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I work for a large oil and gas company... there is no better tool to handle the large volume of data we collect on a daily basis then Spotfire.
I am easily able to identify trends and issues that need review and solutions quickly.
I would not be able to do my job as efficiently without Spotfire. It has made our company so much money!
Hi - So let me start by saying that I love Spotfire - and that we chose it after evaluating 15 other products over 18 months.
We are a very large and complex organisation so needed a depp, extensible and flexible platform - Spotfire largely delivers. Here's the things I think are great:
1) T.E.R.R : this is by far one of the stand-out features of the platform. TERR takes R and makes it enterprise and large data versatile and applicable without any effort. Data Functions are an outstanding feature we use alot for running complex and simple calculations that drive behaviours throughout our documents - extremely powerful.
2) Great Line-by (Lines and Curves) features : So also on the analytical front - it goes miles beyond Excel and platforms like Tableau to provide powerful lines and analyses, forecasts and extrapolations over data sets represented visually in Spotfire.
3) Text-Areas : what can I say - these are our bread and butter and awesome! We do alot of web design type functioanlity in these and the are a brilliant edition to the platform
4) Use of scripts and document properties : The API and scripting windows of spotfire are the heart of the product in my opinion. It gives you access to fundamental parts of the platform that you can bind up to deliver a simple user experience - it makes complex simple. You can give the user three buttons and using an IronPython script - make a mountain of changes across the document to deliver a seemless user experience. It is the paint through which a complex idea and data set is made simple and real.
5) Data Functions - great array of functions and the ability to define your own functions - if you know SQL and Excel, then you can get very creative very fast with a very familiar syntax.
6) Generally great looking visualisations - they look and feel of Spotfire both in desktop and web player is pretty great and not that far off in look from Tableau in my opinion.
7) Scheduled Updates in the web player - these are fantastic and so simple to setup. They allow us to pre-load analyses with large data sets so that the user only waits 0.2ms to open an analysis with 8.1M rows across 100 fields! Brilliant!
8) Recommendations - don't really use it BUT i can see the value in it for novice and new users
9) Desktop to web player fidelity in web player - great conversion of what you see in the desktop to what you see in the web player... I would go so far as to say pixel perfect!
10) Memory utilisation of scheduled updated analyses in web player - wow, is the web player efficient in its use of memory and server resoruces. We can have a very large analysis opened by 100 users and it hardly puts a dent in the server memory. This is a very significant difference between teh user web experience in Spotfire and other platforms in our experience - particularly on >10M records and >100 fields.
11) Mapping and GeoAnalytical - Wow - Spotfire smashes it out of the park in this area as it not only is extremely versatile in connecting to ESRI layers BUT i can code up image layers - we can even make beautiful infographics through this! See the examples on calculating road distances - just brilliant.
SPOTFIRE MISSES - Now remember - i love this platform (and i hope the developers see this and take these suggestions on board) but even in Spotfire v7.6 - there are some significant misses (or as we say - opportunities) :
1) Printing from the web player : Terrible! Especially if using the dark theme OR trying to produce graphics for a word document. You should be able to output as PDF, Vector Graphic or JPG - provide the user the option to include/exclude background colour OR Monochromate/Greyscale the output. We are literally paying for a render to vector graphic extension to be built.
2) Tooltips : You just have to look at jQuery tooltips to see what Spotfire should have - Spotfires tooltips are hard to ready, almost unformattable - both vaues and labels, and completely non-interactive. Not only can i not add a tooltip to a calculated value, etc in a text area (very frustrating), but I can't embed checkboxes or a link to take me to a reference document for the value and set the tooltip to be interactive. This is one thing Tableau has all over Spotfire in Spades - you should just implement tooltips as a text area or JS using something like jQuery qTips - tooltips are a vital means of providing the user ALOT more useful information.
3) Tables (All tableplots/ table types) : Ok this is my personal bug bear because ALL analytical/BI platforms are rubbish at tables - cross tables, summary tables, list tables, graphical tables. Here's a few things I'd like to be able to do that I can't:
- Align font within an individual column (maybe I want my numbers in the middle and text on the right?) - the improvements to cross tables in Spotfire 7.6 are great - but why haven't these column value/header align options be applied to all table types?
- Sorting on the Axes of a Graphical Table basically doesn't exist - why can't i specify sort order on the Axes Row (not calculated column) of a graphical table?
- Why can't i drill up/down through a crosstable ie. with a + symbol? I don't want to be able to see every value/row for a cross table heirachy expanded all at once as that may be hundreds of rows - I want our users to look at and expand those top-levels of the heirarchy down to the lowest level as they need (makes it more readable). It's hard to read if your data and heirachy is complex (ie. 3 or more levels - we work in Healthcare and it's very complex), and when every row at every level of the heirarchy is expanded... its a Scrollbar nightmare!
- Auto-width on all tables and individual columns! please ... add auto-width as an option on a column whereby I can specify a % width - We hate the fact that all tables in Spotfire are basically fixed-width... PLEASE - allow the table as a whole to auto-width to size of the container and also individual columns to be fixed width OR auto width (including the axes row for example in graphical tables) - we HATE scrollbars! I'll stop there (I could go on - clearly I was beaten up by a table in a dark alley at some stage!)... as you can tell... I have a thing about tables!
6) Donut charts : Ok, another personal thing... can you provide a slider in the options on pie charts that is for the size of the pie centre ie 0% size = pie charts, 90% size = donut chart (90% of the centre of the pie is missing) - this is how SAP XCelcius (Dashboards) does it. AND if its a donut chart - an option to show a value in the centre (through a doc property/expression) with an action on clicking this value in the centre. That would make my day - I see promo's of TIBCO and Spotfire (TIBCO Now... on NOW!) actually has a donut chart in it yet SPotfire doesn't do donuts! Now if you implement native JS Charting frameworks ie. D3 - then I can just do it there :)
7) Data Labels on Charts : So if i have value labels on a visualisation and they overlap - they should space out and use a leader line (just like on maps which are beautiful by the way) - again - pie chart are a perfect example of this. D3 and almost all JS pie charts do this - have a line away from the section of the pie to a value label. It spaces out the data and makes it more readable - line charts are another example where it's desperately needed.
8) Heirachies on Chart Axes : this is really poor in Spotfire - yes heirarchies are easy to setup and apply, but its how they work (or don't work) and look. If i have 4 FIN years and a heirachy down to month and week... is the X axes even readable? It really isn't with over 200 values on that axes. In SAS Visual Analytics - You start off seeing the top level of the heirachy only - each value is underlined like a web link (cause its a heirachy) - when you click one of the FIN year values - it then drills down to that FIN year and ONLY shows the months for that FIN year... if i click on a month value in that FIN year on the axes - it shows me the week level heirachy only for that month. SO it is a drill-through option on an axis heirachy - its brilliant, especially on small screens like tablets. You really need to have this as an option to drill-through axis levels rather than blowing open all values for all levels of a heirachy by default - its just not readable and because it looks ridiculous - we dont use heirarchies which is a huge shame as Spotfire is rbilliant at building DateTime Hieirarchies. We have a couple of examples of platforms that do this well and a long list of reasons why this is a great option.
So that is my first review - we actually as a developer team in Spotfire keep a list of all the annoyances and missing features, but we think of more use is our 100 point functional evaluations of 14 of your competitor platforms fleshed out over 18 months - happy to share with you TIBCO.
Spotfire across the areas of mobility, analytics, dashboarding and web authoring is the best kept secret in the world of BI and Analytics! We don't understand why it isnt everywhere and wiping the floor with Tableau! We love the platform for the above reasons and thinkt that if even some of the features above were implemented - then there is nothing that Spotfire won't be able to do to dominate its competition!
I give Spotfire a score of 9/10 and couldnt recommend it highly enough!
I use Spotfire on a daily basis and love it but I am part of the Spotfire team. We would like you, our Spotfire customers and partners to add reviews here and provide feedback on the Spotfire product. Thanks!
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