One thing I had to do today was create a load of variables for my Qlik model and I thought I’d put pen to paper (fingers to keys anyway) to share an easy guide via my website on how to import them from an Excel spreadsheet.
Due to the imminent launch of QlickXL Consulting I thought it would be wise to look at the Qlik Continuous Classroom and what benefit I could get from it. I thought I’d jot down some quick thoughts for anyone else considering using it…
So what is it and is it worth using?
In short, it provides an easy, interactive way to learn how to get more out of Qlik, so I’d say you bet it is!!!
Qlik splits learning plans up to focus the type of things different types of users may need to know. The learning plans are then split in to levels (Basic, Intermediate, etc), which in turn are partitioned into sections to make the content easier to digest. Each part is then further sub divided (let’s call these elements) and has approximate times to complete against each. The point here is that you can choose to just do a small amount of study at a time, which was perfect for me to fit around a busy family life. Each elements then has ready made exercises to download, on which interactive videos are then based, so it’s not just a ‘chalk and talk’ borefest!! On top of that there are self-paced practice exercises, takeaway documents (cheat sheets) and a self test. I know there is also other benefits around online webinars amongst others but as yet I’ve not taken part in those…
I’ve just spent a decent amount of time studying the business analyst learning plan, which culminated in a final multi choice exam and ultimately a Qlik qualification. The annual cost of this plan is currently $1,500 (say £1,200, and right now has 25% off so all in is around £900) and is designed for the type of user that wants to design dashboards and use the data manager (think load script wizard) to bring in data.
My initial thoughts that were given that I’ve had a number of years experience working on Qlik Sense that this would be too basic to gain value from and walk in the park. Not so. There are so many features that a self taught developer doesn’t touch and with the innovations that are released regularly you don’t always stay totally up to date with new ways of working.
I’ve now walked away from what I consider well invested time with a broader and more structured understanding of the front end of Qlik and will be using much more of the tool in future.
For the Qlik official word on what it offers please click here.
Qlik Data Architect learning plan!
So I thought I’d continue with the Qlik continuous classroom and tackle the Data Architect learning plan. I’d got bitten by the learning bug by this point and given again I’d been writing script for some time I thought ‘how hard could it be?’. Wowzers was I in for a shock…. this was hard….
The Qlik learning side was still 10 out of 10. Interactive videos with downloadable exercises and follow up self paced learning plans, which is cool. Allowing me to take it bite by by bite. It started off with the basics around using the load editor, associations and more really helpful bits around the data manager too.
Moving onto the Intermediate section of the plan I was starting to feel at home, albeit learning some great technique and some useful extra features and functions that I’d never used before. It was great to get to grips with the technical side of the script that I confess in the past I’ve maybe just copy and pasted and used verbatim without thinking too much about (sorry but I’m sure other developers do have a habit of doing this from time to time too!!) .
Then came the ADVANCED section and boy did this stretch me!!! While I’ve worked with section access (aka user restricted data) in the past this has given me so many new ideas around how to apply it across an enterprise. Also playing with the Monte Carlo simulations has given me a new appreciation of how I can enrich system generated data. Then finally having the education with on demand app generation and direct discovery has also planted seeds when it comes to ways to minimise load times and where required produce near real time dashboards.
After completing the final stage I was far from confident of passing the final exam but was more than relieved when I came up trumps!!!
Thank you to the guys at Qlik for this gift as part of my Luminary award. It’s value to a seasoned developer is massive and anyone out there looking to either become a fully fledged Qlik front or back end developer can’t go wrong spending money on this valuable resource.
A well established, stable, local provider and development partner
Whilst cost is always balanced with benefits the conclusion we came involved;
Power BI was too new and had a smaller comparative online community. Local partners were generalists. It also seemed more focused on cloud ERP infrastructure, which in a world of data security went against our IT security strategy. The query builder is relatively simple to use and the visuals are easy to get to grips with.
Tableau was a close second. It has a good GUI & scripting facility and the visuals are by far the best on the market.
Qlik had a relatively new product in Qlik Sense, albeit backward supported via a vast history of technical online support & community. For the uber geeks amongst us the scripting side of things seemed pretty unrestrictive and hence more appealing.
Our choice then..
Googling presented a number of local companies that dealt with Qlik Sense. We selected a few specialists, did credit checks to make sure they checked out financially and arranged visits to their offices.
We chose QlikIT of Rotherham. It was a great choice. They have been great development partners and I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone – QlikIT website
After a few detailed demos we were even more convinced that we could quickly implement a solution that would add value to our data. We would not need to make changes to our current systems and could pretty much grab data from all of our warehouses of data and keep it all on premises.
Qlik Sense is swift due to the database being held in server memory, which allowed for users to dive all over the place to quickly discover insights. You can develop it with a light touch approach via the GUI or geek out on what so far seems pretty unlimited scripting functionality.
Don’t get me wrong the visuals are still under development and seem a few years behind the latest web graphics but they do the job nicely. Could just do with tarting up a bit and adding some extra functionality. Qlik are very active with developments and release regular updates that always provide a leap in functionality rather than unnoticeable patches. There are also a decent number of free extensions (think apps / add ons) to enhance it.