Robot in the Cloud: Automatic File Upload to Qlik Sense Cloud

In my previous post about my company’s migration to Qlik Sense Cloud Business, I described my frustration about having to manually upload data to my company’s workspace. I also expressed my belief that Qlik Sense Cloud would grow as fast as Qlik could develop data connectors for it.  In his comment to the post, I think Aaron Couron summarized this sentiment well.

“I have to extract the data manually from the database into a file (qvd or otherwise) and put it up on the cloud. I guess that is an issue with any cloud vendor where I have on-premise data to feed it, but because BI, in general, relies so heavily on these kinds of resources, it becomes the “Elephant in the Room”.”

At some point, Qlik looks prepared to make this elephant disappear by adding the myriad connectors it acquired from Industrial CodeBox. Since December 2016, you can extract data directly from Salesforce and just last week Michael Tarallo posted a quick preview of the soon-to-be-released REST connector in Qlik Community.  He also purposed a neat way to upload text files from Dropbox through it.

In the meantime, I’ve created a temporary solution to automatically upload data files using a robot. I finished it two weeks ago and it has run well 80% of the time. Barry Harmsen experimented with using a robot in Qlik Sense Cloud to invite users in November 2015. In a comment to the previous post, he shared his experience and remarked about the hassle it was to maintain the robot given how often Qlik Sense Cloud changed its UI flow and even the names of its UI elements. A year and a half later, I assume there are less drastic changes. Over the last 2 weeks, the few issues I’ve had were because my script was in need of some fine tuning and were not due to any change in Qlik Sense Cloud.  Regardless, I’ll keep you up to date on the feasibility of using a robot while we wait for a more permanent solution.

Of course, the permanent solution is using a data connector to automatically refresh data directly in Qlik Sense Cloud. I recommend that you stayed informed about Qlik Sense Cloud updates, and that you swap the robot for a connector when the one you need becomes available.  While we wait, I will do my best to keep the core script that I share in this post up to date in GitHub, and I will also show you how to maintain it yourself.

The steps we are going to take to create the robot are the following.

  1. Set up Selenium Webdriver
  2. Set up AutoIT
  3. Configure the AutoIT and Selenium code to your environment
  4. Create and schedule a Windows Task

Before last week, I had never heard of Selenium or AutoIT, so you don’t need to have any previous experience to go through these steps. It took me about 8 hours to get everything up and running including the time I invested in researching which tools to use and creating the script from scratch. I hope that people can be up and running in less than 4 hours with the help of this guide.

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Qlik Sense Cloud – Finally Getting Down to Business

Last week I accidentally published this post before going to bed and woke up the next morning with a nice surprise that people had visited the post when it was still supposed to be a draft. I apologize for this leak and plan to catch those brain cells responsible for wasting your time.

As a small business owner, I am a big fan of cloud software.  At this point, I almost have more tabs pinned in my browser than I have shortcuts on my dock.  For example, you can find my project management tool (Jira), my knowledge management tool (Confluence), my file management tool (Dropbox), and my team communication tool (Slack) pinned at the top of my browser. As such, I’m excited to see Qlik Sense Cloud approaching the critical moment when it will be a veritable competitor of Qlik Sense on-premise.

Over the past two years, I’ve kept an eye on Qlik Sense Cloud. Qlik employee Michael Tarallo sums up these years and what the future may hold in his blog post Keep Your Head in the Clouds.  Well-known Qlik enthusiasts Stephen Redmond (Low down On Qlik Cloud 2.0) and Steve Dark (Qlik Sense Cloud New FeaturesQlik Sense Cloud Plus Is Here) have also shared the milestones it has reached in their blogs.

According to Michael’s post, Qlik Sense Cloud has almost 100,000 users in 170 countries, but I think it would be fair to ask him how many of those users use Qlik Sense Cloud on regular basis. It may be true that they are active users, but if I were to make a bet, I would wager that many of them acted as I had over the past two years.  They created an account, played around for an hour, and only returned when there was an announcement to see what was new. Even though 100,000 users may not be an accurate measure of Qlik Sense Cloud usage, the measure does speak for the initial interest many have had in what it offers. It also represents an opportunity for Qlik to convert them into paying customers once Qlik Sense Cloud adds more features and matures.

Released in December 2016, Qlik Sense Cloud Business is Qlik’s first serious attempt to provide a cloud service for businesses. In all fairness, there are a few kinks that need to be worked out and a few features that need to be added before I would consider it ready for most users. However, my overall opinion is that it’s a great start, and as an early adopter, it finally convinced me to use it internally in my company.

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