Before exploring open-source dashboard tools, we first need to learn about Dashboards and how they can be useful.
A dashboard is a data visualization and management tool that visually tracks and analyzes the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), business analytics metrics, infrastructure health and status, and data points for an organization, team, or process. It can be used to present operational and analytical business data with interactive data visualizations to your team. Dashboards can aid the senior leaders, executives, and engineers to establish targets, analyze progress, monitor their infrastructure, and implement appropriate changes. Infrastructure monitoring with dashboards is critical to identify and record important metrics for systems in use. Be it physical, virtual or cloud, it also helps plan for up-gradation of outdated systems with minimum downtime or inconvenience to users and customers.
Now that we know a little more about dashboards, it's time to see what features we should look out for in a dashboard. You can also get right onto a MetricFire free trialand start comparing it with the others.
A dashboard tool should be easy to use and learn. It should have a simple interface to create and manage dashboards, that doesn’t require understanding of code.
Different users might need different sizes, arrangements, and types of tools on their dashboard. A dashboard tool must be easily customized to fit the requirements of the user.
Every project and organization experiences growth with time. It is not efficient to keep changing the required tools after each phase of growth. A good tool needs to scale to match the growth of the project and it should provide tools that can accommodate the growth.
A good tool needs to be integrable with other tools and databases available in the market.
The tool should be extendable to incorporate new requirements of a project. Extendability is created by allowing for plugins.
Modularity allows different parts of the dashboard to function independently of each other, which makes the dashboard more efficient and easier to use. Compact modules help improve the overall aesthetics of the dashboard - making it look cleaner and less cluttered.
If a user is using the dashboard to handle sensitive and private data, there should be enough security measures provided by the tool to make the data secure.
Not all dashboard tools provide users the ability to export their data. Users who prefer to export their dashboard data to use it elsewhere should look out for the tools that allow data exporting and the supported formats.
Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s start our voyage into the deep waters of dashboarding.
Let's start with a dashboard that boasts its simplicity and ease-of-use as its best features. Freeboard is a simple, open-source dashboard tool that allows users to create and customize real-time interactive dashboards. It is primarily designed to be used with IoT devices and is ideal for organizations and individuals working with web apps, external devices, or sensors. We really liked the easy to use drag and drop interface provided by Freeboard along with the free and paid hosted options for personal and team access to dashboards.
Next up is the dashboard tool made for non-technical users. Available under the Apache v2.0 License, Dashbuilder is a fully featured web app dashboard tool that allows users to create deployment-ready dashboards through a visual interface. It is a Java-based tool that creates highly customizable dashboards. The newer rewritten version, UF Dashbuilder, has more features and an even better user Interface. It's a great tool for business activity monitoring.
Unlike the other dashboards, Stashboard was written originally to provide information regarding phones and communication APIs. Stashboard is a tool used to create dashboards providing status information about cloud services and APIs. It is a great tool, ideally for small to medium-sized businesses that use cloud services or API and need to track the status of these services.
Re: Dash is an open-source dashboard tool that allows users to connect their data sources and visualize data on a single platform. It boasts a large collection of integrated databases, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, Google BigQuery, Graphite, ElasticSearch, MongoDB, Presto, InfluxDB, and many more.
Boasting one of the most active developer communities with over 900 active developers and 30k stars on Github, Grafana is a powerful, feature-rich data visualization tool that allows users to create, explore, and share dashboards. Written mostly in Go and Typescript, it is used primarily to monitor server/architecture health, but can also be used for different types of data visualization or metrics dashboards. It is useful for any business owner or individual looking for a visualization tool to analyze business metrics, but is most commonly used for infrastructure monitoring.
Representing the K in the world's leading log management platform, the ELK stack, Kibana is a powerful open-source data navigation and visualization application. It provides users the ability to monitor and manage their ElasticStack data. It is a great tool for anyone that desires to use Elasticsearch or the ELK stack to manage their data.
It’s time to meet the brother of one of the most beautiful dashboard tools, the now discontinued, Dashing. Dubbed the spiritual successor to Dashing by its developers, Smashing is a Sinatra based Dashboard tool that allows users to create aesthetically exceptional dashboards. Smashing provides users with comprehensive documentation, including a large variety of examples.
Metricfire is a premium infrastructure monitoring platform that provides cloud-based infrastructure and application monitoring capabilities using open source tools. It provides users with a plethora of business & infrastructure metrics using Hosted Prometheus or Graphite on beautifully crafted Grafana dashboards. Check out their Website to find out more about MetricFire. Get a free trial and start making MetricFire dashboards right away. Feel free to book a demo if you have questions about what MetricFire can do for you.
We explored a large variety of dashboard tools in our journey; dashboards meant for different purposes, providing different features, handling different types of data, and suitable for different types of users. No dashboard is perfect for everyone. Each one has its pros and cons. Find out what features are more important to your work, and choose the desktop that suits you the most.
This article was co-written by Nikhil Maan, & Vipul Gupta.
Vipul Gupta and Nikhil Maan are open-source developers and writers at Mixster. Mixster is an initiative with an aim to write better content for the open web. Starting back in 2017, we have collaborated and worked with early-stage startups, major open-source organizations, and on projects just like with the amazing folks at MetricFire. Let’s connect!