Qlik Sense free dataviz app adds public, private sharing

Qlik Sense Desktop

Qlik Sense Desktop sample analysis

Credit: Screenshot by Sharon Machlis of Qlik software

The market for free data visualization applications is getting increasingly crowded, but many of these options are either cloud-based or, in the case of Tableau Public, desktop that nevertheless requires even your private data to be uploaded to their servers. That's great if you're working on a project you want to share with the world (or wouldn't mind too much if the world stumbled upon it one day); but a non-starter for sensitive enterprise data.

The free Qlik Sense Desktop application (64-bit Windows only) is one exception, allowing you to create interactive data visualizations from data you keep on your own system. That's useful if you want to get insights from your own data, but less so if you want to share your work with others in your company.

Sharing Qlik Sense projects within a company used to require either a paid Qlik Sense server product or saving and emailing files to other users who also had Qlik Sense Desktop installed -- the latter being somewhat unlikely for data professionals sending reports to business executives. Now, though, the company is moving into the free collaboration space with general availability of Qlik Cloud, allowing private sharing with up to 5 other users who don't need Qlik Sense installed.

Later this quarter, Qlik plans to add visualization-creation capabilities in the cloud, which will also open up the tool to users on OS X, iOS and other non-Windows operating systems. In addition, charts that can be embedded on public websites are due to be added later this year.

Qlik Sense has been on my need-to-try list for awhile, and I finally downloaded the app on my Windows system at home and took it for a spin. While there's a learning curve to get the most out of the software, it didn't take me too long to figure out how to to basic graphics I could filter by various factors. You can drag and drop data files into the application to import data, choose from a number of different visualization options and then drag and drop dimensions (categories of things you want to measure) and measures (your actual values). The app also lets you create "stories" from your visualizations that are aimed at filling a similar niche to PowerPoint presentations.

I hope to check out Qlik Sense more in depth once Qlik Sense Charts, offering embeddable public visualizations, are available later this year.

For lots more on free dataviz, see my chart of 30+ free tools for data visualization and analysis.

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