Your Customers Want Maps and They Want Them Now
This article will show you how to add professional quality maps to your QlikView or Qlik Sense applications.
Over the past year, I have been approached by an increasing number of clients wanting the ability to visualize their data such as sales, customer location, and other metrics by using a QlikView Map or Qlik Sense Map. These days, creating maps is simply a normal expectation of any BI platform.
Problem: Native QlikView Maps – No Such Thing
Unfortunately, there is no native QlikView map object. We can use a free extension or add a background map tile to a scatter plot. There are several drawbacks to both approaches. The big problem is that when we use these approaches for a client, it is difficult or impossible to Say “Yes” to the next feature request. Because the solutions are either workarounds or developed on the free community, you are limited in the things you can do.
QlikView Maps Using Free Extensions
- Very basic on what is displayed
- As-Is and offer no outside support
- May not work with updated or newer versions of QlikView
- Limited documentation on how to use the extension
QlikView Maps Using Scatter Charts
- Long development time
- Ad hoc method for generating maps
- In depth knowledge (or reverse engineering skills) to create the math that displays points and the map correctly aligned with each other.
- Understanding of how to use the Google API
- Commitment to change the code when the API changes.
Problem: Native Qlik Sense Maps – We do Have Something Basic
Creating a Qlik Sense Map is somewhat easier. Qlik Sense provides a basic way in which maps can be generated by giving the developer a map chart object. Here are the drawbacks to using the Qlik Sense map object.
Qlik Sense Maps Using the Native Map Object
- Only 2 basic map types available: point map or area map
- Understanding of KML data for area maps and adding this data to the data model
- Not customizable, what you see is what you get
Fortunately there is an answer. NPGeoMaps offers a rich suite of mapping solutions which creates a high-quality and versatile experience for your clients and users. It is also extremely efficient as NPGeoMaps cuts down development time dramatically for your clients.
We have been utilizing NPGeoMaps for a while now and will share with you some of the observations and results we have created with this tool.
One of my favorite features is that the package will work for both QlikView Maps and Qlik Sense Maps and the configuration for the extensions on the designer side are identical. That means your skills will transfer 100%.
What do NPGeoMaps look like?
Here are some examples to show you what the maps look like and some of the features you can utilize for you QlikView and Qlik Sense apps.
1. Point Maps
Visualize your sales or other metric by city or customer location by using Point Maps. The point size and color can be customized. Add a mouse-over or pop-up to give you the level of detail you need.
I really love the ability to add visual data to my maps in the form of pop-ups. They are fully customizable and can feature any QlikView or Qlik Sense visualization.
NPGeoMap gives the end-user the ability to view and make selections based on data that falls within a particular radius. This is a valuable feature for determining route or sales territories.
2. Boundary or Area Maps
You can easily create deep, rich QlikView maps and Qlik Sense maps without the need of bringing added data into your data model. With NPGeoMap the need for KML data is eliminated. The data is included in the NPGeoMap installation and then referenced as needed from the extension. Twelve popular shape files are installed with the extension with the option to pick from over 400 more. Uncomment the boundary map you wish to use in the extension properties panel, input your dimension and metric and you are done. As with the Point Map example, customizable mouse overs and popups can be created in any of the map types.
3. Combine Point and Boundary Maps into a Single Map
This is where we step way out of the box with what you can do in a free solution. NPGeoMap allows the user to combine a point map and a boundary map into a single dashboard object. With this feature you can leverage two separate dimensions and/or multiple measures in a single map visualization.
4. Heat Maps
Have you even wanted to know where your highest concentration of customers or sales are? By creating a heat map in NPGeoMaps your data is fully visualized. The coloring, intensity and opacity is easily customizable and the answers are right at your fingertips.
5. Cluster Maps
Cluster Maps give the ability to dynamically aggregate your dimension into centered groups or clusters. This solves a severe limitation on using workarounds or free extensions. Anybody who has worked with these methods knows that as we bridge 100,000 distinct pieces of data, things start slowing down and create a negative user experience. Having the ability to dynamically create these groups, especially as selections are added or removed solves this issue. Besides the performance problem, users will appreciate that we are displaying data in a way that makes sense, rather than showing a huge blob of green dots as I have seen in some of the free techniques I used to create.
Here is a drilled in example. As we zoom in, the detail of the data points increases. In other words, the aggregation is scaled to a higher level of detail so that users get value at every zoom level.
How To Configure the NPGeoMap Extension
Everything you need to create a dynamic and robust QlikView or Qlik Sense map is contained in the NPGeoMap extension. There is a small learning curve as you begin to understand the huge variety of options available, but the only coding you will need is basic understanding of writing the expression for the metric, like sum(Sales) for example.
A neat feature is that in the standard copy/paste script module, you can decide what features you want to have in the extension and which ones you do not by commenting or uncommenting the lines.
Creating a Qlik Sense map is done the same way as you would create QlikView map. This removes the need to have to learn two separate methodologies in creating a wide variety of vibrant maps in your dashboard.
One of the headaches of building maps without a premium package is that you have to come up with latitude and longitude data for your dimension. NPGeoMap comes with a list of over 600,000 Postal Codes, ISO2, and ISO3 country codes in Excel format. Each with their corresponding longitudes and latitudes giving you the power to associate geopoints in your data in minutes.
Bringing it All Together
Being a QlikView and Qlik Sense developer, I have experience creating QlikView maps using free extensions and scatter charts. They have a tendancy to be very cumbersome, require long development time, and never really provide the level of customization, features, and design elements I am looking for. Clients sometimes want to change something within a map or how a map is represented. This requires me as a developer to either look for a different free extension, or spend hours in development making changes to the script or scatter chart. And as we know, that time is not free.
While Qlik Sense maps are easier to develop, the level of customization and the limited number of map types leave me with a feeling of wanting more.
NPGeoMap brings it all together in one solid and easy to use product. We remove the need for countless hours of development time and frustration that can come from using an ad hoc method of generating QlikView maps. And we get the benefit of having richly featured and highly variable maps. I can fully customize my QlikView and Qlik Sense maps in a matter of minutes. I can make changes to maps quickly and efficiently.
If you are interested in exploring more about NPGeoMap please visit my Go To Qlik Partner Visual Data Group: More on NPGeoMap.
I admit I haven’t spent much time with the other Qlik mapping solutions that are out there so I am pretty wide-eyed with NPGeoMap. I welcome your feedback on this and the other solutions.