Tuesday 16 December 2014

Sway to the Qlik

Microsoft have made their new Sway service generally available on "Preview".

So, what is this Sway?  Really, it is about telling stories - without having to know anything about design or building websites, you can upload some images, type in some text, and publish your story.  Your story is then viewable by any user, on device, in a responsive manner.

For example, witness the rather amusing antics of Flat Tony.

You can have your story go horizontally, or you can have it go vertically.  You can easily arrange things if you don't like the way the system presents them.  More ways of arranging things will be coming on stream quite soon.

Why might this be of interest to a Data Viz professional?  Because stories are what we tell - stories about data.

One of the features of Qlik Sense that most interested me was Stories.  One of the features of Qlik Sense that most disappointed me was ... Stories.  The concept is brilliant - easily snapshot images of my charts and then embed them in a story along with annotations to explain what is happening.  The problem is that I can only share these with other users of Qlik Sense - I can't export them to any other format or push them out on a website to non Qlik Sense users.

There is a logic to these restrictions.  The features of being able to view the charts "live" from within a story would not be available to external users.  OK, that can be an important thing, but is that the most important thing?

Here is something that I built in about 10 minutes using Sway (it may look familiar!):

Food Corp Sales Analysis 2014

It isn't earth shattering, but it wasn't several days of effort either.  I used the Windows Snipping tool to grab the images (apparently I can use APIs to get snapshots too), and just added the text.

The big deal about this link is that you can view it - and you can view it on any device.  And you don't need to have a Qlik Sense license.

I am sure that we will see Qlik Sense Stories evolving over time - this is definitely a direction that I would like to see them going.

Stephen Redmond is author of Mastering QlikView, QlikView Server and Publisher and the QlikView for Developer's Cookbook
He is CTO of CapricornVentis a Qlik Elite Partner.
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