SUPERSET

Apache Superset vs Metabase

Srini Kadamati

Open Source Business Intelligence

After Databricks acquired Redash, Metabase and Apache Superset were the last two popular open-source business intelligence platforms left that were open source.

Apache Superset is the most popular open-source business intelligence platform in the world (by Github stars). Here at Preset, we're incredibly optimistic that the future of BI is open source.

In this post, we'll showcase where Metabase shines and struggles in comparison to Preset Cloud / Superset.

What is Preset Cloud?

Preset's founder and CEO is Max Beauchemin, the original creator of Apache Superset. At Preset, we're the experts of Superset and we're proud to be the leading vendor offering Apache Superset as a cloud hosted service. In addition to all of the features that Superset has out of the box, we add the following:

  • Preset Manager: our admin layer that lets you create multiple Superset workspaces and manage permissions using role-based access control (RBAC)
  • Documentation & Training: we maintain high quality end-user focused documentation and also offer training
  • Compliance & Security: Preset is SOC2 Type 1 & Type 2 compliant and we offer single sign-on (SSO) for paid teams
  • World-class Support: teams on a paid tier get access to our dedicated email and chat support

Data Sources

The Superset community enjoys the benefit of being a project housed in the Apache Software Foundation. The barrier to contributing is low and the Superset community has added support for new databases at a breakneck pace.

CategoryMetabaseSuperset
SQL databases1220+
NoSQL databases1 (MongoDB)0 (possible through Trino / Presto)
SQL Engines3 (Presto, Databricks, Athena)5 (Presto, Trino, Drill, Athena, Databricks)

No-code Query Builder

FeatureMetabaseSuperset
Support common SQL operations (Select, Filter, GroupBy, etc)
Preview visualization during iteration
Preview generated SQL query during iteration
View data transformation results as a table
Use virtual datasets to build charts
Ability to join tables➕ In Development

Both Metabase and Superset have no-code interfaces for crafting SQL queries.

Visualization Features

Business intelligence tools are only as good as the visualizations they enable.

FeatureMetabaseSuperset
Common charts (pie, line, bar, etc)
Funnel visualizations
Sankey diagrams
Network visualization
Clear documentation on adding your own visualizations
Number of default charts1740 (and growing 📈)
Number of geospatial visualizations310

Similar to how the Superset community helped drive support for over 20 databases, they've also been the driving force behind the large array of visualizations in Superset. This is no surprise, since Superset's contributor community is significantly larger than Metabase's.

Advanced SQL Editor

FeatureMetabaseSuperset
Export query results as CSV
Database metadata explorer
Linting and auto-complete
Support for variables in SQL queries
Multi-tab workflow
Save query for re-use
Semantic layer: save queries as virtual datasets
Semantic layer: define custom metrics
Semantic layer: calculated columns

Both Metabase and Superset ship with a powerful SQL editor and a lightweight semantic layer.

  1. Aggregate values across multiple columns and publish as Metrics.
  2. Metrics can be certified as authoritative by a specific user.
  3. Transform specific columns and publish as Calculated Columns.
  4. Write arbitrary SQL queries and publish as a Virtual Dataset.

In the no-code chart builder (Explore), metrics, columns, and virtual datasets all inherit the power that physical database tables have in Superset.

FeatureMetabaseSuperset
Basic datetime, value, and range filters
Dashboard templating
Custom theming
Dashboard can contain charts from multiple data sources
Cross-filtering

Superset is widely known for the beautiful charts and dashboards you can create quickly. Here's an example that's a community favorite:

Apache Superset slack dashboard

Enterprise Features

FeatureMetabasePreset Cloud
Single sign-on (SSO)
Usage and audit logs
Admin API
Row level security
Chart or dashboard level permissioning
Workspace level RBAC (role-based access control)
Viewer-only mode
SaaS Cloud option
Self-hosted / on-prem deployment✅ (Superset)
Hybrid Deployment
Embedded✅ (Beta)

Preset extends Superset by adding powerful enterprise features. The following graphic helps visualize the differences:

Preset Crust

Conclusion

Whichever BI vendor you end up choosing, we strongly recommend choosing one that's built on open source.

If you'd like to try Superset, Preset Cloud offers a free-forever tier for you to try out all the bells and whistles in a hassle-free way.

Preset Cloud is now generally available for anyone to use and we're excited to launch with a free-forever tier. You can get started for free here!

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