Industry

Vizzly vs Open-Source Chart Libraries

January 22, 2024

One question we get asked from time to time:

What is the additive value of Vizzly versus an open-source chart library?

It’s a fair question; open-source software is so prevalent in the data world. Particularly when it comes to data visualization. You have libraries such as: Charts JS, Apex Charts, Recharts, D3 etc., this list goes on and on.

Because the list is extensive, the bar is high, and Vizzly has had to go above and beyond to deliver genuine customer and user value. In this post, we’ll explore why our customers choose us for customer-facing analytics instead of building in-house using open-source chart libraries.

1. Time to value

A part of recognising Vizzly’s time-to-value, is recognising that a dashboard is much more than a set of charts on a web page. Even for the most basic of dashboards, there is a lot to build:

  • Coding the API layer to connect your database
  • Building user auth for your multi-tenant environment
  • Wrestling with your chosen chart library (painful)
  • Incorporating filters for basic dashboard interactivity
  • Allowing for data download in one or more formats
  • Optimising backend and frontend performance
  • Updating your API layer every time a user wants a new cut of data

This list gets much longer should you want anything more than a basic dashboard. A customer-facing dashboard or analytics capability is a product in its own right; if not careful, the build process could consume several months, distracting from core platform activity.

One thing we’ve learned building Vizzly is that data visualization is an incredibly nuanced space. Yes, you need control over the UI/UX, but you also need to iterate quickly as you assess and react to customer demands.

As a modern SaaS company, a significant indicator of product success is the rate of feature delivery, and open-source libraries can be a potential bottleneck for speed.

With Vizzly's end-to-end solution, you'll be up an running with a MVP in a matter of hours.

2. Value beyond the basics

Once you have your first Vizzly dashboard in place, there are a variety of out-of-the-box features and functionalities you can leverage to enrich your analytics experience.

Some of you may need these straight from the word go; for others, these will come in handy down the line.

  • Scheduled reporting; send data anywhere via a webhook response
  • Programmatic filters: pre-set filters to improve render speed
  • Cascading filters: never let a user select conflicting filters
  • Callback Functions for customer-user interactions (e.g. drill downs)
  • Custom Reporting: let users edit Views or build their own Views

Yes, outsourcing your customer-facing dashboard gives you an opportunity to assess market appetite quickly, but when you select Vizzly, you’ll have advanced capabilities and a huge degree of product extensibility should you want to evolve your analytics play

3. Product extensibility

At Vizzly, we consistently stress the significance of maintaining control over your UI/UX. While it's true that open-source chart libraries can provide extensive control over intricate design elements, Vizzly, in turn, offers a substantial level of flexibility. This often alleviates concerns about losing control over the product experience.

We achieve this by providing a solution that can be easily extended with code while simultaneously ensuring a swift time-to-value. How do we do this?

  • Native React or HTML components available.
  • Pass CSS objects to the Vizzly dashboard via API.
  • Override components, including: drop downs, data pickers, icons, and modals.
  • Use callback functions to trigger existing in-app logic.

And if you’re working with super niche data visualisations, say no more. Soon, we’ll be rolling out a Plugin API so you can inject custom visualisations into the dashboard.

As a side note, I'd like to throw in the argument that too much control isn't always a good thing. Often, you want to be abstracted away from the complexity involved in building software. Our aim is to abstract the boring stuff and let you have fun with the aspects that make your SaaS unique.

4. Performance & Security

When building your customer-facing dashboard, there are some things you cannot compromise, one of which is data security, and another is dashboard render time. This might sound like an argument for open-source and building in-house, but it’s actually a reason why Vizzly makes sense to those who care about these two topics.

For example, Vizzly comes with:

  • A self-hosted query engine option for connecting to your database
  • A dockerized approach for simple and easy deployment
  • SDKs for row-level permissions and authentication

For those considering connecting via API, we do offer an in-browser query engine too, so you can load the data client-side. In either case, your data is safe with you.

Let's be honest; when it comes to software platforms looking to create a customer-facing dashboard, they all share a common desire for a backend solution that's secure, high-performing, and easy to implement. Opting for an open-source chart library means rebuilding all these elements yourself.

Conclusion

Whether your goal is to swiftly launch an MVP or develop a highly functional customer-facing dashboard, it's challenging to argue in favor of open-source chart libraries. While our perspective may carry a hint of bias, as a company dedicated to assisting SaaS companies in building top-tier customer-facing analytics solutions, you can rest assured that you're in good hands with Vizzly.

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