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Preset Embedded Dashboards: 4 Alternatives for better user-facing analytics

Written by
Rogan Sage,
last updated on
June 18, 2024

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When Embedding dashboards into your website or application, you want your users to experience remarkable analytics that empower them to make decisions based on data.

Preset is one of many tools that can help you achieve it, but it does have some drawbacks. Even with all the configurability of Apache Superset, the open source platform it sits on top of, it doesn’t offer much flexibility when it comes to customizing your analytics experiences. 

But here’s the thing: Most out-of-the-box solutions are even less flexible. Delivering fully bespoke analytics usually means building them from scratch (which is probably even more complex and time consuming than you think). Hear us out.

Since you’re on this page, it’s likely you want to hear about out-of-the-box solutions first. So, let’s review Preset together and take a look at the best alternatives on the market. We’ll talk about the custom-build problem later.

Each alternative on our list is selected to make up for Preset’s limitations. That way, we hope you’ll find something that can deliver the unique experiences you want for your users.

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

Contents

Preset Embedded Dashboards

Dashboard from Preset showing transport stats relating to arrival and departure delays
Preset’s drag and drop interface is intuitive at first, but you need coding experience to create highly custom charts. Source: Preset

First, there was Apache Superset, the open source platform for data exploration. Then, came Preset, the full-managed SaaS version of Superset. 

With Preset, you can embed dashboards into your application’s front-end. It lets you customize the UI and handle guest token fetching, giving you some control over how users experience your analytics. 

If you want the benefits of open source but the customer service and support of a SaaS, Preset seems like a viable option. It has a broad visualization library with a range of chart types to choose from. It also offers:

  • Drag-and-drop user interface for simple dashboard building
  • Control over what data is displayed to each user via row-level security (RLS)

Why you might look for alternatives to Preset

As you may have discovered, there are a few drawbacks to using Preset for user-facing analytics. Let’s take a look:

  • It embeds using iframe. As a result, you don’t get full control over the code or how the analytics interact with the reset of your application. This embedding method also makes everything slower, since the user has to first load Preset within your app to view the data. 
  • There’s a steep learning curve. Preset’s drag-and-drop builder is fairly intuitive and easy to use, but only at a basic level. If you want to customize your analytics experiences and make the most of the open source platform, you’ll need to dedicate an experienced developer to the task.

“Unlike its competitors, it's quite challenging to use,” said a Data Analytics Manager on G2. “Some features, you can't really expect non-technical users to be able to intuitively utilize.” 

  • You don’t get full customization freedom. Even experienced users report a lack of overall flexibility when it comes to adapting the code. You may end up with analytics experiences that don’t feel fully native to your app and don’t quite meet the needs of the end user. 

“There are lots of charts, but sometimes I wish I could customize little things in them, especially the fancy ones that need the data in a certain format to use,” says one user on the r/BusinessIntelligence subreddit.

  • It could get real costly, real fast. Embedded dashboards are an add-on for the Pro plan, which starts at $20/month per user. However, Preset charges and additional $500/month for only 50 viewers of your embedded dashboards. It’s not the most appealing approach to pricing for embedded analytics, especially if your user base is large or growing.
[Preset] makes the user experience very intuitive and convenient. One thing I would wish for a new feature is a native integration with dbt so that Superset automatically displays all of our important metadata stored in our dbt project.” 
Preset user

Preset alternatives at a glance

We investigated the best embedding solutions on the market and shortlisted the best alternatives to answer Preset’s limitations.

Here’s a brief overview:

Preset Embeddable Sigma Explo Metabase
Embed method iframe Web component iframe iframe or web component iframe
Main benefit Built on open-source, supports more customization than most BI platforms Full customization freedom in code & sub-second loading speeds Ease of use Made for user-facing analytics Easy to use with limited developer dependency
Main disadvantage Steep learning curve Embedded analytics only - not part of an internal BI tool. Cost, customization, embed method Very expensive for big user bases Very opinionated UI
Pricing Starts at $20 per user per month + a $500 embedding license for 50 viewers Fixed price, no hidden fees or license fees per views or users Not disclosed - users say around $1,000 per creator/year Starts at $1995 per month for white label Starts at $500 per 10 users per month (embedding included)

Let's review each one in detail.

1. Embeddable

Configurable area chart built on Embeddable with bespoke KPI highlight, drill-down and modal
Direct built this embeddable with a persisting KPI header, filters, date picker and comparison options—as well as custom colors, fonts, and spacing. Source: Embeddable

With Embeddable’s software development kit (SDK), you can build fully bespoke, lightning-fast user-facing analytics experiences—in just 10% of the time it takes to build from scratch.

Its headless architecture approach means your developers can combine data models and charting components—and tweak them to sit seamlessly in your existing UI.

With Embeddable, you get: 

  • Next-gen embedding. Embeddable avoids iframe entirely and embeds using a web component instead. Without an iframe slowing things down, your dashboards load fast, directly in your DOM. This also enables bi-directional communication between your app and the embedded charts, meaning they blend into the overall user experience.
  • Front-end toolkit. We provide the charts, you bring them into your git repo and make all the edits you like. It’s pure code, so you can also work with an open source charting library (like Highcharts) or build your own. Our SDK makes it super straightforward to push your charts to Embeddable.
  • Backend engine.  Our backend engine takes care of security and caching and makes sure every component interacts smoothly. Since you can customize the cache, your charts will be high-performing. Your customers get real-time data and impressive, interactive dashboards. Plus, it’ll connect to most databases through a secure, read-only transaction.
  • No-code builder. You do need some developer input to get set up with Embeddable. But after that, the intuitive point-and-click interface can be used by anyone to build and iterate dashboards—no coding required. That’s one less barrier to remarkable analytics that align with your brand and meet user needs.
See what you can achieve when you’ve got full customization control: Examples of analytics experiences built with Embeddable

What users say about Embeddable

Developers, designers, and product people are already using Embeddable to pioneer with next-gen embedded analytics experiences. 

They like it because they can create native-feeling experiences with live data, but it’s much faster and more straightforward than coding from scratch.

"Embeddable is making it easier and quicker to build insights and dashboards for our customers, enabling us to make changes in a no-code builder and deploy them without engineering input."  — Ritchie Cargill, Technical Lead at Resident Advisor
“This was the easiest/smoothest BI dashboard embedding process I’ve done (and not an iframe!! 😄). Thanks a lot guys. 🙌” — Brent Scholl, Full Stack Web Developer at Parcelytics.
“Easy to use, clearly-written docs, super friendly team.” — Bart Lammers, CTO at Eyk

Embeddable pricing

With Embeddable, you pay a flat monthly rate without additional fees per users, viewers, or dashboards. If you expect usage to grow, this could be a powerful but affordable solution for you.

"One of our use cases is to provide embedded analytics to the customers of our customers. When pricing is per dashboard viewer, it becomes commercially unviable. Embeddable, offered the best package, fully customisable and a flat pricing." — Rodel van Rooijen, Founding Engineer at Solvimon.

Embeddable vs Preset Embedded Dashboards

If you’re choosing between Preset and Embeddable, consider this:

  • Embeddable offers next-gen embedding via web component while Preset embeds using an iframe. 
  • You’ll get lightning-fast loading speeds with Embeddable as it offers you a configurable caching layer and doesn’t have to load an iframe first, unlike Preset.
  • Both provide a library of visualizations but with Preset users find it difficult to fully customize them and add advanced components. With Embeddable, you own the code. That means you can use any charting library you like, and easily bring in elements from your existing design system. 
  • Both offer no-code builders for non-technical users. Both also require developer input but Preset’s learning curve might be steeper overall. 
  • Embeddable offers fixed pricing whereas Preset could get costly as you scale. 
Pro tip: If you’d really prefer not to touch any code, and don’t need a bespoke UX and fast loading speeds, Preset will do—especially if you can keep costs down with 50 viewers or less. 

However, if you think your usage could scale and you want high-performing analytics that fit seamlessly with your brand and UX, go for Embeddable.

“Embeddable is the first tool I’ve seen where it’s so straightforward to work with the data and build charts. It feels like the heaving lifting is done once I finish modeling my data.” — Adeola Morren, founder of iBenjamen Studio. 

2. Sigma Embedded Analytics

An example dashboard built on Sigma for a business called EnzymaTech
 If you’re familiar with spreadsheets, you can probably build a dashboard on Sigma. It uses a very similar interface. Source: Sigma

Sigma is a cloud-based data visualization and modeling platform—in other words, another business intelligence tool with embedding capabilities. However, it’s a mature tool with a shallow learning curve, which is what earned its spot on our shortlist of Preset alternatives. 

Sigma also: 

  • Connects to a big range of data warehouses and SQL databases, including Redshift, Snowflake, BigQuery, and MySQL
  • Supports RLS and single sign-on (SSO) options 
  • Has a visualization library with different chart types for building simple dashboards

The interface is similar to most spreadsheet tools, so you can build dashboards without any coding experience. And it embeds using an iframe, just the same as Preset does.

The downside is, you can’t edit charting components in code and Sigma has a fairly opinionated UI. So, there's a good chance your embeds will feel foreign to the rest of your app.

What users say about Sigma

Sigma gets a good reputation for being user-friendly. But for many users, it’s still lacking a few features and customization options.

“Sigma helps you join datasets and transform them within the platform from different sources. But, it has no in-depth documentation and you need to find workarounds for many use cases, such as: heatmaps.” — Aayushi P., Sigma user
“A great customer support with ease of integration and ease of implementation. Some features are lacking in Sigma as compared to the current business use case. Some more chart types also with some feature requests are waiting.” — Vivrant Deshkar, Sigma user
“Sigma has been such a breeze to implement. The tool is growing so some of the more sophisticated formatting and data visualizations aren’t available (yet). There are functions to add custom visualizations if you have the resources to write that code." — Cassie F., Sigma user

Sigma pricing

Sigma doesn’t publish a pricing model on the website. However, users report paying around  $1,000 per creator per year. As far as we know, that cost may include unlimited viewers

So, if you have a small team needing to edit dashboards but many more viewers, it could be cost-effective.

     |  Do you know how much Sigma costs? Let us know and we’ll update this article! 

Sigma Embedded Analytics vs Preset Embedded Dashboards

The main differences between Preset and Sigma are:

  • Sigma is more user-friendly according to reports from users
  • Preset could get more costly for businesses with more people viewing than creating dashboards. The embedding license only includes 50 viewers, while Sigma may offer unlimited viewers.
  • Both Sigma and Preset embed using an iframe which negatively  impacts loading speeds and the general user experience.
Pro tip:  If you want a tool that’s user-friendly from the get-go, that’s Sigma. It’s also worth getting a quote from Sigma if you expect to have more dashboard viewers than creators.

That said, Preset does beat Sigma when it comes to customization. You can’t edit everything in code, but you do get access to Apache Superset’s open source library of charts and graphs.

3. Explo

Example dashboard from Explo showing monthly sales data
Explo users can choose to embed using iframe or web component. Source: Explo

Explo is a purpose-built embedded analytics platform. Unlike Preset, Sigma, and other popular BI tools, it’s designed with end-users in mind rather than internal business users.

Here’s what you need to know about Explo:

  • It embeds using either iframe or web component 
  • Its visualization library is less corporate than other traditional BI tools
  • Users can download and configure reports as well as view dashboards
  • Building dashboards is easy with the no-code builder
  • It integrates with relational databases and offers enterprise-level security

While Explo’s graphs are aesthetically pleasing and customizable to a degree, it’s worth noting that you still won’t be able to make them feel like a native part of your application. You can’t bring in your own charts either. It’s a good quick fix for modern visuals but not the best solution for a fully bespoke analytics experience. 

Explo pricing

Explo has a free version, but you can only use it for internal BI. On the surface, it seems like a cost-effective solution, given that each plan comes with unlimited users and viewers included. 

But Explo’s pricing scales based on how many ‘templates’ and ‘customer groups’ you want.* One user we interviewed remarked that the pricing structure “would bankrupt any big company”and is much better suited to smaller businesses.

  • Pricing for embedded dashboards starts at $695 per month (with Explo branding on your visualizations and limited templates)
  • The Pro plan starts at $1,995 per month with white-labeling and 25 ‘customer groups’. It offers unlimited templates and data schemas but the pricing scales up on a tiered basis from here
  • Quote on request for Enterprise plans

*With Explo, you segment your dashboards and charts according to ‘customer groups’. Within each group, you might have different numbers of users and dashboards. For example, if you’re an ecommerce platform, you could create one customer group per retailer.

What users say about Explo

Users like that Explo is easy to use and a modern alternative to traditional BI solutions. However, you won’t have control over the code, so there’s a limit to how much you can customize your charts and dashboards.

“Not the end of the world for us since it still looks great, but it would be nice to have more styling customization/control.”  — Lucas Howard, Explo user
“[At times] I feel constrained with how I want to use my data because of a mismatch between how I have it structured and how it would interact best with the Explo product, but if you have a handle on SQL then there's a lot of room to work around that divergence." — Sid Sutton, Junior Software Engineer at Alpharank

Explo vs Preset Embedded Dashboards

If you’re choosing between Preset and Explo, consider these factors:

  • Explo supports web component embedding which should give you a smoother, faster UX than Preset’s iframe embedding
  • Preset is built on open-source Apache Superset so you’ll have a bigger pool of visualizations to choose from and customize. However, neither tool gives you complete freedom to edit the code
  • Preset will likely be more affordable at scale depending on your needs with regards to number of users and viewers
  • Like most out-of-the-box solutions, Explo has a fairly opinionated UI. However, its visualizations are less corporate in design.
Pro tip: If customization isn’t too much of a priority for you, Explo is easy to use and quick to deploy with no-code dashboard builders. If your team has the resources to get to grips with Preset, you may find it more flexible than Explo. 

4. Metabase Embedded

Metabase company-wide KPI dashboard showing metrics like MoM Revenue
Metabase is easy to use if you’re satisfied with very simple dashboards and queries. Source: Metabase

Metabase is a BI platform with the option to host on-premise or on the cloud. It prides itself on being low-code, with no knowledge of SQL required to build charts and dashboards. Its embedding product, Metabase Embedded, supports static or “interactive” embedding via iframe.

With interactive embedding, your end users essentially get the full BI tool right there in your application. That’s a powerful thing, but could be overwhelming, especially if they don’t have a background in analytics. Getting familiar with a full BI tool has a steep learning curve.

However, for basic queries, Metabase is known for its user-friendly interface.  It can also process complex data through SQL scripts and interactive visualizations. But non-technical users say it’s much more difficult to get actionable insights on complex data.

What users say about Metabase

For simple dashboards, Metabase is very low-code and easy to use. However, some users report slow loading speeds and limited visualization capabilities.

“It’s easy to use and cheap. I believe for more complex analysis you’ll need a more robust system like Tableau. Can be slow to load a lot of data but you can work on that in the infrastructure side.”  — Fernando P., Head of Customer Experience 
“Metabase's data visualization features are a step or two below the top competitors on the market. In addition, using more complex datasets and functions will slow down and cut into the reliability of the tool.” — Jared C., Business Data Analyst and Metabase user.
“Sharing could [be] done through public links which I consider dangerous because you have no control over who can access that data, as long as they have the link. I've avoided [building dashboards] as much as possible, as I found it too complicated and with way too few options."  — Aura P., Head of BI

Metabase pricing

If you’re on a very small budget, it’s worth knowing that Metabase has an open source offering. However, for whitelabel visualizations, you’ll need a Pro or Enterprise plan. 

The Pro plan starts at  $500 for 10 users per month. After that, users cost $10 per user/month. So, if you need to give 250 users access to analytics, that’s $3,000 monthly.

Metabase Embedded Analytics vs Preset Embedded Dashboards

Here’s how they compare:

  • Metabse is very user-friendly with a no-code builder for simple dashboards and queries. 
  • Preset is more customizable when it comes to visualizations—and has more granular security settings.
  • Metabase is more cost-efficient at $10 per user vs Preset’s $20 per user. Plus, Preset’s  free trial doesn’t include embedding. So, if you want to beta test embedded dashboards, you could start with Metabase and consider another tool later.
  • Like Preset, Metabase is built on top of an open source tool. Just know that if you use it for free, your visualizations will say “Powered by Metabase” and you’ll need to self host it.
  • Both use iframe embedding and have an opinionated UI, like most embedded BI solutions.
Pro tip: Preset doesn’t give you full customization, but it is a little more flexible than Metabase, particularly when it comes to security. However, if you need a cheap solution that’s very easy to use at a basic level, consider Metabase.

What about custom-built embedded analytics?

We’ve talked about some of the best embedding solutions on the market. But almost all share a common flaw: limited customization options and opinionated UI.

With customer-facing analytics, you want as little friction for the end user as possible. That way, they can use the data to its full potential and get a positive impression of your solution. Unfortunately, most out-of-the box embedding tools will feel foreign to your app. Because they are!

We know, from years of running Trevor.io, just how complicated and expensive building analytics experience can be. That’s exactly why we built Embeddable: to save you the “build vs buy” headache. 

Embeddable gives you full customization freedom, since all the code lives in your git repo. It also uses web component embedding (no iframes) for a more seamless UX. All that, and you can still deploy analytics experiences in 10% of the time it would take to build from scratch.

If you’re curious about Embeddable: Request the developer docs.

How to choose your embedded analytics solution

If you’re having doubts about using Preset for embedded analytics, here’s a quick guide to choosing an alternative:

  • For fully-bespoke user-facing analytics, try Embeddable. It’s the only option that gives you complete control of the UX through code. It’s also lightning-fast with next-gen embedding (no clunky iframes). Even so, it’s faster (and ultimately cheaper) than building a custom experience from scratch. 
  • For a user-friendly all-round BI tool, go for Sigma. Sigma’s biggest drawback is iframe embedding (read: foreign-feeling embeds and clunky UX). However, if embedded analytics is only one aspect of your use case, and you really want a user-friendly BI tool, Sigma could work for you.
  • If you want to move fast with a purpose-built tool, Explo could be the one. It doesn’t give you control over the code, but its visualizations are varied and less corporate than most BI tools. Customers report that the pricing model can be prohibitive so make sure to calculate what you’d be paying before committing.. 
  • To keep it very simple and low budget, consider Metabase. Of all the internal BI solutions, it’s one of the more affordable and user-friendly options (provided you don’t go down the ‘interactive embedding’ route and don’t need to process complex data). However, you’ll be compromising on UX as it has an opinionated UI.

As you can see, most out-of-the-box solutions aren’t fit for purpose if you want native-feeling, remarkable analytics experiences that load fast and empower your end-users. Almost all use iframe embedding, give you little or no access to the code, and have very opinionated UI.

That’s why we built Embeddable. We combined the flexibility of custom-built analytics with the simplicity of a plug-and-play tool. The difference is you own the code while we handle the backend—all at a flat monthly price.

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

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