Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Free dashboard development tools and softwares

I'm reading: Free dashboard development tools and softwaresTweet this !
In today's budget economy, everyone wants free tools and softwares, and whosoever provides the same FREE, manages to invite a tsunami full of attention from the target audience. But I see it from a different perspective, and one point is what you want for free and why you want for free ?

I recently received a query from one of my blog readers, requesting me to share any free dashboard development tools or software for use with SSAS. In my perspective if you are having a data warehouse and/or data mart and you intend to use a free dashboard development tool, I interpret it as any or all of the below:

1) You are not serious about your dashboarding solution, so you do not intend to invest much or anything on this front.

2) Your dashboard solution is expected to be of a very modest size, so you do not intend to invest.

3) You might be wanting to get a feel of a dashboard, so you might be intending to create some POC or flavor of dashboard.

4) You want a dashboarding solution, but you are out of budget.

In case if you have a enterprise class or even SMB class data warehouse and/or data mart, right at the time of solution design and estimation, dashboarding would have been considered into your estimates. Now as you are looking for a free dashboarding tool, considering the above points, I derive that you do not need a very high-end complex professional dashboard development platform and/or software. In that case below are the options that can help you create your dashboard with your existing licenses, which would be almost free for you.

1) SSRS 2008 R2 has great UI capabilites like data bars, sparklines, indicators, charts and more. Using the same you can emulate a very rich dashboard UI. If you have an enterprise SQL Server license, you already have SSRS and you would not need anything extra to develop your dashboard.

2) .NET / MOSS Development, is one of the other options to create a dashboard. .NET Framework is free and redistributable, and there are many editors using which you can develop .NET based UI and host it on your reporting / hosting platform to emulate a dashboard.

3) Excel is also known as poor man's or business users dashboarding tool. You can develop dashboards by exploting rich UI capabilites of excel, and make the workbook available through some office viewer component to give the feel of a dashboard to your users. Most enterprises would have MS Office license inevitably and the only cost challenge would be to figure out how you would make your excel based dashboard available to your users. Also if you have Excel Web App and Excel 2010, you have a kind of collaboration platform for your dashboard too.

Performancepoint Services is definitely not free, comes only with enterprise edition of MOSS 2010, has limited customization capabilites and skilled professionals on this tool would be scarcely available in the industry. I do not intend to convey that these options can replace PPS, but considering the reasons you would be looking out for free dashboarding tool, these options should be able to cater most of your requirements. If you are on the Microsoft platform and you are in hunt of free dashboarding tools, you should check your existing set of licensed tools and you might find that your best bet is just below your sleeve !!

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