Qlik to add R, Python support

Qlik will be adding R and Python integration to its data analysis tool later this month, continuing a BI trend that uses scripting languages to bulk up the power of drag-and-drop platforms.

While Qlik already supports some statistical functions, it is difficult for any platform designed for ease of use to match the power of R and its 9,000+ packages or Python with Pandas and SciPy. However, as data science has become increasingly important within many organizations, there are more power users sharing software with business end users. "We built this because people have asked for it," CTO Anthony Deighton said in an interview.

The announcement comes on the heels of Microsoft adding the ability to run R scripts within its Power BI desktop software's Query Editor. Tableau, another player in this space, has R integration via a package called Rserve.

With its version 3.1 release, Qlik engine will be able to pass data in and out of both R and Python, including analysis context about a data set. For example, a user could call R to do a regression or forecast model on revenues by country, and then interactively decide to re-run the model while excluding a couple of data points while viewing a visual in Qlik. "You're not doing an export and then bringing it into Qlik," Deighton said. "R is treated as a first-class citizen in the data-analysis experience," leading to easier, interactive what-if scenarios.

The R and Python functionality will be available for Qlik's desktop and server software, both Qlik Sense and QlikView, although not immediately for the cloud service.

Qlik will also be updating its technology for creating associations between different data sources, such as adding the ability to automatically detect geography, he said.

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