23 March 2023

Basics of Alternate States in Qlik Sense

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Qlik Sense Alternate States basics

Every Friday at Bitmetric weā€™re posting a new Qlik certification practice question to our LinkedIn company page. Last Friday we asked the following Qlik Data Architect certification practice question about creating an Alternate State in Qlik Sense.

Qlik Sense question about creating Alternate States

We tried to make the wrong answers look plausible, but fooled nobody:

The correct answer is D

Alternate states are created in the Master Items section of the sheet editor. Let’s have a closer look at what Alternate States are, and how we can create and apply them in our Qlik Sense apps.

What are Alternate States?

By default, user selections in Qlik Sense are stored in the default selection state, which is referred to by the $ symbol. See our earlier article on Qlik Set Identifiers for some more in-depth info on this. Alternate States, introduced way back in QlikView 11, is a functionality that lets you create additional selection states besides the default selection state. This means you’re able to show two (or more) different sets of selections in a single view.

Why are Alternate States useful?

With Alternate States, you can perform comparative analysis. Without Alternate States, you’d have to switch back and forth between two different selections in order to compare them. This isn’t very user-friendly. With Alternate States, you can show the results of two (or more) selections in a single view – which makes it much easier to compare them.

Consider the example below, comparing sales for Audi in Finland with BMW sales in The Netherlands:

Comparative analysis in Qlik Sense with Alternate States.

How to create Alternate States

Creating a new Alternate State in Qlik Sense

Alternate States are created by going to Master Items, selecting Alternate states and clicking the Create new button. Next, you are asked to provide a name for the new state. Some things to keep in mind here are:

  • Don’t use $ or 1 as a state name. These refer to the default selections and all selections.
  • Don’t use a state name starting with $ or $_ followed by a number. These refer to previous and next selections.
  • Don’t use a state name that’s already used as a bookmark name.
  • It’s a matter of taste, but at Bitmetric we avoid spaces in state names. So StateA instead of [State A]. Set Analysis is already complex enough without adding extra square brackets šŸ˜‰

Applying Alternate States

Applying an alternate state to a sheet in Qlik Sense.

Alternate States can be applied at different levels within a Qlik Sense application:

  • Sheet: all objects within the sheet will be placed in the selected alternate state, unless configured otherwise.

    The state can be selected under Sheet properties | Alternate states;
  • Object: all expressions within the object will be place in the selected alternate state, unless configured otherwise. For objects that contain other objects, for example the container object, all nested objects will also be placed in the selected state, unless configured otherwise.

    The state can be selected under the Object properties | Appearance | Alternate states

Alternate State inheritance

By default, if no state is explicitly selected, Qlik uses the <inherited> state. This means that the object inherits the state of its parent object or document. Unless an alternate state is selected, an object inherits its state from a sheet, which inherits its state from the entire document. If a sheet is placed in an alternate state, by default all of the objects in that worksheet (which are set to the Inherited state) will be placed into the same alternate state.

Another example is when objects are placed in a container, unless explicitly overridden at the object level these objects will inherit the state of the container. To override the inherited state, you can select a different alternate state from the  State drop-down menu.

Using Alternate States in expressions

We’ve now come to the part where we’re ready to apply Alternate States in our expressions. We’ll cover this subject in more depth in a future question and blog post. Stay tuned šŸ˜‰

That’s it for this week. See you next Friday?

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