Open Source Data Visualization: 6 Reasons to Make the Switch

Katia Zhivaikina

In today's fast-paced, data-driven world, understanding and interpreting complex data is not just an advantage, but a necessity. Companies and organizations across all sectors rely heavily on data to inform their decision-making processes, and the ability to visualize this data effectively is crucial. Among the plethora of tools available to help with this, open-source data visualization tools stand out for their power, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth look at the concept of open-source data visualization and the compelling reasons to consider making the switch from proprietary software.

What is Open Source Data Visualization?

Data visualization software was designed to assist data analysts and other users when representing their data in a graphical or pictorial format, making complex data sets understandable, and meaningful patterns discernible at a glance. When we talk about these tools being open source, we are highlighting the fact that the underlying source code is freely available to the public. This allows users to modify, enhance, and distribute the software without any restrictions, offering a level of flexibility rarely matched by proprietary counterparts.

When we introduce business intelligence tools to the equation, we gain the ability to build interactive visualizations like charts, dashboards, and maps as well as data analytics to predict future trends and draw actionable insights.

The open-source model of software development has been praised for its role in driving innovation and collaboration. By allowing anyone with the necessary skills to access and alter the source code, it leads to continuous improvement and refinement, often resulting in software that is more reliable, secure, and tailored to users' needs.

6 Reasons to Choose Open-Source Data Visualization

When comparing open-source data visualization tools with their proprietary counterparts, six key advantages come to the fore: cost-effectiveness, flexibility, community support, security, future-proofing, and vendor lock-in

1. Cost Effectiveness

Undoubtedly, one of the most appealing aspects of open-source data visualization tools is their cost-effectiveness. Proprietary software typically comes with high costs, including licensing fees, update charges, and maintenance costs. In contrast, open-source software is freely available to use, modify, and distribute, making it a far more budget-friendly choice.

It's important to dispel a common misconception at this point: free does not equate to low quality. Open-source data visualization tools like Apache Superset, offer functionalities and capabilities that are on par with, or even surpass, those of commercial tools. They are often backed by strong communities of developers and are used by tech giants such as Netflix, Airbnb, and Twitter, attesting to their quality and robustness.

2. Flexibility and Customizability

The beauty of open source lies in its inherent flexibility and customizability. Proprietary software often presents a 'take it or leave it' situation – users have to adapt to the software as it is, with little to no room for customization. Open-source data visualization tools, however, provide users with the freedom to tailor the software to their specific needs.

Access to the source code means that users can tweak the functionality and performance of these tools as needed. This is a game-changer for organizations with unique data visualization needs, as it allows for the creation of custom-tailored solutions that align perfectly with their objectives.

Build beautiful charts and dashboards in cloud-hosted Apache Superset.

3. Community Support

Another significant advantage of open-source tools is the robust community support that accompanies them. Open-source projects are typically backed by a vibrant community of data scientists and developers who are passionate about the software and eager to help others.

Whether you're encountering a bug, seeking advice on how best to use the tool, or simply looking for tips and tricks from more experienced users, there's a high likelihood that someone in the community has faced a similar issue and can offer solutions. This collaborative problem-solving and knowledge-sharing nature of open-source communities is a powerful resource that's hard to match with proprietary software.

4. Enhanced Security

Despite what one might initially think, open-source data visualization tools can offer enhanced security compared to proprietary software. This is because the public nature of the source code means that it's open to scrutiny from developers around the world. This allows for rapid identification and correction of any security vulnerabilities, leading to a form of 'crowdsourced' security.

On the other hand, proprietary software depends on a limited number of in-house developers for security checks, which could potentially leave vulnerabilities unnoticed and unresolved. Open source software's transparent nature contributes to its robust security, providing users with peace of mind.

5. Future-proofing

With the rapid pace of technological advancement, businesses must choose tools that can adapt and evolve. Here, open-source data visualization tools shine. Proprietary tools can become obsolete if the company behind them stops providing updates or goes out of business.

Open-source tools, however, are continuously updated and improved by a global community of developers. This ensures that they remain at the forefront of technology trends and advancements. Choosing open source for your data visualization needs can help future-proof your data strategies, making them resilient and adaptable to changes down the line.

6. Avoiding Vendor Lock-In

Another significant advantage of open-source tools is that they help avoid vendor lock-in. With proprietary software, organizations can become overly reliant on a single vendor for updates, support, and additional features. This dependence can lead to increased costs and limited flexibility in the long run.

On the other hand, open-source data visualization tools offer an escape from vendor lock-in. Since the source code is freely available, organizations are not reliant on a single vendor for support or improvements. They can modify the code or even hire third-party developers to do so, offering a degree of freedom that is not possible with proprietary software.

By considering these six crucial aspects, it becomes evident why more and more organizations are making the switch to open-source data visualization tools.

Apache Superset: A Leading Open Source Data Visualization Tool

When considering an open-source option, one name that consistently stands out is Apache Superset. It's one of the best data visualization tools l in the sector, and it embodies all of the advantages we've highlighted above.

Apache Superset, like all open-source software, is free to use, modify, and distribute. This makes it an economically viable choice for businesses of all sizes. Despite being free, it does not compromise on functionality or capabilities, providing features set on par with, or even exceeding expensive proprietary tools. This includes building graphs, charts, interactive dashboards, and a wide range of other useful features.

Superset's architecture is designed to be highly customizable and extensible. This allows users to modify the tool to suit their specific requirements, adding new visualization plugins, changing the look and feel of dashboards, or even adjusting the underlying logic as needed. Such flexibility is rare among proprietary tools but is a standard feature of open-source software like Apache Superset.

Being an open-source project, Apache Superset also benefits from a vibrant community of developers and users. Its source code is hosted on GitHub, providing users with a rich repository of shared knowledge, including solutions to common problems, optimization tips, and tutorials for newcomers.

Superset, like other open-source tools, is under the watchful eyes of a global community of developers who continuously inspect and improve its security features. Its robust security mechanisms include role-based access controls, LDAP integration, and the ability to set up database-level security schemas.

Apache Superset is an ever-evolving tool, thanks to its active developer community. Regular updates, new features, and bug fixes ensure that Superset continues to meet the needs of a rapidly advancing technological landscape.

With Apache Superset, there's no risk of vendor lock-in. Its open-source nature gives organizations the freedom to modify the code or hire third-party developers to do so if required. This freedom contrasts sharply with proprietary software, where users are reliant on a single vendor for updates and support.

Taking it to the next level with Preset

Preset takes the benefits of Apache Superset a notch higher. As a hosted Apache Superset solution, Preset provides users with the power of Superset without the need for internal hosting and maintenance. This allows organizations to focus on extracting value from their data, instead of managing infrastructure. This includes access to interactive charts, graphs, maps, and analytics you can use to transform your datasets.

Additionally, Preset provides professional support, offering dedicated assistance beyond what the open-source community can offer. This ensures any issues are resolved promptly and effectively, saving time and resources for the organization.

Preset also regularly contributes to the Apache Superset project, which means that users not only benefit from the latest features and improvements in Apache Superset but also contribute to the sustainability and growth of the open-source project.


In the realm of data visualization, open-source tools offer a compelling array of advantages over proprietary software. From cost-effectiveness to robust security, these tools can help organizations unlock a new level of data analysis and interpretation.

Choosing open-source data visualization tools means choosing a platform that offers flexibility, a supportive community, and future-proof capabilities. As more and more organizations make the switch, it's becoming increasingly clear that open-source tools are not just an alternative to proprietary software, but an essential resource in a data-driven world.

Apache Superset, and Preset as its hosted version, represent leading examples of why open-source data visualization tools are gaining increasing traction among businesses of all sizes and across all industries.
By embodying the key benefits of cost-effectiveness, flexibility, community support, enhanced security, future-proofing, avoiding vendor lock-in, and the added convenience of a hosted solution, they showcase the power and potential of open-source software in the realm of data visualization.

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