Book Review: Qlikview for Developers Cookbook by Stephen Redmond
Firstly before we get started; many apologies for the lack of blog posts recently; let’s just say I have a baby shaped excuse. Even though I’ve not been busy blogging that’s not to say that I haven’t been thinking so I’ve got a stack of blog-worthy posts in the pipeline that hopefully you won’t have to wait months for.
Secondly; where on Earth is Qlikview 12? I’m all for it taking as long as it needs but this is getting ridiculous; should integrating NComVA visuals (that QV.next should have been doing already) take this long?. I’m hopeful that it will be ready for the round of ‘Business Discovery World Tour’ events later in the year, if not I might disappear and do something that’s a bit more interesting than waiting for the proverbial bus that never comes.
Thirdly; on to the review.
Firstly (Fourthly!?); A bit of disclosure; I like many in the Qlikview blog-o-sphere have received a free copy of Qlikview for Developers Cookbook (QDC) from Packt publishing – it’s a book I would have bought anyway and this is a blog post I would have written regardless – so many thanks to Packt. Despite their beneficence this will be that same review had I spent my hard earned Qlik-Dollars on the book.
So, what’s this book all about. Well after the sucess of ‘Qlikview 11 for Developers’ (recommended for any Qlikview greenhorn and a review to follow soon – I hope) it’s hardly suprising that Packt have published another and whilst not as comprehensive as the previous publication (it’s not meant to be per se) it is on the whole a very worthy addition to growing Qlikview library of books. *Packt have more Qlikview books scheduled for release shortly. QDC is essentially what the title suggests; a selection of recipes for different Qlikview elements, it’s not a step by step how to guide as that’s already been covered instead it’s essentially one Qlikview expert’s ‘Top Tips’ all explained in necessary detail.
For me this ‘Cookbook’ style of book lives or dies by the quality of the ‘recipes’, back in the day I bought many a SQL and MS Access ‘Top 100 Hacks-stylee’ book only to find that none of the hacks had anything to do with what I was doing so I approached this review with some trepidation. Thankfully I needn’t have worried too much as a good number of the recipes are really useful, of course some I’m never going to use but that can’t be helped when you’re collating 80 different solutions.
I’ll touch on a few of my favourite recipes (without telling you how to do them – buy the book; Stephen needs all the royalties he can get for fancy running gear).
1. The very first recipe: ‘Custom Pop-up Labels on a Bar Chart’. This has gone straight into my default repetoire, essentially it allows you to have much better control over the contents of the Pop-up labels associated with data points (not just on Bar Charts as the title suggests) and therefore pass much more data / insight across to the user – need to know what that lonely outlier dot is in a Scatter chart? – just hover over it to get all the pertinent information – worth the cost of the book on it’s own and we’re only on page 8.
2. Modifying the Selection Colour Schemes. Everyone who’s used Qlikview must at some point have thought: ‘can I change that vivid green?’ – I know I have and QDC will give you a method to do it so if you want to wow and astound all your Qlikview friends this is the recipe for you. Qliktech for their part steadfastly refuse to allow straight forward amending of the Green, White and Grey colour scheme as they think its one of their key selling points and I kind of agree but why not ‘Colour of your choice’, White and Grey? – then we can match to company colour schemes.
There are many other useful recipes in the book that I found to be of either direct use or proved to be a pointer in the right direction for a particular situation I could think of in my day to day Qlikview work. So all in all a good and worthwhile selection of recipes and tips. My only slight critisism would be that several are taken from Stephen’s existing blog http://www.qliktips.com/ so if you follow that then you’ve seen some of the solutions already. I have to admit I’d do the same thing if I were in Stephen’s shoes so it’s only a minor complaint.
Like Stephen’s blog the recipes are presented well and the instructions are clear and easy to follow which is just what you need, I’d question the heavy inclusion of Script and VB in the actual print version as I can’t see too many people copying it out when its available via the Packt website but again that’s a minor gripe.
My only non-minor grip about the book lies more at the door of Packt themselves that with Stephen and that’s the general layout of the book. For instance the recipes don’t start on new pages they simply carry on from the next which I found quite frustraiting when skimming through the book. Also it would be good if we saw an image of the end results of all the recipes – ie the Pop-up label example; we see how the ‘before’ looks but not the after which is surely the more pertinent. That said we must remember that Packt class themseleves as an ‘On-Demand’ publisher, it’s perhaps unreasonable to expect them to invest the same time and care in layout as say Edward Tufte does with his self-published books…and it is a ‘manual’ after all.
I’d like to make it clear that none of those gripes get in the way of this book being a well worthwhile purchase for any Qlikview Developer – if you’re not a developer buy Qlikview 11 for Developers then buy this. Even a hard-nossed day-in-day-out Qlikview geek like me learned something from the book and ultimately that’s what books like this are about; picking up a few key bits of knowledge you wouldn’t have otherwise come across.
Qlikview for Developers Cookbook can be purchased in ye-olde paper form or new-fangled digital form here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/QlikView-Developers-Cookbook-Stephen-Redmond/dp/1782179739
For more info on Packt visit: http://www.packtpub.com/
Finally; You’ll all be pleased to know that The Redmond Aged Debt chart does make an appearance in the book!
All the best and hopefully it won’t be as long next time.