Updated Comparison of Data Visualization tools

One of the most popular posts on this blog was a comparison of Data Visualization Tools, which originally was posted more then a year ago where I compared those best tools only qualitatively. However since then I got a lot of requests to compare those tools “quantitatively”. Justification for such update were recent releases of Spotfire 4.0, Qlikview 11, Tableau 7.0 and Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Stack (mostly SQL Server 2012 and PowerPivot V.2.)

However I quickly realized that such “quantitative” comparison cannot be objective. So here it is – the updated and very subjective comparison of best Data Visualization tools, as I see them at the end of 2011. I know that many people will disagree with my assessment, so if you do not like my personal opinion – please disregard it at “your own peril”. I am not going to prove “numbers” below – they are just my personal assessments of those 4 technologies – I love all 4 of them. Feel free to make your own comparison and if you can share it with me – I will appreciate it very much.

Please keep in mind that I reserve the right to modify this comparison overtime if/when I will learn more about all those technologies, their vendors and usage. Criterias used in comparison below listed in 1st column and they are grouped in 3 groups: business, visualization and technical. Columns 2-5 used for my assessments of 4 technologies, last column used for my subjective weights for each criteria and last row of this worksheet has Total for each Data Visualization technology I evaluated.

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4 thoughts on “Updated Comparison of Data Visualization tools

  1. Hi Andrei,

    From developer perspective I’ve always get this steps in most BI projects:
    1. Prototyping of feature report/dashboard
    2. Data fetching for the rep/dash (olap/table/file sources) and aligning
    3. Data pre-UI calculations (when you need to calculate any behavior/color/distinguish in received data or change the logic based on filters selections etc.)
    4. UI possibilities for rep/dash visualizations (ability to do any dynamic selections, include charts in table and vise versa, ability to freely change any type/part of UI object like font/color/type etc.)
    5. Abilities to export data and/or charts/tables for any additional presentation or sharing purposes.
    6. Easy maintain of new requirements implementations, same as creation of current rep/dash documentation against implemented logic.
    7. Reuse the created rep/dash for new – using it as source of data and objects as building blocks.

    And I cant tell when can we find all this in easy of use solution :).

    Any strong side have weakness from the other side:
    1. IBM Cognos/Oracle has all – except pricing
    2. Tableu/QlikView – have many of UI and lack of metadata/parts reuse
    3. Microsoft – many in API – not so in UI
    4. From technology part – I even dont know how to compare – so big gap in pricing/scalability options between the products…

    So there are no silver bullet in BI Space, amount of workarounds are always overwhelming.

    Thanks for your Comparison – it feeds a lot of my thoughts!

    • Hello Andrii:

      on your last 4 points I have the following comments/opinions:

      1. IBM Cognos/Oracle: in addition to ridiculous prices they are 1 or 2 generations behind in terms of Data Visualization, so I did not include them into comparison.

      2. I suggest to spend more time learning about Tableau and Qlikview: you will see that they are very easy to use, excellent and fast for prototyping, data fetching, pre-UI calculations, leaders in UI for Data Visualization, good at exporting data, their applications easy to maintain and reuse.

      3. Microsoft so far cares more about their lucrative Office and SQL Server businesses and they do not care too much (yet) about Data Visualization market.

      4. Technological Comparison is possible (see mine above) only if you are willing to accept that it will be a very subjective. But this is known for almost 2500 years, way before computers and software were invented: Protagoras famously said that “man is the measure of all things”, see it here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protagoras

  2. Hi Andrei,

    Again a very interesting article, great comparison.

    Given microsofts SSIS I wondered why microsoft scores lower on data integration than tableau. Next to this I would think tableau is better in modeling and analytics than qlikview. Could you give some clarification? I know three of these tools except spotfire and I agree on everything except those 2 things.

    Best Regards

    • 1. Data Integration: Tableau has more diversified and wider support for data sources, including Aster Data nCluster, ParAccel, Sybase IQ, Vertica and others.

      2. Analytics: I actually agree with your assessment and I updated estimates accordingly, Still Spotfire is far ahead of everybody in this department.

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