Qlik Sense

Screen capture from Qlik Sense's desktop Application

Screen capture from Qlik Sense's desktop Application

'Alea iacta est – the die is cast'


As more and more data and data analytics is used for decision making, the capability requirements of BI tools have evolved to include, for instance:

Real time analytics – Fast response times are essential in decision making nowadays.

Self-service, data discovery – BI tools aren’t only for analysts anymore. New perspectives into collected data are constantly under search.

Behavioral data – A lot of data is collected from multiple sources and the amount of data is constantly rising.

Customization, extendability & compability – Customizability is highly essential at least in management-level dashboards. Extensions and possibility to use new technologies in the dashboard development is appreciated.

Responsiveness, mobility and machine independency – It is required that reports can be viewed anywhere and with any device, responsiveness can be considered as an assumption.

Collaboration & file sharing – Team work and co-operation represent the current way of working in companies. Files and projects need to be available for every relevant person.

Last month, Gartner published a Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms.

According to Gartner, one of the obvious BI-tool leaders is Tableau Software. In our opinion, Tableau’s best features include a friendly UI with extensive editing possibilities as well as remarkable analytical possibilities. Cons for Tableau are query based logics and the workflow, where the user needs first to make charts in individual sheets before a dashboard can be composed. More about Tableau’s newest features can be read from our developer’s blog post: Tableau 9.0 release.

A significant competitor for Tableau is Qlik, which has a strong position in the marketplace particularly in Europe. In Gartner’s report, Qlik is a market leader in data discovery. For several years Qlik’s main product has been QlikView (read more about QlikView from our developer’s earlier post in Finnish), but last July, Qlik announced the release of a new product family, Qlik Sense. The product family contains Qlik Sense desktop application, Qlik Sense Platform and Qlik Sense Cloud, which is still a beta-version, but it’ll provide users the ability to upload and share apps with others.

Qlik Sense desktop application is a self-service and data discovery tool with fast and easy to use drag-and-drop features and a user friendly UI. The major limitations are the slight customization possibilities of the dashboard. It is free for personal and internal business use and the licensing is based on tokens, which are used to allocate access passes.

Simple visualizations using Qlik Sense Desktop:

Sense's features include, for instance:

  • Responsive design
  • Story telling
  • Snapshots
  • Data perception
  • Mobility
  • Smart visualizations

Multiple different options for data connections are available. Data can be loaded with quick data load from a file, or a connection to e.g. database or folder can be made with Qlik’s data load editor.

Qlik Sense desktop is good as a data discovery tool with machine independent features. Qlik Sense makes analysis possible for non-analysts.

Opportunities for Developers

Qlik Sense´s ability to create and use JavaScript based extensions is encouraging. Qlik has established an open collaborative platform for Qlik Sense developers. The platform is called Qlik Branch, and its main purpose is to operate as a distribution platform for open source projects (new chart possibilities etc.), which are developed for Qlik Sense.

Sense’s extensions are easily editable in desktop application’s locally used workbench. With HTML, CSS and JavaScript skills it is possible to create stylish and unique visualizations. It is also possible to utilize multiple ready-made frameworks and libraries (e.g. Bootstrap, d3.js, jQuery) when developing dashboards in workbench. An experienced user will be able to create totally new visualizations, where the only limit is the imagination.

Compability and further utilization of Qlik Sense

Qlik offers web-based APIs for Sense, so that it is possible easily to embed processed data or whole charts into HTML pages. One example of Qlik Sense’s potential is vaalipöhinä.fi, which was developed as co-operation project with three companies: BIGDATAPUMP, Adage and Qlik Finland. In this particular project, Qlik Sense’s powerful search engine is utilized, while charts and UI are custom coded by Adage. BIGDATAPUMP collected and parsed the data from Twitter and made thesentiment analysis using Receptiviti solution.

Screenshots from Vaalipöhinä.fi site:


Even if Qlik Sense is a quite new tool with some major limitations, it is under constant development and has great potential.