kindle eBook - eBook
Packt Publishing - Paperback and various eBook formats

The legal bit: I did receive a copy of the book free of charge from the publisher Packt in exchange for writing this review. I received no other incentive from either the publisher or the authors and neither had any input into the content of this review, thus the opinions expressed are solely my own.


  1. thank you for providing such a nice information .
    qlikview is essential for who are learning business intelligence and how its apply in real time.
    QlikView Online Training Course

  2. Hi Matt,

    I realize I'm a little late to respond to your review :) Thank you for your thorough review.

    Just to clarify why we included the SiB chapter; we wanted to give the readers a feeling of progress as they go through the book. The SiB chapter gives the readers visible results early in the book and gives them a taste of the potential of QlikView. Hopefully, this motivates them to go through all the scripting stuff that follows the SiB chapter.

    Switching between the back- and front-end is done so that readers can (hopefully) already get somewhat productive with QlikView even before finishing the entire book. It's not uncommon for people to read the first 7 or 8 chapters, get some hands-on experience building their own applications and then returning to read the rest.

    Kind regards,

  3. Hi Mathew,

    kindly assist me getting to know where i can get the high cloud airline files

  4. it would be really helpful if you could guide me on how to get the example files

    1. You can find details for obtaining the files on page 5 of the book.