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4 Alternatives to Looker Embedded in 2024 that address its limitations

Written by
Rogan Sage,
last updated on
June 27, 2024

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Looker is a popular business intelligence (BI) platform among teams that depend on Google Workspace. One of the things that makes it attractive to data scientists is LookML, the solution’s source-controlled semantic layer. 

However, Looker is very, very expensive, and the bill goes up for embedded analytics. We’ll get into detail below, but essentially, Looker offers three embedding options for internal and external. They each require users to sign up to view and interact with the data—charging you a fee per account. 

There are certainly better options for your wallet (and overall UX). Perhaps that’s why you’re in the market for an alternative to Looker Embedded. In this article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of Looker Embedded together. Then, we’ll explore some of the best alternatives available—to help you find the best tool on the market and add the most value to your end user.

NOTE: This article is about Looker Embedded, not Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) or Looker BI.
Discover a developer-friendly toolkit that’s purpose-built for creating remarkable customer-facing analytics in a fraction of the time. Learn more

Looker Embedded

Looker dashboard with various visualizations
Looker allows you to create colorful and eye-catching visualizations to share data with end users.

Looker Embedded is part of the Google Cloud and works as an add-on for Looker BI. It offers three embedding options (all through an iframe): 

  • Signed Embedding. You share your Looks or dashboard to your website and users that log into your system are already authorized to view the data.
  • Private Embedding. You share your Looks or dashboard with external users. They need to be re-authenticated through Google auth to view the data, e.g. with their Gmail account.
  • Public embed. You share Looks (not dashboards) on websites, apps, or public pages. 

While Looker embeds through an iframe, it’s not quite the same as other BI tools with embedded capabilities. Most of these tools slap your dashboards or reports straight into your app (somewhat sluggishly, thanks to iframe embedding).

Instead, Looker provides users with access to a portal. Here, they can see the data you make available, but they can also bring in and analyze their own data. It’s a bit like providing a data infrastructure that they can customize. It sounds cool, but it has drawbacks, as we’ll explore below.

Battle of the BI: Discover the differences between Looker Embedded vs Power BI Embedded.

Why you might look for an alternative to Looker Embedded

Looker’s analytics are high-quality, but generally not suited to startups or smaller businesses, thanks to the price tag. One user we interviewed was given a quote of $120k a year as a starting point for their use case (which aligns with the retail prices shared on the AWS Marketplace).

Here’s a round-up of the main limitations of Looker Embedded:

  • Embedding costs a small fortune. On top of the bill you’re already paying for Looker BI, you pay for each external user that views your dashboards. “We have to pay the same monthly price per user for embed viewers as for internal viewers, which seems a bit unfair,” says Reddit user @Anna_jcs on r/BusinessIntelligence. “Our embed viewers can see five dashboards, whereas internal viewers can see hundreds of dashboards and Looks.
  • The UX isn’t great. Looker embeds through an iframe which means your analytics are in an inflexible rectangular box and experiences can be clunky and slow to load. Plus, Looker uses SSO for external embedding, so your customers need to have a Gmail account to log in through the Looker API—this adds another layer of complexity to the experience.
  • There’s a steep learning curve to full utilization. Looker has an easy ramp-up. If you’re a Looker Studio user, you can create a simple dashboard in hours. But, you’ll need an engineer to dedicate time and effort to understand LookML and fully make the most of Looker’s expensive offering.
  • You get limited control over your design. Like all plug-and-play BI tools, Looker lacks full customization freedom. “You're never going to be able to make it look exactly how you want and it’s never going to feel like it's directly part of your platform, because it's [embedded] through an iframe,” says Henry Coleman, Co-founder and General Manager at LocalClarity.
“I can easily share Looker with somebody who has a Google email address. However, the visualization capabilities of the product are limited. I can't clean data in Looker, and if I try to do it, it’s a really big process.” — Looker user.

Looker alternatives at a glance

Before writing this article, we investigated all the most popular embedded analytics solutions on the market. Here, we’ll explore four of the best alternatives we found, including a purpose-built embedded analytics platform and our own product for building fully bespoke experiences.

A comparison chart showing alternative tools to Looker

1. Embeddable 

Embeddable no code builder illustration
Access a three-part SDK to suit the needs of your teams. Developers tweak the code, while your customer-facing teams easily create analytics experiences for your customers.

Embeddable is a dedicated platform for building lightning-fast, fully bespoke user-facing analytics.

We know, from years of successfully running Trevor.io, that it’s not enough to design a dashboard on a BI tool and embed it into your app—at least not if you’re planning to add maximum value to your end-users through presenting them with data. 

We also know how complex it is to build custom analytics from scratch. So, we built Embeddable, the solution that gives you the best of both worlds: the customizability of custom-built data analytics and the simplicity of a plug-and-play tool. 

With Embeddable, you’ll get everything you need to deliver a remarkable, custom experience to your users, including:

  • Front-end toolkit and component library. Incorporate the charts from our library and edit them in code. Want to add your own specialist chart? No problem - you have the full power to create whatever you need.
  • A powerful no-code builder. The third part of this toolkit is a portal so your customer-facing teams  can build and iterate upon your dashboards without needing to code. Instead, they use an intuitive interface with point-and-click functionality to build experiences that align with your brand. Unlike Looker Embedded, there’s no need for users to create a separate account or sign in.
  • Infrastructure, built-in.  Embeddable works behind the scenes to manage your security, performance, caching, and infrastructure requirements—and provide the end user with real-time data that loads instantly. Embeddable integrates with all major databases securely through a read-only transaction and lets you customize the cache for better performance and reduced data warehouse costs.

Embeddable follows a headless architecture approach, so we let you combine data models and charting components that you can tweak as needed. These definitions allow your customer-facing employees to intuitively create dashboards that align perfectly with your existing UX & UI. 

What users say about Embeddable

Embeddable appeals to users because we allow them to create fully bespoke analytics experiences (in 10% of the time it would take them to build them from scratch). All without sacrificing security, performance, or budget.

“[With Embeddable] I don't have to have two completely different data architectures, which many platforms require. Here, you tap your own database, you type your own thing.” — Henry Coleman, Co-founder and General Manager at LocalClarity.
“Easy to use, clearly-written docs, super friendly team” — Bart Lammers, CTO at Eyk

Embeddable pricing

We offer fixed pricing for embedded analytics. This means you pay a monthly rate without hidden costs or extra fees per users, viewers, or dashboards. 

This model makes Embeddable scalable and very affordable for mid to large businesses, or products with a large or growing user base. “It has immediate ROI,” says Henry. “We’ve been using Embeddable for a month and already have positive ROI. The moment we don't have to build in-house, this tool has already paid for itself.”

Embeddable vs. Looker Embedded

The main differences between Embeddable and Looker Embedded include:

  • Embeddable is a purpose-built product for building custom user-facing analytics, whereas Looker is a BI tool with embedding capabilities.
  • Embeddable embeds using web components so the analytics experience loads directly in your DOM, while Looker embeds using an iframe. This makes Looker’s dashboard feel foreign to your app.
  • Looker has limited customization options while you get full design freedom when using Embeddable.
  • Embeddable is more cost-efficient for businesses because it charges a fixed price, while Looker charges per users and features.
  • Users report slow loading times with Looker, whereas Embeddable is built to load in under 100ms.
Pro tip: If you’re already using Looker internally and have a large budget, you might benefit from the simplicity of sticking to the same tool for embedded analytics. However, if you want full customization freedom, a reasonable pricing model, and zero iframes, then Embeddable could be a better option for you.

2. GoodData

GoodData overview dashboard with KPIs
Build dashboards on GoodData using the predetermined charts and embed them on your external applications

GoodData is an analytics software that allows you to create data visualizations and share them with your users (internal or external) and has recently added AI features. GoodData has three products: Headless BI, Embedded Analytics, and a Data Visualization tool. Here, we’ll focus on Embedded Analytics. 

The platform uses drag-and-drop functionality to create fairly interactive dashboards. You can choose from a variety of out-of-the-box charting options, add filters, drill-downs and drill-throughs, and zoom features for better readability. 

With GoodData, you can embed your dashboards through an iframe, a React SDK, or web components. Plus, you can use automation and predictive analysis to anticipate potential trends. That said, GoodData has a somewhat steep learning curve and lacks full customization freedom for embedded analytics.

What users say about GoodData

GoodData is one of the few BI tools that supports different embedding methods, rather than relying only on iframes. However, it takes time for users to get fully accustomed to the tool and can become limited with their menu of charting options.

“GoodData connects with various data sources and consolidates information from multiple platforms. This flexibility proves invaluable for businesses dealing with data spread across different systems as they can access large amounts of data on a single platform. However, having more flexibility in customizing reports and dashboards and control over the visual aspects would enhance the overall user experience.” — Abhishek Chhabra, Account Manager at Ebizon Digital Pvt ltd

GoodData pricing

GoodData sets prices based on ‘workspaces’ rather than users or features. According to GoodData, a separate workspace is usually required for each customer, meaning you could pay way above their starting price of $1,500 per month* if you have many customers. Plus, if you need certain security measures or to process more data, you’ll need a custom quote.

*billed annually

GoodData vs Looker Embedded

While GoodData and Looker are both predominantly BI tools with an embedding feature, they differ in these main ways:

  • Looker only embeds through an iframe while GoodData supports other options like web components and a React SDK
  • Looker can be much more expensive than GoodData (depending on how many workspaces you need!)
  • Looker has more advanced enterprise-level features when compared to GoodData
  • Both GoodData and Looker provide limited control over the UX and UI
Pro tip: These two products allow you to model your data. GoodData does it through its headless BI; and Looker, through LookML. So, if you want to standardize your definitions but don’t have a +$100k yearly budget for analytics, GoodData might do it for you. 

3. Luzmo

Luzmo ecommerce KPI dashboard showing a map with zoom functionality for deeper data analysis
Create dashboards on Luzmo and allow your users to zoom-in on the different metrics to gain more information.

Luzmo is a cloud-based, purpose-built platform for designing embeddable charts and analytics dashboards. While Luzmo isn’t a BI tool, it supports self-service analytics through an enterprise feature called the dashboard editor. There, users can interact and edit the data to build their own dashboards. 

Luzmo embeds using web components and offers a drag-and-drop interface for designing analytics experiences. Despite its ease of use, Luzmo isn’t the best option if you need to process highly complex data analytics. According to users, these take longer to build and require more time from your technical team. Plus, Luzmo doesn’t let you create custom formulas to organize and view the data.

What users say about Luzmo

Luzmo users enjoy that you can build interactive dashboards in hours. However, Luzmo limits how much you can customize your design and the UI gets harder to navigate with time.  

“The team is super friendly and always happy to give us advice. But, we’re missing a few advanced features (e.g., formulas in widgets) when having complex use cases.” — Coline B., Luzmo user.

Luzmo pricing

Luzmo has three pricing tiers: 

  • Basic: $995/month for 100 monthly active viewers, one designer, and Luzmo’s branding.
  • Pro: $2050/month for 500 monthly active viewers and five designers. This plan supports white labeling.
  • Elite: $3100/month for 1000 monthly active viewers and 30 designers. This version supports the embedded dashboard editor.
  • If you have more users then you’ll need to get in touch for a quote.

Luzmo vs. Looker Embed

Luzmo is different from Looker because:

  • Looker is primarily a business intelligence software that supports embedding. Luzmo is a purpose-built embedded analytics platform 
  • Luzmo embeds through web components while Looker uses an iframe
  • Luzmo is much more affordable than Looker as it’s built for end-users
  • Looker is better for processing advanced data and highly complex queries
  • Looker is a more advanced tool with enterprise features whereas Luzmo is more ‘lightweight’
  • Both have a limited ‘menu’ of components that you can’t fully control or add to
Pro tip: Comparing Looker and Luzmo is like signing up for an F1 race with a Prius. A Prius is a perfectly good, gas-efficient car that’ll take you from A to B. You won’t win a NASCAR race but, then again, you don’t need a Ferrari to go to the grocery store.

In this case, Looker is like the Ferrari. It’s the more powerful choice for processing highly complex queries using a secure interface. However, if all you want is to add a little value to your end-user with a simple interface, Luzmo may get you there.

4. Sigma

Sigma Computing sales analytics dashboard for embedded analytics
Sigma follows a similar logic to Excel and lets you create dashboards with custom formulas

Sigma Computing is a no-code self-service BI tool for business users. It connects to multiple data warehouses and most SQL databases. This business intelligence tool allows users to embed their dashboards or reports into other apps through an iframe. 

Like Looker, Sigma is also cloud-based and allows users to build dashboards by choosing charts and visuals from its visualization library. It’s a mature tool, with a fairly shallow learning curve.

However, like many BI tools, Sigma has an opinionated UI. You get a menu of predefined charting components, but you can’t edit them as you would if the designs were part of your repo. And, while it’s less expensive than Looker, Sigma is still a costly option for many businesses. 

What users say about Sigma 

Users like that Sigma is easy to use and allows users to make more data-driven decisions. However, customisation options are ultimately limited and using an iframe as an embedding method makes the analytics experience feel foreign to the rest of the app

“It lacks a lot of visualization types, but they have added new features that improved visualization and dashboard creation.” — Sigma user on the real estate market.

Sigma pricing 

Sigma doesn’t disclose its pricing on the website, but some users online share it’s around $1,000 per creator per year. This can add up to $25,000-$35,000 per year. 

Sigma vs Looker Embedded

Sigma and Looker are both business intelligence platforms. Here’s how they compare:

  • They both offer embedding capabilities through an iframe which can be slow and clunky
  • Users say Sigma is much easier to set up than Looker—it’s more user-friendly and never requires users to have a Gmail account to view the data
  • Sigma is generally more affordable than Looker 
  • Looker can process more complex queries than Sigma
  • Both have a limited set of charts to choose from, with limited customisation options
Pro tip: If your priority is simple UX and ease-of-use and then try Sigma. Meanwhile, Looker is the better option for very complex queries—or if you just want a Ferrari.

What about custom-built embedded analytics?

No BI tool in the market can offer the levels of customization and control you’d get from developing your analytics experience in-house. In fact, many of the best examples of user-facing analytics are custom-built. 

But providing users with fully bespoke analytics is costly and time-consuming. You need to define security measures and data models and bring datasets together—not to mention design the different charts and visualizations your end-user is interested in.

So, to help you get the simplicity of use of a BI platform and the customization freedom of tailor-made experiences, we built Embeddable. With its headless approach, Embleddable gives you everything you would expect from the best embedded tools  while giving you full control over the frontend, UX, and UI and embedding natively in your app. 

Which embedded analytics solution is right for you?

Looker Embedded is a potential solution for enterprise–grade businesses with a large budget—that don’t mind using an iframe. However, if that’s not you, here’s a quick recap of the best alternatives:

  • You want to embed through web components and offer a native feel: Unlike the other tools on this list, Embeddable isn’t a simple out-of-the-box platform that comes with a limited set of pre-defined visualizations. This three-part SDK gives you the freedom to build the analytics experiences that you want and align with your brand. 
  • You need a similar tool to Looker, but at a lower price: Try one of the better BI platforms with embedded analytics capabilities, like Sigma. It’s cloud-based, has a range of charting options, and can be more affordable. But if you’re looking for more control over the UX & UI, it’s still limited.
  • You want a purpose-built tool:some text
    • Luzmo offers slightly different pricing tiers that vary depending on your user base. This can make it more affordable than other similar options. 
    • GoodData lets you model your data in its semantic layer, which simplifies dashboard creation. Then, you can embed those analytics experiences into external apps with a web component.

All of these tools have their pros and cons. However, Embeddable is the only one from this list that gives you full flexibility and control over your analytics. Embeddable combines the customization of build from scratch with the simplicity of a SaaS tool. All wrapped up in an affordable, fixed-price quote.

Discover a developer-friendly toolkit that’s purpose-built for creating remarkable customer-facing analytics in a fraction of the time. Learn more

Frequently asked questions about Looker Embedded alternatives

What’s the Microsoft equivalent to Looker?

The Microsoft equivalent to Looker is Power BI. It’s Microsoft’s self-service BI platform with embedding capabilities. Microsoft Power BI is quite popular because it was one of the first reliable options to hit the market and because of its ardent commitment to security. 

When it comes to embedded analytics, neither can give you much control over the UX or UI of your charts and dashboards. Since both Looker and Power BI were primarily built for internal BI, their components will always feel foreign to your app. If that’s not a problem for your use case, Power BI may at least be a bit more affordable than Looker.

What’s the open-source equivalent of Looker?

Apache Superset is the open-source equivalent of Looker. However, to embed Superset dashboards, you may need to use the fully managed SaaS version called Preset. While the open-source version of Superset is free, Preset charges $20+ per user per month.

What are some cost-effective alternatives to Looker for embedded analytics?

Embeddable, Sigma, and Luzmo are all more cost-effective than Looker for embedded analytics. Here’s how they compare:

  • Embeddable uses a fixed pricing model so costs won’t snowball as you scale. It’s an SDK for building fully bespoke analytics in 10% of the time it would take to build from scratch.
  • Sigma is another BI tool that embeds using an iframe, but costs less than Looker, according to users.
  • Luzmo is a purpose-built embedded analytics solution that embeds using a web component. It’s not as customizable as Embeddable, but it’s usually more cost-effective than Looker, starting at $995/month for 100 monthly active viewers.

Embeddable is registered in England as TMD Technology Limited (no. 13856879), at International House, 142 Cromwell Road, London, SW7 4EF.