QlikView Review
QlikView vs Tableau


As promised in my last “first look” review, I’m taking Qlikview 10 for a spin. For those of you not familiar with Qlikview it’s a data visualization tool that’s designed to make the creation of ad-hoc reports and dashboards, from existing data, quick and simple.

Installation

Getting hold of Qlikview is a matter of registering on their web site and downloading the “personal” edition. The personal edition has the limitation of not being able to share your Qlikview files with any other users, but doesn’t appear to have any other time or functionality restrictions.

You will probably want to download the tutorial. This is made up of some sample files and a PDF tutorial. Whilst a PDF feels a bit “old school” however it is clearly written and progressive, making it pretty easy to follow.

Interface

The interface is very “Office 2003”. Not a bad thing, in that most of the icons are pretty easy to figure out, but it does feel quite dated (Qlikview 11 is being trumpeted on their blog – so this may be remedied soon). The workspace is also pretty bare until you start adding some data. There’s not too much clutter though and most Windows follow sensible conventions (right click on an object for properties etc.)

Properties window. Lots there, but fairly accessible

Applying the “man test”

Being a vain middle aged man I prefer not to read tutorials and instructions. The “man test” is very subjective, and in this case I did resort to reading the tutorial (whereas with Tableau I was compelled by child-like curiosity to cobble something together without instructions). This isn’t to say that Qlikview isn’t intuitive – it’s really very good, but it’s not quite as visual and inviting as apps such as Tableau.

Features that really stood out

Qlikview seems to bring the data to the fore. Your start point is very much the fields that make up the database and you then add charts onto this. One of Qlikview's specialities – they call it the Associative Engine – seems to be the ability to filter all linked fields in other tables when selecting any field in any table. It grays out not applicable data and highlights linked data in white – so you understand the associative relationship (or not) between datasets.

I think I’d need to use this tool in anger on my own data set to really understand the benefits of this approach, but it seems logical and intuitive – all good.

Dashboards are quick and easy to create, at least as simple as Tableau – they are both drag-and-drop efforts. Qlikview makes it fractionally easier to tweak the look and feel of objects.

Tables are easy to create and to drop into dashboards. Interactivity on tables and charts is excellent, allowing you to reselect data and ranges on the fly.

Things I didn’t like

This type of tool is all about delivering insight from your data. This inevitably includes charts. Working through the tutorial I was very disappointed by the standard of charts shown. Now it may well be possible to tweak these graphs to follow better practice, but frankly we shouldn’t have to. Having charts like this:

…is unacceptable. It shows a real lack of understanding of how to present information and you wonder how much of this attitude spills into the design of other templates and software features. The 3d pie chart…

.. had me biting lumps out of the carpet – but perhaps it’s just me (see this rant about pie charts for the background of my loathing). By the time I got to mock-gauges…

…I was inconsolable. Tableau can do “proper” charts, with minimal clutter, careful use of colour and good layout – Qlikview, you can do better.

One of Qlikview's selling points is that it’s “in-memory”, so it should be able to execute analysis very swiftly. However, the Gartner report from 2011 on BI tools indicates that customers are not particularly stunned by the overall speed of Qlikview and I have concerns over server memory usage – a query I still have open with Qlikview sales (i.e. what happens when you exceed the available memory with your requirements).

Sharing

There are lots of ways to share your output:

  • Over the intra/internet
  • To a dedicated client app on your PC
  • To mobile phones/tablets (iOS, Blackberry and Android supported)
  • Export to Excel
  • PDF

Pretty much every method you could hope for, save carrier pigeon.

Verdict

I like the ease of use of Qlikview. I was very under-whelmed by it’s charting ability- it feels like the defaults and the tutorial regard graphic representation as an afterthought – this was backed up by their sales person commenting on the “pretty graphs” of their rival – Qlikview – you just don’t seem to get it!  The company are making great play of the way it handles data, and specifically the relationship between that data, so I think it merits some further investigation. Watch this space for some longer-term road testing and a more in-depth review.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
9 visitors found this review helpful

9 Comments

GaryMReal UserTOP 5POPULAR

I tested Qlikview against Tableau and PowerPivot a couple of years ago with significant amount of data. Qlickview was the only tool who could "take it", meaning it didn't crash. The thing is, in-memory engines are evolving very quickly and Microsoft now has PowerView (built into Excel 2013) and PowerPivot (free add-on to Excel 2010) along with their new server-based in-memory engine in SSAS called the Tabular data model. Although these tools are in their infancy, they integrate with Sharepoint as well as Excel offering users the tool they already use everyday (Excel) and the beauty of a Qlickview interface (Powerview) for next to nothing in licensing. And back end development can be done with their Visual Studio integrated SSDT tool. Microsoft's new to the game but they're worth watching as they may just take over BI in the near future and darn near give it away to customers using Sharepoint and SqlServer enterprise. To me, if MS gets their new product kinks worked out, they beat chasing after one-off hyper expensive BI tool vendors who probably won't be around in 5 years.

21 January 13
it_user1068VendorLEADERBOARD

The fact that QlikView is less visual than Tableau makes it more appealing to developers than users. Users find products not visually appealing difficult to use, hence resort to using Tableau if need be. A good explanation is the fact that visually appealing applications are easier to use than their counterparts. However, this does not mean that QlikView is generally hard to use but only in comparison to Tableau when referring to either users or developers.

21 July 13
H.Emre ArıkanReal User

From the end-user point of view Qlikview is better, you can prepare more beautiful dashboards.

From the rapid development and data discovery point of view Tableau is surpassing. You need only a db connection and you are on the way..
I would not even classify Qlikview as as a data discovery tool because of IT dependancy during dataset preperation at the start..

09 January 14
Hariharasudan PReal User

QV - Associative Experience, In-Memory, Compression of data, on the fly - calculations and huge customziation in terms of pixel perfect dashboards. create layering of your charts and images, actions, navigation controls and show/hide options and several more. Decoding of other person work is easier.

Tableau - Purely self service BI and Visualization tool. Drag and drop feature. VizQL and Show Me Options. It teaches you visualization. Visualization is much better here. But decoding of other person work is difficult.

31 January 14
it_user77913Real User

Let me put it this way. Tableau is playing similar cards which helped QlikView to rise to prominence 5-6 years back - Visualization, Easy to Use, Self Service and Quick development time. It's just that Tableau has taken all these end user plus points to the next level. So, no question on these parameters - Tableau scores, as it is built to play on these stengths.

However, Qlikview is not only about visualization or ease of usability. Fundamentally, it is a brilliant tool with amazing ETL capabilities and flexibility. From QV V8 to V11, it has matured a lot with new features getting added on with each version - I would say last 1 year has been quite stagnant though. I'm waiting for QlikView.Next which apparently is built to go to the next level in terms of visualization, ease of development and drag / drop features.

03 February 14
it_user78390Real User

Qlikview is a vastly more capable tool for a technical person, the scripting language is amazingly powerful.
However it takes a long time to get the knack and the visual aspects are difficult to make beautiful.

03 February 14
it_user136791Real User

Tableau can visualize KPI as in QlickView, no problem) did it in one week - http://www.dbrush.ru/blog/examples/46-tableau-vs-qlickveiw.html

26 June 14
reviewer189711User

I am experiencing lot of performance issue with QV. It's very slow. Not able to hold large data. 10K row limitation. I am exploring other options - can someone recommend something?

04 February 15
Ed DallalReal UserTOP 20

Hello,
I believe QlickSense has addressed most of the charting challenges listed above and most recently just announced the capabilities to be able to export to PDF or PowerPoint and print the story/charts. Very intriguing product in deed.

04 May 15
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