The demise of Crystal Dashboard has spurred us to look at alternative visualisation tools that are suitable for creating easy to use dashboards. First off, there are appear to be an infinite number of alternatives!

After weighing up the pros and cons of various products, we’re now focussing on Metabase. In their own words:

Metabase is the easy, open source way for everyone in your company to ask questions and learn from data.

As it’s Open Source, there are no licence fees, so you can use throughout your organisation without worrying about purchasing or managing licences. It can be deployed in a multitude of ways: we’re currently running on Windows Server 2016 and Ubuntu Linux, but you can just as easily use Docker, AWS Elastic Beanstalk or Heroku. If you don’t know what any of that means don’t worry, we’re here to help. More importantly, you’re getting the choice of running on your own server or in the cloud, rather than being forced into an expensive monthly licence. Our test server is costing about ¬£10 per month on Microsoft Azure!

Metabase doesn’t give you the what-if analysis of Crystal Dashboard. Instead, the focus is on exploring and interacting with your data.

You start of by asking questions of your data:

Two clicks later, you have a simple table of product sales by category:

One more click to view as a pie chart:

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that hovering over the chart provides more details. The pie chart is ‘live’ running from our test server. Embedding ‘questions’ is simply a case of turning on sharing and copying a url.

Next we can create a Dashboard containing multiple questions. The dashboard below is ‘live’ and there’s even a filter so you can see sales by individual or groups of states (go ahead and click the State button to the top right!). If you’re using Internet Explorer, now would be a good time to use a different browser.

All the examples above have been embedded using a simple Iframe. We’ll be showing alternative, more powerful ways to share visualisations in future posts. In the meantime, more information about Metabase here.

If you want more information or to see how Metabase could help you visualise and analyse your data, please contact us using the form below.

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