Friday, November 18, 2016

MonthsBetween Function

A few days ago I needed a calculation in a loadscript that would provide the number of months between two dates. This kind of calculation comes up sometimes with supply chain planning data when the difference between the month a sales forecast is developed and the month that the sales forecast is meant to be applied, sometimes called a monthly lag, can be used to help measure forecast accuracy. QlikView provides a number of date functions but not one that can calculate the number of months between two dates.

I decided to make my own MonthsBetween date function using a document variable with input arguments. A variable like that can be used like a user defined function. I created a variable in the QlikView document and named it MonthsBetween. This is what I typed for the content of the variable (you, of course, can copy and paste from this blog post):
((Year($2)*12 + Month($2)) - (Year($1)*12 + Month($1)))

The $1 and $2 get replaced by two input arguments (which some people might call parameters) when the variable is used. The arguments must be dates. My loadscript (I was loading data from an Oracle database table) looked something like this:

Select * from BUDGET_HIST_TABLE;

For example, if the CREATE_DATE is 1-APRIL-2016 and the APPLY_DATE is 1-JULY-2016 then MONTH_LAG is 3. If the second date is later than the first date then the result will be a positive integer number of months. If the two dates are from the same month then the result is a zero. For my data, the APPLY_DATE is always later than or equal to the CREATE_DATE so MONTH_LAG is always 0 or greater. If CREATE_DATE was later than APPLY_DATE then MONTH_LAG would be a negative number.

The calculation is nothing special -- it must have been re-created thousands of times. But, putting it into a variable makes the calculation easy to use in many places and easy to share. Test it out in a chart expression or advanced search expression

When a variable contains expression code like that and the variable might be used as part of a larger expression in a chart, then it is a good idea to enclose the entire variable contents within parentheses as I did above. It helps prevent QlikView from processing the operators in the larger expression in the wrong order.