I spent some time yesterday talking to Chart.io, a company laser-focused on being an interface for organizational data. That’s a complex way of saying that Chart.io aims to take raw data out of different applications and databases and give organizations a pallet of tools with which to create illustrative charts (hence the name) that depict the data in ways that turn raw and meaningless data into interactive and engaging illustrations.
There is no question that organizations need tools that allow them to analyze the ever-increasing deluge of data they face – the plethora of BI tools that spring up every day is testimony to this, but chart.io has a somewhat different tack. Rather than creating a data warehouse and allowing organizations to run complex analytics over that warehoused data, chart.io take a live feed, and gives users a pre-configured set of tools with which to manipulate it – the thinking goes that this feed versus warehouse approach is better both in terms of security and also in terms of speed and agility.
Anyway – onto the GA announcement. Chart.io is rolling out a host of integrations – it can be used with such diverse data sources as MySQL, PostgreSQL, AWS RDS, Rackspace Cloud Databases, Heroku, Google Analytics and Oracle RDBMS. Alongside this, Chartio is announcing a number of partnerships, it has joined the Amazon Web Services Partner Network as a Technology Partner, and can be found in the Google Analytics App Gallery and the Rackspace Cloud Tools Marketplace.
New features alongside the GA include:
- Dashboard Filters: Visual, user-friendly controls that quickly shift every chart on a dashboard to a new metric. Date ranges can be changed with a slider that shows actual data, so customers can zero-in on when events actually happened – not just arbitrary calendar days – or the entire view can be pivoted per product, per category, or by any similar metric.
- Automatic Drill-downs: Chartio automatically drills through time-series or category-based charts, so nearly any line chart or bar graph will drill-down into more finite data ranges without any custom set-up work.
- Fine-control Dashboard Layouts: A new grid system provides much greater control over how dashboards can be laid out, and scales to fit any size of display.
- Dashboard export and reporting: Any single chart can be downloaded as a PDF, PNG or CSV, whole dashboards can be downloaded for printing as a PDF, and PDF dashboard delivery can be scheduled by email for any Chartio customer.
- Improved Dashboard and Chart User Interface: Chartio continues to make readability and the presentation of beautiful data its top priorities. The new chart and dashboard interfaces showcase the data, letting controls, buttons and distractions blend into the background.
I like what Chartio is doing – their focus is on giving organizations rapid and flexible data insights – a rough and ready BI if you will. Allowing pre-configured integrations across common database types should greatly ease the pain of adoption for the product. I do suspect however that Chartio need to think more about becoming an engine rather than a destination. Currently a user signs up, plugs in their database and then visits Chartio to create their charts. that’s useful, but not nearly as useful as thinking of Chartio as a charting engine, that can be embedded deeply within an application to create charting dashboards and the like.
In differentiating itself, Chartio rightly points out that many of the other cloud BI tools require a degree of service to get set up – no matter how they spin it, anyone requiring a data warehouse will be needing a degree of service work in order to allow customers to actually use this tool. By avoiding the data warehouse issue, Chartio democratizes BI further than it has been before – their focus is on putting control in the hands of the users – a worthy ambition.
Chartio have built an attractive and user friendly tool – there is more they could do to really push home their value proposition but as it stands they’ve made a good first couple of steps down their opportunity path.