“Art” in QlikView, now in color!

By Barry Harmsen

Mona Lisa in QlikView - Oh no the horror, it's only black and white!!!! Save us MicroStrategy!!!!! ;)I came across this post on the MicroStrategy Community tonight. It mentions a few of the Qlik and Tableau visualizations of famous paintings that floated around a few years ago. The images that were used back then, an example shown on the right, were black and white. Robert, the author of the MicroStrategy article, concludes that black and white is boring, and that it would be much better if the pictures were in color.

MicroStrategy to the rescue! Robert writes that as of version 10, you are able to do colored visualizations in MicroStrategy. He then goes on to demonstrate a few visualizations in color! Take that QlikView and Tableau!

Overwhelmed by this spectacle of colors, I was already considering dropping my career in QlikView and moving into MicroStrategy when a thought popped into my head. Could it be that the author was mistaking the limitations of the data set (which only contained black & white values) for limitations of the tools? Perhaps QlikView (and Tableau) could also visualize pictures in color?

As Robert challenged us to create a colored visualization, I decided to put QlikView to the test. After an intense 15 minutes (of which 12 were used to Google Spongebob images) I came up with this visualization, an original artwork by me titled “Yes we can” 😉

Colors in QlikView? No problem!

Turns out QlikView can do colored visualizations fine, who would’ve thought? (spoiler: everyone except Robert) For those that want to play around with the chart and data, you can download it below.
Download the Spongebob QVW -and- source data


A counter challenge

So to Robert a counter challenge; see if you can do any of this in MicroStrategy. Looking forward to your next article.


PS. Note that I do not make a habit out of badmouthing other BI solutions. MicroStrategy is actually a very nice solution that I’ve had good experiences with in the past. It is only the author of the article that I am criticizing. I would’ve done that on his own blog, but unfortunately there is no way to comment there without getting errors.

PS2. Ok, one more:

Female canine, thou hath been served! ;)

PS3. Got a few requests to share my code for creating these CSV’s. Basically I first convert the image to an HTML table, then load that into Excel and write the X, Y and color values to a CSV using a macro. (Yes, I know it’s quick & dirty). Please see the sources attached below. Note that there is absolutely no support on any of this.

Download the sources

About The Author

Barry Harmsen

Hi there, I'm Barry and I'm a Business Intelligence Consultant at Bitmetric and based in the Netherlands. Originally from a background of 'traditional' Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence and Performance Management, for the past 10 years I have been specializing in Qlik and a more user-centric form of BI. I have done numerous QlikView and Qlik Sense implementations in many different roles and industries. In 2012 I co-authored the book QlikView 11 for Developers. You can follow me on Twitter at @meneerharmsen.


  • 1
    June 12, 2015 - 04:25 | Permalink

    Hi Barry,

    Another great article !!

  • 2
    June 12, 2015 - 04:44 | Permalink

    You failed to point out the coolest part. If one had the colour data for the points the QlikView would have no problem colouring each dot to make a colour image.

    • 3
      June 12, 2015 - 07:45 | Permalink

      Hi Josh, please explain, isn’t that what I’ve just shown? Or is there something I’ve missed? Thanks, Barry

      • 4
        Josh Good
        June 12, 2015 - 18:22 | Permalink

        I stand corrected. The images you put up were so good, I though you were using the background images because I couldn’t see any dots like I could with the Mona Lisa image. I think that drive your point home even more!

  • 5
    June 14, 2015 - 10:12 | Permalink

    Hi Barry, that’s so cool!
    2 questions:
    1. What purpose these visualizations in charts could possibly fulfill in business?
    2. Where from you get the values for creating images? (the csv file)?


  • 11
    June 19, 2015 - 17:21 | Permalink

    Nice post.
    The power is not in colors …power of a dashboard lies in bringing data insights and focus.

  • 12
    July 14, 2015 - 20:44 | Permalink

    This is why we all love Barry! – Nice work my friend.

  • 13
    November 15, 2015 - 18:55 | Permalink

    Just been showing the Spongebob example to my children. They like it because it’s Spongebob, but with a couple of amends I was able to show them some basic maths, like how multiplying by -1 flips the image around. Also some basic QlikView, that by selecting numbers in a certain range on the X axis they get a vertical slice of the image.

    Thanks Barry, anything I can use to get the children interested in maths and visualisations is a very good thing!


  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Read previous post:
    Win a free QlikView course for only a minute of your time (really!)

    As you may have read here before, besides blogging at QlikFix I also participate in the Q-On Training Center. Q-On...