Qlik Playground Guest Blog: Searching data with Qlik

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1st December 2016 | Thomas Summers

Searching data is difficult to do well.

Speed, relevance and the ability to interpret free text all add complexity to functionality that can seem basic to the end user of a data-based app or dashboard.

This blog is about how Qlik technology deals with these issues, and how you can take advantage of that tech through Qlik Playground.

When the average person uses a search engine to find information, chances are they rattle off a few keywords, and they are used to having relevant results returned in milliseconds. When we work with data to build our own visualizations, analyses or apps, it’s a very different story. For one thing, searching with free text? No way- not usually. You’ve got to write a query or two. But not with Qlik Playground. So how does it do it?

When you code, the connections between different strings of data will become increasingly complex and interrelated. Keeping track of these relationships and defining the way they respond to user interaction can be a tall task.

Way back in 1993, Bjorn Berg and Staffan Gestrelius were mulling over these problems, and came up with ideas which went on to form the core of their company, Qlik. They wanted to create software based on the way we actually think about information.

Bjorn struck on a simple concept. The idea was to color code values according to their selection and state within a project. In ‘labeling’ values to signify their status to the user, he hit on an approach that would become the cornerstone of the company’s technology.

By adding many different ‘labels’ to values within a dataset, Qlik makes it possible to quantify and analyze the relationships between those values, and consequently make the dataset more easier to understand for a human. It’s this data ‘intelligence’ that helps enterprises using QlikSense to gain insight from their own information sources.

However, it seemed a shame to keep this to ourselves, so Qlik Playground was born.

Qlik’s analytics engine works by creating ‘labels’ for everything it gets fed, as well as everything created with it, for instance charts and graphs. Qlik Playground gives you a way to leverage the analytics engine through simple APIs. That means you can easily create interactive visualizations, apps and dashes, and make use of the search functionality.

The associative power of the analytics engine has great implications for search.

Searching with the Qlik engine will return a range of results associated with your search terms, and also indicate their status within your project. This makes it easy to integrate with other filters and fields.

Want an example? Check out this Qlik app created using data on UN gender stats.

As you can see, making selections will automatically update the other filters, as well as the results returned by those filters (in this case, which apartments are available).

This app is actually pretty simple to code with Qlik Playground. By creating visualizations using Qlik’s APIs, the connections between filters and selections are maintained for you.

Here’s how easy it is to create a visualization: This example creates a bar chart with one dimension, one measure and a custom title.

app.visualization.create(‘barchart’,[“Case Owner Group”,”=Avg([Case Duration Time])”],

{“title”:”On the fly barchart”}




Freetext search is also possible- and interacts just as easily with your selections. Qlik Playground actually makes a queryless approach to data retrieval possible. This is because Qlik’s analytics engine understands the connections between your ranges of data, and is able to return results that are indirectly related to your search terms.

Functionality like this might impact on performance in other settings, but Qlik’s analytics engine ‘listens’ in via websockets protocol and performs calculations in memory. This means that results are retrieved and delivered without any noticeable difference in speed.

Qlik Playground has been designed as an easy way to get to grips with Qlik technology, and use it to focus on creative aspects of working with data rather than the time consuming ones.

Give it a try– you can start with Playground by authorizing with your Github account, and use the APIs, analytics engine, sample data, and pre-authorized data connections straight away.

Come play!