Qlik Sense Generic Object I: General

Getting data out of a Qlik Sense app is based on a concept called Generic Object. Behind all charts, tables and listboxes in Qlik Sense lies a generic object. Also behind many of the other things you see in the Qlik Sense client lies generic objects:

  • the selection toolbar
  • the panel on the left side of the page, with lists of dimensions, measures and master objects
  • the sheet is a generic object

The purpose of the Generic Object is to make it easier to make client-side changes without having to change the QIX engine. Since the Generic Object is very flexible, many client side changes do not require any changes to the engine.  This is in contrast to how it works in QlikView, where all charts have different server-side implementations and client and server code are tightly coupled. This is also a reason why extensions are so powerful in Qlik Sense: to the QIX engine there is really no difference between built-in visualizations and extensions, they are all represented with a Generic Object.

Properties and layout

When you create a Generic Object you define its properties. This is a JSON structure, which you can define yourself. An example (from the peoplechart extension example):

There are two kind of properties:

  • user defined. Qlik only persists those and include them as-is in the layout, it is up to your code to use them for something
  • defined by Qlik Engine. These are validated by the Engine, and replaced in Engine output, the layout, by the calculated counterparts.

All properties defined by Engine start with a q, so it is good programming practice to let your own properties start with some other letter. The properties defined by Engine are documented here and the corresponding out data is documented here. Note that properties defined by the Qlik Sense client(like title etc) do NOT start with a q, the QIX engine does not really know what these are used for.

But the parameters known by the QIX Engine will determine the engines calculation. In the output from engine, called layout (though it’s not really the layout of a Generic Object) the definition of those properties will be replaced by the results. A hypercube definition (qHyperCubeDef) will be replaced by a actual hypercube (qHyperCube) containing the results from the calculation.

Generic Object context

Generic objects are everywhere in Qlik Sense. If you are building an extension, you define your Generic Object structure in the initialProperties property. If you are using the mashup API, you create generic objects with the createGenericObject method or one of the wrappers around it (createCube, createList, getList). In both these cases the Qlik Sense client framework will automatically refresh the Generic object with new data when it is invalidated (by for example new selections). If you are working directly on the protocol level, you need to fetch they new data yourself.

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