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Google Data Studio (google.com)
512 points by mkalygin on Oct 10, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments

There are dozens of things like this now, so Google is pretty late to the game. I suspect that the play here is to keep people in the Google ecosystem by competing with Amazon on product offerings.

Having looked at a lot of these things, here's the criteria I use to evaluate these kinds of services -

1/ How easy is it to get data in?

2/ Is my data safe?

3/ How easy is authoring?

4/ Does it support pivots?

5/ Can I model joins?

6/ Does it support dashboard-wide filters?

7/ Does it support complex time comparisons?

If a service checks those boxes, it's actually ready to get deployed. In the case of Google Data Studio:

1 - Seems standard. 2 - Doesn't use SSL, major red flag. 3 - [EDIT] seems decent, see demo in reply. 4 - Can't tell from the website or examples, red flag. 5 - [EDIT] it cant, see reply 6 - Many examples of this in the gallery. 7 - No examples, red flag.

I'd rate this as pretty mediocre. The people building these products tend to overrate flashiness of dashboards and lose focus on the actual workflow of analysts and those they are helping support. Most of the things I see in the gallery examples are great eye candy but mostly worthless for actually managing a business week-to-week.

Maybe it's different in other companies but I feel that an effective dashboard tells me:

- How I did (last week, trailing 30 days, QTD, YTD)

- ... relative to how I did before (vs comp time period)

- ... relative to my goals

- And a breakout of the drivers of that performance.

Pie charts of demographic breakdowns or measures from some arbitrary date range just aren't useful tools. They're something you look at once and then never revisit.

After some of the product shutdowns by Google I feel like there's a huge risk building your visualizations on this product.

There are so many alternative ways to achieve the same goal for free or very low cost that unless Google has some secret sauce the product will probably be dead in a few years causing headaches for anyone relying on them.

I don't understand how people keep bringing up Google product shutdowns as if literally half their products get discontinued. Yes, there are a couple, but that's because they have so many more products than any other company. I'm sure if you looked at it percentage wise, they're actually probably on the lower end compared to most other companies.

Obviously if you make thousands and thousands of products, then a couple will eventually have to be dropped. Can you even name me 5 big products they've ended which had a huge impact.

I don't understand how people keep bringing up Google product shutdowns as if literally half their products get discontinued

Even if you don’t, I hope Google understands it, and then learns from it. Wanna take a guess at why Microsft kept FoxPro around for so long? One of the reasons was if MS axed it, they’d lose those developers, many forever. Not until they had a good transition story that utilized MS products could they dare discontinue it. And to this day some will still say MS bought Fox Software for the tech and killed FoxPro...despite it being kept around for over ten years.

Point being, MS did the right thing by FoxPro in my eyes, and it is still used as an example of MS discontinuing products. Google has most definitely not done right by some products, so perhaps that will help you understand why people keep bringing it up.

A company I used to work for still uses FoxPro to this day. A friend of mine at another company is still using VB6 for their core app (though they are planning a rewrite in .NET/C#.) Give Microsoft a hand - their discontinued wares still manage to work on the latest Windows releases. Sure, Google’s offerings are online, so there’s an ongoing cost associated with keeping the lights on, but if Google wants companies to trust them, it’s going to have to stop discontinuing products when they get bored with them.

> Wanna take a guess at why Microsft kept FoxPro around for so long? One of the reasons was if MS axed it, they’d lose those developers, many forever.

Still they axed Silverlight only a few years after they launched it. Lots and lots of enterprisey stuff was built with it and then all that stuff was suddenly unsupported.

>there are a couple, but that's because they have so many more products than any other company. I'm sure if you looked at it percentage wise, they're actually probably on the lower end compared to most other companies.

First cut from just checking Wikipedia. Number of google services: 117. Number of discontinued google services: 43.

So what's that.. about 40%?

If 117 is the number of currently active google services, that's 43 / (43 + 117), so about 27%.

Still a lot, though.

Ah thanks, missed that!

A better metric would be average lifetime of a product, otherwise comparing companies with different ages is meaningless. Of course, you have to do something to account for products that haven't yet been killed.

I'd say 0, since eyeballing the list almost none of them seem to be B2B type products.

This is by far the most pervasive comment on HN regarding Google ("Oh, they launched something, don't use it because they will retire it soon. Look what happened to Reader!"). Its also completely misleading when applied to Google Cloud Platform which has been around for almost 9 years now without deprecating any service.

Disclaimer: I work for Google Cloud Platform

>I'd say 0, since eyeballing the list almost none of them seem to be B2B type products.

If moving the goalposts is allowed then fair enough, it can be any number you choose.

>This is by far the most pervasive comment on HN regarding Google ("Oh, they launched something, don't use it because they will retire it soon. Look what happened to Reader!").

Yes, hello, reality calling - Google has a PR problem, as a direct result of canceling services. This PR problem is bleeding into their commercial offerings precisely because of their reliance and cultivation of grassroots, technology-minded consumer mind share. "Man, I killed all those bees but for some reason now my honey production has dropped right off. Could there be a connection???"

Someone did not properly cost this into the decision to terminate those services, and it's now biting the organization. It should be.

He's not moving the goalposts. This thread is about a b2b product, which he claims are unlikely to be shut down. If you're trying to extrapolate about a b2b product from past experience about free software, you should justify that.

Specifically it is a dashboard creator b2b product. I bet the google shutdown rate on that is pretty good!

Sarcasm aside, by narrowing the results the goalposts are indeed shifted.

Is it a shift or a correction?

Google's cloud offerings are generally going to have more robust SLA's attached to them, that include various guarantees wrt. service deprecation, that probably compare with other vendors in the same space.

So I do think "moving goalposts" here is probably right. Comparing Reader, Buzz or Google Code to GCP offerings probably is an apples to oranges comparison. In other words, not very useful.

This comes across as a somewhat hysterical response to a fairly measured comment ("Yes, hello, reality calling").

That doesn't feel like the HN ethos. People working for any company should feel comfortable posting here, without feeling like they are the subject of a witch hunt imho.

I think your calling that response hysterical is itself a bit hysterical.

Google Maps Engine was B2B example, so your "0" is incorrect

Google Search Appliances, too.

And Google ruined one of the most useful assistant features. They may have well shut it down:


That's something that irks me endlessly :-(

I've stopped recommending the Home the people because of this. It may seem minor, but the shopping list -> Keep was the simplest, most useful feature that Home had, and Google managed to ruin it.

And Google Site Search

Used gCSE as a primary add-on service across a few hundred sites. The twilighting of the product was a major hiccup in our business.

Through Google Apps there was once a custom URL shortener service ( Google Short Links) that I used to track and shorten hundreds of affiliate links and perform a manner of A/B testing. They sunsetted that service breaking all those links ( and considerable cashflow)

If you dig deep into Adwords or Doubleclick Knowledge base its fairly common to come across broken links, outdated information.

Was a big fan of the Picasa product as I took the time to tag and categorize a huge library of photos which has been long since pulled into Google Photos ( a superior service, but I liked the option of local management for more private photos)

I am very reliant on Google products and services and have been for about a decade. I generally expect that services will disappear, customer service will be non-existent or consist of a series of clueless email from all across the globe. Spend a half million in Adwords, Partner Agency, previously Engage partner - the staff they push on you on that side mostly seem as if they wanted different jobs and generally provide completely dense suggestions (knowledge of adwords interface but no real business acumen ) Adsense! Was once getting between $100-$400 a day in adsense results. All disappeared over night for as single event of clickfraud (likely from a competitor aiming for exactly that result). They even cancelled the last check they sent.

Generally,I've found not worth adopting a G product without an easy exit option or known replacement service.

Even the core search product has suffered but many wouldn't notice - many advanced operators were dropped or limited, regional selection in advanced options minimized, very precise searches made ineffective due to lack of use.

Just meant to say, boy cancelling Google custom search sucked and then reminded how many otherwise Ive been screwed by my reliance.

And Google Checkout

I am pretty sure the appliance is not discontinued.

Fair point but neither of these fall under GCP, which GDS does.

That was the point about "shifting goalposts" that was mentioned above.

You can always categorize it different and claim it’s a different story now.

But that won’t convince any customers.

I specifically said products that made a big impact. Look at those 43 services on that list, and tell yourself, would you have engineers waste precious time maintaining that service which hardly get used, or would you rather have them spend said time on developing on newer better tool that have a much bigger impact?

It's not always an easy decision, but my point is that there's a balance to be hit here. There are definitely time where discontinuing products is the right choice and the time is much better spent working on something else. I'd argue that a company which NEVER discontinues anything no matter how old and unused it is is a company that won't go far.

>I don't understand how people keep bringing up Google product shutdowns as if literally half their products get discontinued.

Because it feels like half of their products DO get discontinued.

And because it doesn't matter if it's half or not. As if 20% would be a better number?

One would be foolish to fully trust any company that shut down 1-2 products they were using.

But it would take a special kind of stupid to trust new products by Google who has shut down over a dozen of their products, including widely promoted ones, from Glass and Wave to Video, Reader and so on.

Again, you say "feels" like, and I agree it's a common trope that shows up in almost every single Google thread, which is why I explicitly asked for people to name real products that are gone. I'm actually curious how many people can even remember or name, because to me, it has become more of a myth than reality.

Indeed, I see them as middle of the road. In my very anecdotal perception, by order of 'less reliable' to 'most reliable' in terms of product continuity, of the big 5 my list goes as follows:

1. Apple (Aperture, "Smart" features from OSX absent from iOS, APIs that force almost complete re-writes, generally culling of PC/corporate friendly products such as Server etc).

2. Facebook, seems like they experiment a lot (which is good) but too often fail to label things as beta. And they change 'features' way too often for my taste (I seldom use their services so far, at least on a personal level).

3. Google (Google Read for news strikes me as the biggest loss personally, my news were never the same afterwards as I never considered putting in so much time carefully selecting RSS feeds etc. if they could go away just like that; eventually I don't even read most news anymore). They have a less-than-stellar record on mobile apps, but then again that's a moving sector where it's hard to be consistent over "LTS" kind of periods.

4. Microsoft, but at this point I have to commend how much long-term support they put into most of their products, sometimes it's even too much to have to put up with legacy features that hinder modern paradigms (particularly on Windows 10, ofc).

5. Amazon, simply because I've yet to encounter a case of product/service being put out of service.

I wonder who agrees/disagrees around here.

It only takes one product you relied on heavily, to make sure you never get locked in like that again.

> Can you even name me 5 big products they've ended which had a huge impact.

- Analog Efex Pro

- Color Efex Pro

- Silver Efex Pro

- Viveza

- HDR Efex Pro

- Sharpener Pro

- Dfine

These were big products? Hasn't Photoshop advanced to the point that these plugins are no longer needed?

People also bring it up for products like this, which is related tangentially to Ads or google cloud offerings. Google is not going to shut something like this down that enhances their revenue

>Google is not going to shut something like this down that enhances their revenue

Right now this product is losing substantial amounts of money, we're talking on the order of tens of millions USD per year. If the net present cost of support exceeds the net present value of the product revenue stream Google has every right to cull it. It's their prerogative as a business.

My prerogative as a business consumer (when I am in that position) makes me wary of being reliant on the whims of a multi-billion dollar company whose primary revenues are generated from ads for my analytics needs.

It's quite possible Google Data Studio is going to be the next big thing for the company, it's just as possible it doesn't get the desired traction and ends up culled from their offerings.

Replace 'Google' with the name of any of the other startups (or larger companies) in this space and it makes just as much sense.

Not really. Proven trackrecords matter.

Also, Google can shut down this product without thinking twice. A company that has it as their sole product however, can't.

That's a huge difference.

Startups fold or get bought and shutdown their product all the time.

With Google you usually get a year heads-up before your API disappears

Sure, both scenarios are not ideal, and there are usually other very good reasons to prefer the non-Google solution. But it's not like going with Google is a horrible mistake that would leave you SOL.

> (or larger companies) in this space

That's what I'm responding to.

Of course startups can be far worse. Goes without saying.

According to the above poster, Google has killed 27% of their products. Way more than 27% of startups don't make it.

It feels like that's only part of the story though. What's key is which products get killed, and very simply it's anything that doesn't directly make money or indirectly make money by locking you in to Google's core offering. That's perfectly fine, and wholly understandable, but it means products like this data studio that don't directly relate to ads, publishing or mapping are likely to get killed in the future. When people suggest not using it for fear it'll disappear one day they're making what appears to be, to me at least, a rational decision.

> (or larger companies) in this space

That's what I'm responding to.

Of course startups can be far worse. Goes without saying.

You mentioned companies with only one product, aka startups.

> companies with only one product, aka startups.

from the top of my head:

http://renoise.com/ https://www.gpsoft.com.au/ https://www.ultraedit.com/

Incidentally, they're the best in their respective fields I know of. They don't make products, they don't make product, they make and improve these particular applications. I would LOVE them to expand and make, say, clothing and hair gel with that same intelligent, no-nonsense craftsmanship approach. Not to mention operating systems and search engines. For now I'll dream of Directory Opus for Linux and not even get that.

I don't think this necessarily follows. There are established companies with long track records who specialise in one area.

So you're saying this should be treated just like a risky product from a no-name startup? That's a pretty sad place to have your product valued when you're in the position of a large company.

Exactly what I thought. Why would you choose to build anything sizeable on something that could be shut down?

Google typically only shuts down Services that already have very low user counts relative to their bigger offerings. Reader was a huge exception, though its closing was more of a migration (to Google+) than a shutdown and it was done under the pretense of moving people to G+.

Do we have something similar from AWS?

An authoring demo I wrote the day Data Studio went public:

- https://medium.com/google-cloud/showing-off-the-new-free-goo...

Feature wise Data Studio has improved a lot since that day, and will continue to do so.

(but just try it out, it's free https://datastudio.google.com/)

> 5/ Can I model joins?

They have been saying this is a top requested feature and it is coming for ~2 years. Its a serious limitation.

I don’t get why no ssl? You almost have to go out of your way to not support it.

I'm not sure where the author gets that. This demo uses SSL: https://datastudio.google.com/reporting/0B_U5RNpwhcE6SF85TEN...

All Google products use SSL anyway.

If I’ve understood, they’re talking about the psql database connections, not the website URL.

Unless your data is pretty small, you'll be wanting it in bigquery not postgres anyway.

Pardon the curtness but "Your data isn't big enough for security" is the stupidest justification I've heard yet.

BI/Analytics is a tricky area with many sub-areas.

I'm relatively new to this field and I found the value of the solution is how it can connect various business workflows instead of just focused on building dashboards.

For example: typical BI tools only focused on Visualizations (most mentioned here only support that and a bit of "Insight"). This alone is not enough because business activities around BI would require forecasting/predictive and planning (and potentially Risk Assessment).

Disclaimer: I work for a business-unit that develop Analytics solution that covered those business activities (https://www.sapanalytics.cloud/product/).

Dashboards Grafana and Kibana enable a lot of clients to self host and create the exact dashboards they need, per customer, per employee etc. Storing stats and data in elasticsearch, influxdb etc etc.

What is the best-in-class of these things?

I use and recommend metabase and redash. Metabase is more polished and easier for business folks. But redash supports more data sources (hive for instance).

Both are open source and in my opinion can fill about 80% of dashboards and ad hoc analysis for a small to medium company. The other 20 % your company must be rich enough to buy Tableau or rich enough to build its own solution.

https://www.metabase.com https://redash.io

Not sure what kind of organizations you have seen, but Metabase/Redash would max cover 20-30% of the use and Tableau 80%. It depends a lot on the type of data you have, but anything beyond sql will not work with Metabase or Redash.

I think it depends of the organization. Most companies still use something similar to a DW/DL that speaks SQL, so Metabase/Redash still cover this.

Tableau is awesome, but I believe that most of its features are not used soo often. A simpler tool can provide almost the same or more value than Tableau in some cases. Well, a tool that you don't need to pay expensive licenses for each user makes it more democratic, everyone on the organization can visualize and create new analysis.

But it really doesn't. People will try to do simple calculations as they are used to do in Excel and they will quickly find out they can't do much beyond a simple pivot. Everybody I have see using Tableau is using calculations and a lot of them even LOD calculations. Do this exercise, check what business people really do with Metabase and Resash, I have a feeling they use them to download data into Excel...

I totally agree we need something cheap and simple, but it must have some level of "functional" calculations a la excel. Now if users were exposed a pandas dataframe in Superset or Redash or other, that would be extremely cool and would for some cases be much better than Tableau.

> 7/ Does it support complex time comparisons? No examples, red flag.

Can Metabase do this? I struggled to get a This Year vs Last Year chart without messing with the underlying data.

Is there a good book on Metabase out there?

yes it is, as long as you can represent it in SQL.

for instance, for a query like:

select day_of_year, year, count(*) from orders where year >= 2016 group by day_of_year, year

you can create a line visualization that will display the different years as different lines in about 2 or 3 clicks.

AFAIK, there is no book for Metabase. But the documentation and the project is really straightforward.

+1 for Metabase. I'm currently running a pilot project with it at work, and everyone seems to love it so far. The UI is simple enough that even "common" (as in technophobic) employees feel comfortable using it!

From a capabilities perspective, Tableau and Power BI have everything and the kitchen sink. But they tend to be $$$$ because of licensing costs, paying for extras, and because you need lots and lots of training for devs, analysts, and end users. Oh, and practically Windows only.

There's a new generation of these tools that started web-first. They don't have all the bells and whistles but the learning curve is way lower. So far none have truly stand ahead of the rest but there are some promising ones. But because you almost always need a dev-in-the-loop, almost every company needing a tool like this starts with a DIY open source solution.

Sorry for having to say the "cliche" answer "It depends"...But it really "depends"

It depends on the requirements like 1. requirements for having a self host version or acceptance of having cloud offering 2. data connector requirements (not all products will have native connectors to all data sources) 3. data blending requirements (not all products will have data blending capabilities to the same tune) 4. data size requirements (some support data in MBs, some can support data in PB's) 5. Programming knowledge requirements (some may have only non technical users using the product, some may have technical users who need finer control) 6. Visualisation options 7. Various Reproting options (some may have pdf export option, while some others may not have this) ....and the list is really long

There are a large number of parameters in deciding to choose a BI/Reporting solution

One can probably pickup a particular requirement and evaluate the best in class for that requirement. There is no one solution which excels in every single field.

Tableau has been the leader in the market for long.

And the list of offerings is endless From traditional Tableau, Looker, Sisense, Qlikview to modern POwerBi, Domo, Tableau online, Data Studio, Bime analytics

From open source solutions like redash.io, airbnb superset, pendaho, jasperreports to closed source solutions like crystal reports...

From simple tools like cyfe , to extremely complex ones

From generic solutions to industry specific solutions like Baremetrics (For stripe analysis), and my own ReportDash (for marketing reports)

If you want something that's affordable, yet can serve the full need of what open-source tools can't, do check us out - https://www.holistics.io

We've worked with both small, medium to big tech unicorns. I built the product during my role as data engineer at previous tech startup's employer (we got acquired), so we understood well what are the features desired by SME/startup.

"I'd rate this as pretty mediocre."

Most of what you are saying is unsubstantiated.

It does use SSL (just like all Google products). Where did you gather that it wasn't using it? And what do you mean by "complex time comparisons"? There are examples of time series comparisons in the demos.

> Most of what you are saying is unsubstantiated.

You're welcome to your opinion.

> 1/ How easy is it to get data in? Seems standard.

It supports a MySQL adapter and a PostgreSQL adapter and then a bunch of Google property adapaters. This is standard.

> 2/ Is my data safe? Doesn't use SSL, major red flag.

The PostgreSQL adapter doesnt use SSL (https://support.google.com/datastudio/answer/7288010?hl=en&r...). This is a showstopper.

> 3/ How easy is authoring? [EDIT] seems decent, see demo in reply.

You can see Felipe's demo here and make your own assessment. https://medium.com/google-cloud/showing-off-the-new-free-goo...

> 4/ Does it support pivots? Can't tell from the website or examples, red flag.

If you find an example I'd love to see it. My expectation at a bare minimum is a table view with a dimension down the left, a dimension across the top, and a measure in the cells. I looked through all the examples and did not see a clear example of a pivot.

> 5/ Can I model joins? [EDIT] it cant, see reply

It can't. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15446616

> 6/ Does it support dashboard-wide filters? Many examples of this in the gallery

Most of the examples in the gallery use this feature.

> 7/ Does it support complex time comparisons? No examples, red flag.

Here's a couple very basic examples of what I'm talking about.

- Plug an TY date range into the dashboard filter. Get a view that shows you TY performance in that range vs LY

- Filter the dashboard using calendar dates, display using fiscal dates.

The rest is written from my personal experiences. If your experiences are different, I'm open to hearing about it. Feel free to email me if you'd prefer.

As someone who has been watching Data studio for long, I can vouch that most of the observations here is true.

Currently this connector does not support SSL. Be careful with the data you send.


I happen to build a competing service.

Yours is a great list. Have saved it instantly! Thank You for that.

Joins are not supported, although its been on the todo since its ever went public beta.

I've setup a few (more or less standard) data warehouses in Redshift. Prefer SQL for data exploration.

That being said, I've used GDS for a few months now, and it has a lot of mid-market potential, since it pulls data from Google Analytics, Adwords, & Youtube out of the box, and, is completely free.

I say "mid-tier" because, for large-scale but relatively simple use-cases (I work on a v. large e-commerce site for a large multi-national, some scale but not the most complex setup I've worked with). While you're "in the ecosystem", you're abstracted from a number of complex issues, like data quality, ingestion jobs, ETL, normalization, etc. HUGE deal for a lot of folks transitioning "into the big leagues".

Commercial-off-the-shelf solutions for a lot of the products companies use are supported by the big ETL startups (Fivetran, Alooma, Stitch Data) to BigQuery.

I think their long term goal is to get these mid-tier folks in and standardized on BigQuery. In the future this may become more competitive with Redshift.

It makes sense. They own the bottom tier. Every team gets started these days by getting good at Google Analytics. Then they outgrow it, and move "out of the ecosystem". Eventually, they may be able to build out an ecosystem around BigQuery for data scientists and data science teams, but filling that gap could make them a ton of money.

UX isn't quite where I would like it, but it's getting better. Some small details make the interface confusing, but that's par the course in this domain.

1/ Getting data in is fine, but you're using BQ. Personal preference that is not my favorite tool.

2/ To my knowledge Google Cloud offers the same guarantees and promises as AWS

3/ Authoring is very easy. Perhaps too easy (I would say this is probably one of the best mid-range tools for data vis. I wouldn't say it wins on a feature-by-feature comparison to PowerBI or Tableau).

4/ Partial (limited extent, but w/o writing SQL)

5/ Partial, but not to the extent you would want in a paid tool in this category. Again, no SQL (this is probably a win for some folks, and a minus for others)

6/ Yes. Although it's more like Filters on a whole dashboard or multiple pages of reports in a project.

7/ I've done custom binning, trailing time periods, pretty much everything I would do on a routine basis for data exploration. However, there's no SQL chart authoring, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's something I'm missing here.


Bottom line, if you're mid-tier it's a great free tool to try, especially if you're just a data scientist looking to do something fancy for a Marketing team with Marketing data, who hasn't really been exposed to rigorous analysis in the past. You could easily do the type of exploration to make good decisions about building an attribution model, for example.

Would meet the needs of 99% of companies I've consulted for, if it wasn't for BQ vs. Redshift.

This is really insightful. Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

A lot of my perspective comes from living in a post-GA world. I can see there being value for companies who are reliant on GA and Adwords data for their day-to-day operations - and to be honest, that's probably a lot of people. For someone who isn't as reliant on GA data or already has it in a data warehouse, I can't quite see the justification to use this specific tool. I'll definitely keep an eye on it.

The direct and easy integration with BigQuery seems like a potential "killer app" for Data Studio.

As I read through your list, I feel like our product (https://holistics.io) can serve you well on these fronts

- We are both ETL + BI, we help you get data into your DW easily (CSV Upload, DB Sync, etc)

- Support for dashboard-wide filters, model joins, pivots

For complex time comparison (last week, QTD, YTD) we have metrics spreadsheets: https://docs.holistics.io/metrics/

You can connect Postgres, but not via ssl: https://support.google.com/datastudio/answer/7288010?hl=en&r.... It explicitly says "Be careful with the data you send.". Sounds like something to not connect to your production db.

> Sounds like something to not connect to your production db

With or without SSL, exposing your raw prod data to external services like these is a huge risk. Only ever share filtered and redacted data with external entities.

I think, with Postgres, if you have:

1. A dedicated read-only schema

2. A dedicated user, with only CONNECT to the read-only schema

3. A unique password

4. A dedicated read-only replica DB

you should be safe against pretty much everything.

I'd actually like to be corrected if I'm wrong - this is how I've built numerous externally-facing services.

For non-secured connections, a snooper could still gain full access to all production data.

How? Even with the password for this user, you could still only gain access to the read-only schema.

Something I should have spelled out - the read-only schema has only the data that the charts need (heavily aggregated views). We basically build with the assumption that the schema will be compromised, but only that one schema.

Without ssl all that data can be observed in transit between your read-only schema and the consuming service. There's very low risk to integrity (i.e. nobody can modify data via read-only methods), but complete list of confidentiality.

I think it was related to the "with or without SSL". Obviously the data you send can be intercepted without SSL but no other data (and with SSL not even that).

Not to mention all the potential operational problems it can cause.

At a previous job a new system was deployed to help the customer service team. I can't remember the details, but it was backed by this pretty meaty database so we could collect lots of data for later analysis. The etl processes was delayed for some reason so a couple of people were given 'temporary' access to the production db. Lo and behold, a week later the whole thing mysteriously grinds to a halt as an analyst left some huge query running in the background that locked up all the important tables until an admin can in and kicked them off.

Letting people run arbitrary workloads on a system you want to be stable is a bad idea.

Definitely agree.

Wonder why this is just bubbling to the top now; Data Studio has been out for over a year. Here's 2 previous Hacker News discussions on it:



I'm guessing it's because they recently launched support for 3rd party data connectors.

I'm currently using https://metabase.com/ for this which I've found to be really easy to use. Will be interesting to see how this compares.

Obvious advantage of metabase is that it's all local.

Metabase is great - and another open source dashboard solution I'm a big fan of: https://redash.io/

Data Studio has a different set of strengths: It's the quickest way I can get an interactive viz published with 0 infrastructure needed. Just build your dashboard, add some controls, and publish it to your closest connections privately, or publicly to the whole world. It will scale without any resource allocation on your side.

(disclosure: I'm Felipe Hoffa and I work for Google Cloud https://twitter.com/felipehoffa)

(in a parallel thread, someone else mentions how they use re:dash and Data Studio https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15446296)

Weird, there is no evident link to the source code in the redash.io page, but you can find it if you search: https://github.com/getredash/redash They give you an already configured virtual machine for free, but it doesn't receive bug fixes. The install process must be a mess.

Metabase has a link to their repository in the first page of https://metabase.com/ Just based in this fact I would prefer Metabase.

How do they compare to generate high quality reports?

Install process for redash doesn't look too bad (if you can give it it's own vm): https://raw.githubusercontent.com/getredash/redash/master/se... [ would be easy enough to transform that in to an ansible role ]

Agree metabase wins though: apt-get install openjdk-8-jre-headless && curl http://downloads.metabase.com/v0.26.1/metabase.jar && java -jar metabase.jar

Most people don't care about the source code, but we have a huge link to the setup guide [1] (and there is a link to GitHub in the footer).

Also I'm not sure where you bring the "but it doesn't receive bug fixes" statement from? We have a documented upgrade process [2] for the images you create using our documented setup guide.

[1] https://redash.io/help-onpremise/setup/setting-up-redash-ins... [2] https://redash.io/help-onpremise/maintenance/how-to-upgrade-...

The github link is a really hidden small icon. I probably also don't care about the source, but if it is hidden, it looks like it is difficult to get and/or install.

Your front page says of the paid version: "Don't worry about installations, hosting and upgrades. All plans include a 30-day free trial. No credit card required."

My first impression was that it is hard to upgrade. Maybe not true, but it is what is communicated by the site.

What do you mean by reports?

If by reports you mean a daily email sent with a table and some graphs attached them both suck. The only tool that I know that excels on this is Reporting Services from Microsoft.

But they are really OK for dashboards and visualizations. Metabase has a pulse feature where you can schedule to send a visualization to email or slack, but not something very fancy.

Why do you think Data Studio is quicker or better than Tableau or Power BI at this same scenario?

Frankly it has become table stakes to do that.

I do appreciate your reply though, maybe there are new or differentiated capabilities. Would be interesting to hear.

> I can get an interactive viz published with 0 infrastructure needed. Just build your dashboard, add some controls, and publish it

Note an open source alternative is superset[1] (formerly Panoramix/caravel by airbnb)


I'm actively compiling a list of both commercial & open source BI/ data viz/ ETL tools [1] in case you're interested in getting an overview.



Gartner report on commercial BI/Analytics might be useful to you

Thanks, will go through it on the weekend and make additions!

Added, thanks!

PowerBI, SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services), ELK stack (i.e. Elasticsearch + Logstash + Kibana), Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio (because you have DBeaver on the list)

Thank you, added everything. I was surprised you mentioned the ELK stack as I associate it rather with DevOps and log analysis. Are you aware of a usage in a pure BI context?

That was also mentioned on these discussions:

PopSQL – Modern, collaborative SQL editor for your team | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15377339 (Oct 2017, 49 comments)

>ghh: Other solutions in the `write sql and share the graphs with your team`-space: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15377339

Franchise – An Open-Source SQL Notebook | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15303833 (Sep 2017, 63 comments)

You can't beat Tableau for this sort of task if you're not technically inclined and if you are then you can't beat Shiny. Both offer better and more customizable results. I wonder what the added value of this software is.

It's quite convenient for those of us who already have the relevant data inside Google Cloud Platform (specifically BigQuery for me). I've made a few dashboard/graph-type things in Google Data Studio and they were super simple to set up and powerful enough for my use case.

Disclaimer: I work for Google, but not on Cloud.

I had major problems getting AdWords custom columns working in here which was a deal breaker for me. Too bad since I'd expect AdWords to be fully supported, but then again custom columns aren't really first class citizens in AdWords yet :(

Tableau is great but is also pricey. I like that it can be on-prem which is a nice feature most saas players can't match. They have drivers for tons of sources.

Zoomdata is a good alternative, but pricey and not mature enough I feel.

PowerBI is getting surprisingly good, and if you're a Microsoft or R shop it can be a really nice fit for the price. I've thrown a few 50GB+ CSVs at it. It's basically Excel on steroids. If you're dealing with some data stores (like mongo, elasticsearch) then PowerBI isn't viable natively.

Interesting to note that zoomdata and tableau use spark under the covers iirc.

I don't think Tableau uses spark. They have their own server side data engine (from their earlier acquisition oh HyPer).

You're right that we don't use Spark as our data engine, but we also don't use hyper yet either (well, we do in beta[0] :). Hyper is replacing our existing data engine (conveniently named "Data Engine" [1])

[0] https://www.tableau.com/products/coming-soon

[1] https://research.tableau.com/paper/analytic-data-engine-visu...

Yeah you're right about spark for the processing. I did see a lot of Hadoop binaries in their tableau server (it amused me to see zookeeper.exe in windows task manager) and assumed they were using spark for internal data representation, but that was a false assumption I suppose.

We've started doing a lot of work with PowerBI - and I think "surprisingly good" is apt.

Its got its share of flaws and issues, but for the price I think it beats everything else on the market - especially for existing Office365 customers.

Like Tableau and Shiny it looks great for reports and presentations, but what would you know to get the hang of a new dataset? To visualize some descritive statistics, spot outliers, see missing data?

Maybe it is better to use Python Pandas or R interactively to know more about your data.

Usually a notebook style interface with Juypter / Zeppelin is best for this provided the user has enough capability.

Check out my EasyMorph (http://easymorph.com). It's a hybrid between data prep and ETL -- you manipulate data interactively, yet it can work as an automated workflow. You can even build custom data profilers with it, tailored to your particular metrics of interest.

Easymorph seems cool, thank you.

What does Tableau still have over Microsoft Power BI at this point?

In the beginning Power BI started out pretty weak compared to Tableau, but over a couple years they make huge investments and seem to even be ahead in some areas. For example, it used to be Tableau didn’t support 3rd party or custom visualization, although I haven’t checked recently if that’s changed.

So much development effort is being poured into many of these competitors, any useful comparators have to be pretty new.

Looking at the Gartner report posted above[0], it appears that Power BI has problems with data volumes, support, and (IMO the biggest issue) is it's cloud-only. For some businesses, e.g. healthcare, the lack of an on-premise solution may be a showstopper.

[0]: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2172371/Q1%202017%20Gartner.p...

October 2020: "Google is winding down the Google Data Studio product over the next year, but will provide customer and technical support through the duration of license agreements.”

On this note, Google is about to destroy everyone's Google Finance portfolios in November, without sending any kind of message to users, even as they claim they are relaunching the product.

I didn't find this out until yesterday, I've been out of the US and won't be back until almost November. Google didn't email Google Finance users, they just posted a blurb at the top of the portfolio pages mentioning that if you want to keep your data you should download it.

I at first didn’t believe you, but you’re right, they’re shutting down Finance in only a few weeks for a relaunch without portfolios: https://i.imgur.com/0o4Ehxe.png

Play with a live interactive Data Studio dashboard - the most famous reddit accounts:

- https://datastudio.google.com/org/aLzLLuH1QJC-2sBBmo7qdw/rep...

(the story behind: https://medium.com/@hoffa/the-most-famous-reddit-accounts-c9...)

I've been using this on the backside of Firebase Analytics (aka Google Analytics for Firebase) through the Firebase export to BigQuery. It's a powerful tool, but can be frustrating working with the schema that Firebase uses for BQ export. One thing that drives me nuts is that Data Studio does not alphabetically sort the fields in the attached BigQuery data set. I suppose they are listed in the order they appear in the schema, but wading through 30+ column names looking for the one you want is a pain when they're not sorted.

If you use BigQuery and Tableau, you can hook those together, so there's not a ton of incentive to use Data Studio, too, unless it fits a need for sharing with a team.

I can't speak to other Data Studio uses.

I need something like this, but I'm not willing to bet on a google product that will get shut down in a year. It's not worth it, I'd rather do a little extra work to build something custom that will exist as long as I need it.

Is this post going to get made for literally everything that Google launches?

Without a doubt. I've gone one step further and stopped being friendly to my coworkers in case they change jobs and I don't see them again.

If it's a web based product, yes. The fact that it's google only makes this concern marginally appeased.

I'm no Tableau fan at all, but the fact that it's a native app removes this doubt at least.

How is that different than working with a product from another company? Companies and products disappear with regularity. I don't think Google is more prone to it.

AWS SimpleDB. DynamoDB replaced it years ago but AWS keeps it running just for past customers

Perhaps there are enough users that the economics are different. Also, that's one of the more annoying things about AWS for a new user -- an overwhelming variety of services.

This is how I feel. So many things you spend time on with google get tanked. Bleh.

What have they shot down recently? I hadn't heard of any of their products getting the axe in several years...

It's not just the apps that Google explicitly "axes", there are also the ones that Google just stops paying attention to and they fade into nothingness. Google Voice comes to mind.

My company recently switched to Google suite of apps (Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, etc) and soon after was given the heads up that we should expect minimal support/updated to Hangouts since Google is shifting their online chat efforts into Allo and Duo.

Heads up from Google? They are actually investing into hangouts https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/09/google-goes-after-slack-an...

Investing in Hangouts or making even more communication apps? Now there will be Allo, Duo, Chat, Meet, and of course Hangouts.

For Google voice, they redid the UI for mobile and web back in January 2017 (completely new look). So I wouldn't say voice is dying.

As for hangouts, they already announced the replacement for this. Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Meet is already out there and Chat is in closed beta.

Only considering my own workflow: some Hangouts api that some apps I was using relied upon. Probably related to that other product of them competing in the same space but nowhere as feature complete: Google duo.

They’re right now shutting down Google Finance’s portfolios: https://i.imgur.com/0o4Ehxe.png

You should have a look at https://www.cluvio.com/ - we don't plan to go anywhere (disclaimer: I work there).

You should check out Periscope Data, if you're SQL savvy.

Microsoft's Power BI might get you what your looking for at a cost that is <<< Tableau.

You got that right. Its side projects like this at Google that get shut down every year there is product roadmap cleanup!

Sounds like a great idea, except for the part where I need to send all my data to Google.

This happily runs off a view that's got an aggregated subset of your data - so instead of sending customer IDs, consider sending a count of customer IDs against each metric instead.

Too much effort for so little added value. Plus you'll have to change things back when Google kills this project.

As if they already don't have enough, feed more data in to Google.

I use this. I think it's not really for the developer, but rather for the Google Analytics guys. Add Analytics and Search Console data. Works great to get it out of the standard interface and make it more accessible for clients; what content is most popular? Is it moving up/down compared with the same timeframe before it? How are my pageviews/sessions doing? (Compared to previous), Avg. Time spend on site, % of sessions with search, up/down, what did they search for on my site? Where's my traffic coming from? How are the social channels performing? Whats the % desktop/mobile/tablet? How many impressions/clicks did the site make? Whats the site's CTR (and per search term)? Show the trends for the average position in Google, and so on...

We use this at Sentry for reporting for non-SQL-literate folks (also so we don't need to grant yet another 3rd party access to our data). It works pretty well

We mostly use self-hosted Redash for day-to-day analytics for ad-hoc analytics questions.

Filter by Product: Data Studio, and the result says it all: https://www.google.com/analytics/success-stories/#?modal_act...

"Sorry, we couldn't find any success stories to match those filters."

I'm using it for couple of months now. Great for simple queries, especially when you just quickly need to plot out data to see what's going on. Usually I did these things in matplotlib, pandas and it takes a lot of time to prepare the basics.

Once you need something complicated, you will have to or spend decent amount of time preparing the data or back to coding.

well since I see no way to report this issue to google directly and on the off chance someone from Google will see this ...

selecting the language at the bottom of the page does nothing for me on iOS Chrome. Didn't try other browsers but guessing it's not iOS chrome specific. note my iOS is set to japanese

This vs MSFT Power BI?

Thats what I thought too

Shameless plug: Have a look at Cluvio (https://www.cluvio.com/) for SQL-based alternative (disclaimer: I work there).

Looks very similar to Tibco's Spotfire which I saw today at a data conference and also found https://superset.incubator.apache.org by browsing over this last week.

Two things that annoyed me when I last reviewed:

There is no way to display individual time series data points, but they are always aggregated, and minimum resolution is one hour.

You can have only 10 time series in a single visualization.

(Of course, I just may not know how to use this...)

If you have a local setup, a ton of data, and a few good GPU(s)+ I would go bare metal with MapD (http://www.mapd.com) vs. the cloud.

Why the heck don't they support SSL to Postgres? It's not like it's hard, surely it's built in to the driver, they just need to switch it on?

Why would I use this over Dash (Plotly)?


1. I've heard of Google but not Plot.ly

2. It's free, Plot.ly is $10,000 per year.

Plot.ly is one of the largest, most widely used packages in the world of data science/visualization. If you haven't heard of Plot.ly, then you aren't the target audience for Google Data Studio anyway.

Plot.ly is MIT licensed! The hosting is 10K if you want them to host your charts.

Plotly's pricing information is very confusing I must say.

From the website, pretty hard to figure out exactly what's different about it.

From the looks, is it something like AWS's QuickSight?

If you're trying to do any type of time frame comparisons (w/w, m/m, y/y) Google Data Studio is the WORST!

While I'm sure this is useful to the right people, unfortunately my reaction when I see a new Google service announced is "Nobody should use this, it'll be abandoned in six months and shut down in twelve."

I hope Google realises this is a viscous cycle where people avoid signing up for their services, causing low usage, causing them to abandon it, causing lower usage, causing them to shut it down, causing people to avoid signing up for their services...

Where does this rumor even come from? I don't see any evidence for it but there's always a HN comment about it. In fact, I've never had a Google service shutdown but a dozen smaller companies have disappeared in the meantime.

Also, this is a B2B product which is treated much more seriously than their standard consumer products.

"Google’s list of dead services; an infographic:" http://www.androidauthority.com/google-services-shut-down-23...

If that's really the full list then I'm not sure what the problem is. Google Reader was a good service and universally mourned but many of the others have evolved into newer products or have much better non-Google alternatives (it even says that in the descriptions). What in that list are you missing today?

It's not just the apps that Google explicitly retires, there are also the ones that Google just stops paying attention to and they fade into nothingness. Google Voice comes to mind.

My company recently switched to Google suite of apps (Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, etc) and soon after was given the heads up that we should expect minimal support/updates to Hangouts since Google is shifting their online chat efforts into Allo and Duo. We're now regretting that switch.

We were using StackDriver for our AWS monitoring which they bought and killed. B2B definitely isn't safe. They've earned this reputation IMO.

StackDriver is still available and can still monitor AWS: https://cloud.google.com/monitoring/quickstart-aws

Even if it no longer works for your usecase, it's not a Google originated service but another startup that was shutdown/acquired/sold which is what I was referring to.

Should we hold it against google when they acquire a startup and shut it down? Or is it preferable for them to wait for the startup to wind down the service first and then swoop in?

I think it's important to distinguish between consumer services, especially beta and one via acquisition, and core parts of their cloud / big-data ecosystem. Do you worry about Azure services because Microsoft killed WMP or WM10 or FoxPro?

I don't know, I'm assuming users just care that the product or service continues to exist and get better. If an acquisition helps then great, otherwise... sure, we can blame whatever decisions led to the demise, although it's rarely as simple as "stupid big company wasted a bunch of money and made people sad".

Stackdriver isn't dead. I use it today. You can still run it against AWS.

Eh? Stackdriver is a alive and kicking, even their PMs happily interact with customers on the google group and even SO. I've had positive interactions with them regarding some desired use-cases and workarounds until features are available. I'm much more pumped about StackDriver than CloudWatch logs although both have limitations.

Stackdriver is alive and now supports AWS and GCP. Were certain features you used dropped? Which?

Is Google actually more likely to shut down a given service than any other company?

Established services... maybe? Although the list on Wikipedia[0] doesn't make it seem as dramatic.

I know of at least one website[1] dedicated to track whether or not Google had shut down products yet. I think the thing that started this meme was when Google shut down Reader[2].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Discontinued_Google_s...

[1] https://didgoogleshutdown.com/

[2] https://www.google.com/reader/about/

Yes. Google's model is "user has zero say." On the one side of it is forced auto-update, and on the other side is forced deprecation.

Seems so, especially that most of the time we're talking about companies for which a given service is their only product.

Personally, I've learned to treat SaaS products as throwaway by default. That is, if I can benefit from it short-term, like in 3 to 6 weeks, I may sign up. But I don't expect it to exist in 3 to 6 years, so I'm not going to invest much into using it.

I don't specifically blame Google when they acquire a startup and shut down the service. We don't know the financial condition of the company before the acquisition. Would you rather Google wait for the startup to officially fold and then scoop up the assets in bankruptcy?

Their numbers definitely are adversely affected by these "acquisitions"

Companies with only one product are very likely to shut that product down when they go out of business or are acquired.

Perhaps yes, because almost none are core businesses of Google.

This one looks like core business (analytics/data collection).

Any new product is either:

- A startup, which will likely fail

- Not the core business of the company which created it

But it's much easier to drop without endangering the company. And the question is specifically about Google.


Is there a way to use a REST API as a data source?

I'm not very comfortable with giving Google access to our databases.

I think you spot the real question. What are the tools that deal with data viz without forcing you to share the data?

As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, good free ones are: https://metabase.com and https://redash.io

Couldn't you create a few views with the necessary data and database role that could only see those and nothing else?

Probably, but giving someone access to the database is not such a great idea without a glue layer in between to control cache, rate limiting, etc.

Is there anything here for a behavioral scientist, or it really geared for business data?

Business data. If you're currently using SQL for data exploration you're probably not the audience for google data studio.

I've been using this since spring/summer. Is there a new release or something?

Are there any open source offerings that are comparable?

Surprisingly, they've built it on AngularJS!


Yeah, considering they are on Angular 5 now it's surprising that they have use 1.x.

This is not news?

I use Metabase, and will continue to use it.

Also in the process of setting up Luigi (created by Spotify team) to control dependencies and the ETL process prior to Metabase.

And now they have come for all your data.

What are the best looking dashboards? This looks nice but I still want something even more flashy. Usefulness is less important.

for some reason this gives a 400 error when logged in and works fine in incognito

Does anyone know how to connect a service like this to a Heroku Postgresql DB securely and reliably?

Um yeah, that is pretty easy. It's just that GDS does not support SSL for Postgres. If you want, check out a list of BI/ data viz tools [1] I compiled or others mentioned here in the thread.

Feel free to reach out if you have further questions.


Do you accept pull requests?

Yes, of course!

I wonder when they realize tat people use multiple accounts with their services

Just what I was looking for - more ways for giving Google my data.

So.. powerbi by Google?

Somewhat, there are a lot of BI SQL/visualizations/charting/dashboard services today and this is just another alternative, but with the advantage of being well-integrated into Google's Cloud and GSuite products if you're already using them.

It's funny when people complain about vendor lock-in from Oracle, IBM, other legacy enterprise products.

Then they move everything to one of the big 3 clouds so they can use their whole suite of services...interesting.

Shameless plug: https://demo.interana.com

Is that your company? Do they hire for remote?

Yes, no.

So which is it? Just for future reference http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/10/ways-to-say-yes/

What advantages does this offer over doing everything on your own computer?

How long does it take you to sort a 5TB dataset on your own computer?

I've only ever done a few percent of that, but it's a lot quicker than the eternity it would take to upload the data to google and sort it there, this is only viable if your data is already in googles data center.

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