What a beautiful week we had in Orlando, Florida it was. Hot weather combined with the annual pinnacle of Qlik geekiness and delivered one of the best weeks for the Vizlib team this year.
Rather than repeating what Qlik announced during Qonnections 2017, I thought I would summarize the event from a more personal Vizlib point of view. There are plenty of blogs which capture all technical subjects presented by Qlik; in case you're interested in what's new in Qlik's next version of Sense, this might not be the right blog post for you.
Qlik organizes a conference every year called Qonnections. It usually takes place in the US and it invites fans, developers, customers, partners and Qlik employees to attend, present, converse on the latest topics of Qlik. This year it was hosted at a massive convention hotel/center called Gaylord Palms near Orlando nearby to some of the most world-famous theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios. Gaylord Palms is a big complex with multiple restaurants, two large pools and a massive air conditioned indoor area which also had alligators swimming around (image below).
As always, Qlik's presentations were scripted, well practiced with a light touch of Hollywood sensationalism. If you're new to Qlik or Qonnections, this type of events might impress you but for us, the seasoned developers, it was more of a show rather than interesting insights. Same time lots of technical novelties were revealed which I will summarize a little bit further down in the blog.
Other vendors hold similar annual conferences (e.g. Tableau Conference 2017, Domo's Domopalooza 2017) and it's not uncommon these events to end up becoming a massive marketing expenditure for those companies.
Below you can see pictures of the Farewell party on the last evening of the convention, on Wednesday.
Qlik Hack Attack
One of many special sessions was the Qlik Hack Attack hosted by Qlik branch (More information here) which took place on Tuesday evening. In there, plenty of developers organized themselves into teams and presented in what they thought it was the best approach in solving UN's peacekeeping mission using data analytics on Qlik. This year, the attendees had two weeks to prepare, and accordingly, the apps they developed were truly impressive. Congratulations to Axis Group (@AxisGroup1) for winning the competition and to Ralf Becher (@irregularbi) and Websy (@WebsyIO).
Vizlib is glad to have sponsored this great event and to see many of the presentations having included our Vizlib extensions. The price for winning the best Vizlib integration went to team Slalom (@Slalom) for cleverly integrating the snail-trail feature of the Vizlib Scatter Chart to effectively demonstrate the change of actors over time.
We were genuinely impressed by Qlik Branch's initiative and honored to be featured in there. Same time, it was great to see that the hard work of the attendees was appropriately credited the next day on the main stage. What a great way to combine fun for a good cause!
Well done to all participants!
Vizlib Friends & Family
One of the big reasons to attend Qonnections is to get the chance to finally meet all your virtual friends in person. All the familiar faces behind the Twitter accounts, community accounts are attending the conference and it's truly interesting to chat to the people you have been interacting all along in various online conversations.
Vizlib hosted a Welcome Party on Monday evening which was very well attended. It was great finally meeting the likes of Julian, Speros, Karl, Henric, Matthieu, Christof, Oleg, Ingo, Dan, Joe, Dalton, Gysbert and many more in person
Branch VIP Party
Vizlib was also very honored to be invited to the Qlik Branch VIP party which took place on Monday evening too. Instead of doing the event directly at the busy venue, they decided to takes us about a 20min cab drive away to a quiet hat.
While we are SO sorry that arrived super late that evening, we had a fantastic time meeting all brancher's and the brains of the fabulous platform too. The Qlik Developer's relations team is a genuinely cool bunch of folks who are doing their best to make the Qlik API as developer-friendly and sexy as possible. Personally, Alexander Karlsson (@mindspank) already had me at wearing the same cool Stan Smith boost kicks as me.
It was fun having a beer and playing games with all other contributors, definitely a memorable evening.
I promised to keep the technical part of the blog light, so I will just summarize my personal take aways in a bullet point format:
QlikView is 2000 and late: There was limited news around QlikView and there was not even a silent mention of View at Qonnections 2017, with the exception of View & Sense sharing a unified platform in the future. is. To make the transition from QlikView to Qlik Sense as smoothly as possible, Vizlib helps by providing Qlik Sense extensions with all configurability and settings the users are used to from View.
Cloud is the future: As Vizlib is also targeting the Cloud model, this is not a personal surprise to us, and we could not agree more. Cloud is the future, but at the same time, how do you educate thousands of clients who bought Qlik as an on-premise solution to switch over? Thankfully Qlik is introducing an intermediate step called Hybrid cloud. Connect Cloud servers with your on-premise servers to a single platform. No idea what limitations this might bring, but this approach sounds very cool and definitely looks promising.
Bringing Qlik to its data : This is a very significant move. Qlik's issue has always been the fact that it has to load all information in-memory to be able to do some work. This not only challenges real-time analytics with the static reloads but also it becomes expensive as RAM needs to be provisioned for the Qlik platform. With much cheaper and open-source analytics solutions available, this raises the question if Qlik and the associative engine is required at all with its expensive licensing and the hardware intensive server requirements.
Qlik is doing something about it which is called Big Data Indexing and is actually introducing a method to live-query a data source/stream using its proprietary association engine.
Great move, let's see if they're going to be able to execute on this.
Qlik is becoming services intensive: The very original value proposition which made QlikView so successful was the fact that you had everything out of the box in a tool. QlikView basically allows you get up to speed with data analytics in no time without much help. Qlik Sense, and more so the QAP, is quite the opposite. Leaving QS's self-service aside, instead of days, now you need weeks for an acceptable analytics solution. Mandatory work with the many APIs has become resource- and time-intensive web development and this has become very evident at this year's Qonnections. LOTS of consultancies have emerged and attended this year's conference presenting their funky QAP solutions and extensions. While their work is admirable, it's not what made Qlik successful in the first place. Is this change of trends a good thing? Facts are that services are expensive, their margins are high, and budget for software and IT is becoming less and less. To me, the maths don't add up.
Vizlib is a product company which provides highly customizable, easy-to-use and supported extensions to the Qlik ecosystem. We attended Qonnections 2017 not only to make a name for ourselves but also to see how people react to what we have to offer and to see where Qlik's mind is in regards to its future release sand features. These are the key take-aways for Vizlib:
Picasso.js: Vizlib attended the session where Qlik's picasso.js was introduced. Picasso.js is a soon to be open-source library, which allows developers to quickly and easily create d3 based Qlik visualisations using a declarative approach. This is big news for Vizlib as this will greatly increase our speed of development for fantastic visualisations. Hopefully, there will not be many limitations. One interesting thing about picasso.js is that it is platform agnostic. This means you can create the same visualization code on every other data layer. I am really puzzled why Qlik would release their proprietary visualization library this way as open-source. What stops any other data analytics platform, e.g. Power BI, from taking the same visualization layer and applying it on top of their product? QS charts on Power BI/Tableau/Domo. Something to think about maybe.
Extensions are Qlik Sense's bread and butter: I did not manage to see one presentation or dashboard without the use of either a mashup or a Qlik Sense extension. There is simply no way around extensions which substantiates Vizlib's value proposition. Developing extensions is complex, takes time and is expensive. Vizlib takes those resource and time intensive exercises away from you for a fraction of the cost.
Interest for a Vizlib Market: There are many extensions out there developed by consultancies and very talented developers who do not necessarily want to publish their code open-source. On the other hand, consultancies want to focus on services and not on creating products. Creating products is a different business. They are naturally struggling to monetize their coding efforts repetitively and I had several interesting discussions with large players asking us whether we are interested in distributing their extension as well via a Vizlib Market. It is true that Qlik Cloud is working on a similar e-Commerce model on their cloud version too, but from what I understood in discussions, they do not intend to hide the IP from those extensions. Not sure this is a viable solution.
Qlik wants Vizlib to be successful: This was one of the biggest and most positive take-aways for us. From Qlik Branch to the Qlik Pre-Sales consultants, to the Qlik Cloud guys, to the CTO, everyone wants us to succeed and become a value-add to Qlik. It is a great feeling to have the support of the mother ship behind your back!
I hope reading the above summary was as exciting for you as it was for us attending Qonnections this year. Forgive me if I missed some important points, forget to mention anyone or you just disagree with me on some things. This blog post is probably one of many on the same topic hence I encourage you to browse the web to read others too to get the whole picture.
From Vizlib's perspective, it was a fantastic event and a huge success for everyone involved! Can't wait for the coming months as we finally aim to launch our platform.
Martin + Adam + David + Ralf