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Data Visualization 2011: Spotfire 3.3, Silver 2.0

Sat, September 10, 2011

In May 2011 TIBCO released Spotfire 3.3  and first that jumped to my eyes was how mature this product is. 

For example, among new features is improved scalability – each additional simultaneous user of a web analysis initially claims very little additional system memory (see above). 

Spotfire 3.3

Many Spotfire customers will be able to support a greater number of web users on their existing hardware by upgrading to 3.3. Spotfire Web Player 3.3 includes significant improvements in memory consumption.  Theoretically goal is to minimize the amount of system memory needed to support larger numbers of simultaneous users on the same analysis file. Main use case here: the larger the file and the greater the number of simultaneous web users on that file, then less initial system memory required to support each additional user: it is greatly reduced compared to version 3.2.1 and earlier.

Additional reason why posting about Spotfire in September2011 is very simple: TIBCO is releasing this month Spotfire Silver 2.0. Spotfire Silver version 2.0 is available now on and officially announced at TIBCO User Conference 2011 (9/27-9/29/11).  I will talk more about Spotfire Silver 2.0 below after discussing Spotfire 3.3

As I said in a Title: we are witnessing a very mature software. Apparently the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) agrees with me and Defense Intelligence Agency Selects TIBCO Spotfire Analytics Solutions for Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Community. “With more than 16,500 military and civilian employees worldwide, DIA is a major producer and manager of foreign military intelligence”

Spotfire 3.3 also includes collaborative bookmarking, which enables all Spotfire users  to capture a dashboard – its complete configuration, including markings, drop down selections, and filter settings and share that visualization immediately with other users of that same dashboard, regardless of client in use. Unlike competitors, Spotfire actually not just a piece of Data Visualization Software, but a real Analytical Plarform, including completely integrated S-PLUS (commercial version of R Library which has more then million of users)

Spotfire has well-thought Web Architecture,

the best Web Client (you can have Zero-footprint Interactive Dashboards, with Spotfire Web Player and Spotfire Silver, which is partially free and indirectly competes with popular Tableau Public) and free iPad Client. Spotfire  has  very rich API, SDK, integration with Visual Studio, supports IronPython and JavaScript , set of Extension Points etc. Spotfire’s portfolio includes desktop products (Professional for developers and Enterprise Player for Analysts), Toolset for Researchers (e.g. Decision Site and Analytics Server), Industry Specific Solutions (e.g. for Clinical, Biopharmaceutical, Chemical, Financial and Econometrical Analytics).

Unlike Qlikview, Spofire is very scalable and is not limited by size of RAM (computer’s memory), but can use practically unlimited disk-based storage as Virtual Memory for Data Analytics. Spofire has good integration with GIS and its portfolio inludes Modeling and Data Mining functionality.

My only concern with Spotfire is its focus, since it is part of a large corporation TIBCO, which has 50+ products and 50+ reasons to focus on something else. According to IDC and Gartner, Spotfire’s revenue in 2009 was about $64M and in 2010 about $70M, which is just about 8% of TIBCO sales. While Tableau and Qlikview are growing much faster than Spotfire (sales-wise), maturity giving Spotfire a good fighting chance in Visual Analytics Market. Since TIBCO bought Spotfire in 2007, I expected Spotfire will be integrated with other great TIBCO products, but after 4 years it is still not a case… And TIBCO has no reason to change its corporate policies, since its busines is very good and stock is doing well. I think it is interesting to notice that TIBCO recently rejected a buyout offer from HP!

Spotfire Silver 2.0

Spotfire Silver Personal Edition is Free (Trial for one year, can be “renewed” with other email address for free) and allows 50MB (exactly the same amount as Tableau Public) and allows 10 concurrent read-only web users of your content. If you wish more then Personal Edition you can buy Personal Plus ($99/year) or Publisher ($99/month or $1000/year) or Analyst ($399/month) Account.

Update 9/27/11: TIBCO officially released Silver 2.0, “TIBCO Silver Spotfire 2.0 gives users the ability to embed live dashboards into their social media applications, including business blogs, online articles, tweets, and live feeds, all without complex development or corporate IT resources… Overall, the software’s capabilities foster collaboration, which allows users to showcase and exchange ideas and insights — either internally or publicly. In addition, it allows users to share solutions and application templates with customers, prospects, and other members of the community.”

In any case you will GET for your Account needs a real Spotfire Desktop Client and worry-free and hassle-free web hosting (by TIBCO) of your Data Visualization applications – you do not need to buy any hardware,  software or services for web hosting, it is all part of your Spotfire Silver account.

To test Spotfire Silver 2.0 Personal Edition I took Adventure Works dataset from Microsoft (60398 rows, which is 6 times more than Spotfire’s own estimate of 10000 rows for 50MB Web storage). Adventure Works dataset  requires 42MB as Excel XLS file (or 16M as XLSX with data compression) and only 5.6MB as Spotfire DXP file (Tableau file took approximately the same disk space, because both Spotfire and Tableau are doing a good data compression job). This 5.6MB size of DXP file for Adventure Works is just 11% of web storage allowed by Spotfire (50MB for Personal Edition) to each user of free Spotfire Silver 2.0 Personal Edition.

Spotfire Silver 2.0 is a very good and mature Data Visualization product with excellent Web Client, with Desktop Client development tool and with tutorials online. Functionally (and Data Visualization-wise) Spotfire Silver 2.0 has more to offer then Tableau Public. However Tableau Public account will not expire after 1 year of “trial” and will not restrict number of simultaneous users to 10.

Spotfire Silver 2.0 Publisher and Analyst Accounts can compete successfully with Tableau Digital and they have much clear licensing then Tableau Digital, which is based on number of “impressions” and can be confusing and more expensive then Spotfire Silver Analyst Edition. 

Contact Practical Computer Applications via email, phone: 617-527-4722 x127 
or Request For Information regarding our Database, Data Analytics or Data Visualization consulting services.

Andrei Pandre, Ph.D., VP of Data Visualization, PracticalDb.com

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