Sunday 29 November 2020

Making Sense of Themes

Episode 14 of the Qlik Virtual Meetup Scotland (QVMS) had some very interesting speakers. Old friend and fellow Luminary, Barry Harmsen, from Bitmetric, was talking about his site, so I thought that I might delve a little into the idea of themes and explain why I think it might be a good idea for you to explore them.

For some historical context, the idea of Themes is not new to Qlik. Anyone who has used QlikView will know to what level of detail you can specify colours, various fonts, borders, shadows, etc. on various objects and then use the Theme Maker function to export those settings into an XLM file for use in other documents.

When Qlik Sense was first released in 2014, it didn't have too much in the way of ability to change things. You got the plain white background and the default set of fonts. You could change the odd colour, but not much else.

The Qlik Sense "Classic" theme

Many folks grumbled at this and Qlik listened. Starting from Qlik Sense (on-premise) February 2018 release, custom themes could be used to style an app. This feature has subsequently been rolled out on SaaS offerings.

Out of box on the current version of Qlik Sense Business, there are four themes available. Sense Focus is the default, but you can also choose Sense Breeze, Sense Horizon, or the "Classic".

Sense Focus - the default theme

Sense Breeze theme
Sense Horizon theme

A theme is simply a JSON file with a collection of settings. If you are comfortable working in JSON and with CSS properties, then a good place to start is the Getting started building custom themes page in the Qlik documentation. If you are less comfortable, then Bitmetric's Sense Theme tool is another excellent choice.

For free, you can download a load of different examples, from Classic QlikView to Tableau! Also for free, with some limitations, you can create your own theme file and use their friendly UI to help you setup the colours.

For a small monthly fee, you can unlock more features and get rid of those pesky pop-up ads. I can see many businesses taking this option as they will want to apply individual theme elements to their Qlik Sense applications, and this will become a valuable tool for their designers to work with.

Time to dive into themes?

As well as holding a Master's Degree in Data Analytics, Stephen Redmond is a practicing Data Professional of over 20 years experience. He is author of Mastering QlikViewQlikView for Developer's Cookbook and QlikView Server and Publisher.