12 Best Open Source BI Tools Data Teams Recommend

12 Best Open Source BI Tools Data Teams Recommend

You need to make sense of your data, and you need a budget-friendly way to do so, then an open-source Business Intelligence tool is obviously your top of mind.

But before trialing a bunch of open-source BI tools (which can be time-consuming, even with article like this delineating pros and cons), let’s take a step back and take a dive into the categorization of BI space.

Sounds unnecessary? After all you come here for a list, not other mumble jumble right.

If you have little time to spare, go straight down for the list below.

If not, keep scrolling.

We insist so because having a taxonomy for the business intelligence space is useful, it allows you to quickly place the tool within the first few minutes of browsing a vendor’s website. Business intelligence landscape can be incredibly confusing because tools from previous paradigms stick around for a long, long time, therefor, having a categorization scheme in your head cuts through all that noise.

Business intelligence tools in the market can be categorized in the following ways:




SQL vs Non-SQL

Non-SQL: Tableau, PowerBI, Sisense

SQL: Holistics, Looker, Mode, Redash, Metabase

Embedded Datastore vs External Datastore

Embedded: MicroStrategy, Tableau, PowerBI, Sisense

External: Holistics, Looker, Metabase, Redash,

In-memory vs In-database

In-memory: Tableau, MicroStrategy, Sisense, PowerBI, etc.

In-database: Holistics, Looker, Redash, Metabase, etc.

Modeling vs non-modeling BI tools

Non-modeling: Tableau, Mode, Redash

Modeling: Qlik, PowerBI, Looker, Holistics

Explaining the differences between SQL and non-SQL BI, or Modeling vs non-modeling BI would make a wall of text, so we have to make a dedicated blog post for that. Check out: Navigating business intelligence space - a complete guide.

I. Is An Open-Source BI Tool Really What You Need?

(let's revisit the pros and cons)


  • Users have full-ownership forever. Open-source BI tools are often free with unlimited usage.
  • Open-source BI tools reduce the perceived long-term risk of vendor lock-in or vendor closing down. They also offer flexibility, you can make as many adjustments as you require to the code to make it suitable for your use casse and all you need is developer resources.
  • Since you have full control over the platform, you can embed it into any system such as your CRM and web applications for a seamless experience and maximum adaptability.


  • Open-source BI tools are self-managed and thus require a large developer and IT resources in order to keep the tool running.
  • Open-source BI tools are limited in built-in integrations compared to licensed solutions. This means that any integration with any other system has to be built from scratch at the code level.
  • There is no dedicated support for open-source BI solutions. Sure, you will have a community of users who help each other but in many instances, finding personalized support for a specific problem/query can be slight challenging.

II. 12 Free & Open-source BI Tools Data Teams Love

01. Preset

Preset is a fully hosted BI tool for Apache Superset. Apache Superset is an open-source software application for data exploration and data visualization capable of handling data at a petabyte scale. Preset was started as a hackathon project at Airbnb in the summer of 2015.

Preset dashboard

Key Features

  • Fully hosted: No need to install or maintain any software.
  • Over 40 types of visualization including hit maps
  • Semantic layer: Last-mile SQL data transformations availiable.
  • No-code data exploration: drag-and-drop report builders to create complex visualizations without the need for writing code.
  • Charts and dashboards cache: Helps reduce the load on your data stack.
  • Slack delivery: Notify your users via Slack when events in your dashboards are triggered.
  • Supports major SQL data sources including Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, and many more
  • Dynamic SQL editor: Collaborative SQL IDE to define dimensions, metrics, & virtual datasets in the semantic layer.
  • Dashboard CSS templates: Customize the look and feel of your dashboards by adjusting the code.

Related reading: Community Crowd-Sourced BI Evaluation Worksheet: Feature-to-Feature Comparison

02. Lightdash

Lightdash is a relatively new open-source business intelligence solution that can connect to a user's dbt project and allow them to add metrics directly in the data transformation layer, then create and share insights with the whole team.

Lightdash Dasboard

Main Features

  • Lightdash can be self-hosted or fully hosted by Lightdash. The fully hosted option is not free.
  • An unlimited number of users can be added to the project, with  unlimited number of charts and dashboards
  • Integration with GitHub, Gitlab & dbt
  • A strong  and supportive community of users.
  • Dimensions and metrics can be declared in YAML alongside with your dbt project.
  • Team collaboration option for cloud and enterprise version.
  • Access management, dedicated account manager, advanced support, and SSO for the enterprise version.

Learn more: Lightdash Alternative: Similar conceptual design, more mature functionalities

Before diving into the list, you might want to check out Holistics. To be fully transparent, Holistics is not an open-source BI tool - but possesses similar flexibility and ease of use.

Holistics comes with a code-based modeling layer with self-service data exploration. Holistics is 100% cloud-based, provides a centralized data modeling approach for BI teams, and empowers business users who don’t know SQL can do true self-service.

Holistics Drag-n-Drop BI 

Similar to Lightdash and Looker, Holistics is also dev-friendly: You can write code (DSL) to define your analytics logic, and check them into Git version control for better governance, or sync your logic with dbt integration. Plus, it has a pay-as-you-go pricing model so it's risk-free.

See how Holistics works.

03. Helical Insight

Helical insights in an open-source BI tool that has a quite unique approach to the self-service analytics by introducing a BI platform that allows the end-users to leverage API to add any functionality as per requirement.

Helica Open Source dashboard

Main Features

  • Instant intelligence: Leverages machine learning and NLP to empower non-technical users with quick insights.
  • Workflow: Design workflow based on your business process to determine when and which functional module would gets triggered.
  • API-drive: Helica’s API allows you to add functionalities, such as adding a new exporting type, new data source type, core functionality expansion, new charting in ad-hoc analysis, etc.
  • Fullly browser-based: Eliminates the need to download or install heavy memory-consuming developer tools as well as allowing users to connect with database and analyze across any devices.
  • Various exporting options: Users can export reports and dashboards as images, PDF, CSV, Excel etc. Data from individual reports can be exported into CSV or excel format as well. Other export options that are not available by default, can be added via API.
  • Scheduling options: Reports and dashboards can be sent to emails in the format of image, PDF, Excel,etc. Users can also configure other functionalities like saving in FTP, triggering emails based on certain events or values, etc.

Reviews and Rating

On Capterra, Helica Insights has a rating of 5.0. Most users love their clean design and report visualization. Customer support has also been cited as one of Helica’s forte.

04. BIRT

BIRT, which stands for “business intelligence reporting tool”, is an open-source and top-level software project within the Eclipse Foundation. BIRT pulls data from various data sources that can be used for reporting and visualization.

BIRT dashboards

Main Features

  • Data customization: Various business logic can be applied to BIRT dashboards via computed columns, column meta-data, filtering and scripted data sets.
  • Conditional formatting, conditional visibility, value mapping and highlighting.
  • Scripting: Ue JavaScript in order to access the Report Object Model for a complete control of the report to handle even the most complex report formatting tasks.
  • Project management: Integration with Eclipse project management suite to manage and organize related reports.
  • Customized dashboard design: BIRT styles are CSS-based and any web developer can set a style in one place and project it onto the entire report.
  • Libraries: BIRT supports libraries that organize shared resources across the reports. The shared resources include styles, data sources, report items, scripts,etc.
  • Internationalization and localization: Components like text localization, language packs, dynamic formatting, and bidirectional support are available in BIRT.

Reviews and Rating

Reviews on Capterra reveal that while BIRT is functionally adequate for report generation, its analytics capabilities and customer service often come short of expectation and there is a steep learning curve.

05. Jaspersoft

Jaspersoft is a customizable and developer-friendly Business Intelligence platform which allows developers to build analytics solutions that meet the business requirements.

Main Features

  • Embedded Analytics: With an API-first approach, Jaspersoft equips developers with all the functionalities needed to create embedded dashboards. This is done via JavaScript framework and powerful back-end services via REST to handle accesses, SSO, multi-tenancy, etc.
  • Flexibility: Jaspersoft can be deployed on cloud, on-premise, hybrid or even  microservices-based architectures. Furthermore, the source code can be easily modified to build custom features.
  • Design customization: Complicated reports can be designed at the code level to bring in strong graph presentation.
  • Made for developers: Unlike many BI tools that are designed for business users, Jaspersoft provides the required functionalities and control for developers through APIs and a supportive community.
  • Granular security: You can choose to show or hide rows or columns in reports to users by defining permissions based on users.

Reviews and Rating

On Capterra, Jaspersift has a 4.3 rating. Many users praised the tool for being highly customizable and generally great for Java developers. On the other hand, some  a lack of support in the community for specific problems as well as an unintuitive design interface Jaspersift’s weakness.


KNIME is a scalable enterprise-level software that is focused on empowering data science teams to create actual business values. Knime provides powerful tools that allow data teams to gather, model data as well as deploy and manage the results all the way to visualization and insights generation.

KNIME visualization

Main Features

  • Visual programming:  Users can create comprehensive workflows using visual programming for data analytics with a drag-n-drop graphic interface.
  • Nodes control: Control the nodes for the entire data lifecycle by modeling each step of the data analysis and controlling the flow of data to ensure data freshness.
  • KNIME hub: Using KNIME hub, users can blend tools from different domains including scripting in R & Python, machine learning, or connectors to Apache Spark.
  • Various data connectors: Users can connect to text format sources (e.g. CSV, PDF), databases (e.g. Oracle, Microsoft SQL), and sources such as SalesForce, Amazon S3, Google Sheets, Azure and more.
  • Data manipulation: Users can carry out mathematical operations including mean, quantiles, and standard deviation, or apply statistical tests to validate a hypothesis.
  • AI Support: Build various ML models including classification, regression, dimension reduction, and clustering. You can also validate models using performance metrics such as Accuracy, R2, AUC, and ROC.

Reviews and Rating

On revies platforms, KNIME has a rating of 4.6/5. Most favorable review the variety of native tools for data processing, user-friendly UI and machine learning capabilities. Limited visualization options and high-memory consumption are cited as the biggest turnoffs for users.

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07. SpagoBI

SpagoBI is an open source BI tool that enables users to combine and distill traditional data and big data sources into actionable insights via data exploration, data preparation, self-service data, ad-hoc reporting, and many more.

Spago BI

Main Features

  • Built for everyone: Spago has a community version and an enterprise version. The community version has all the basic features that are needed for small and medium-sized enterprises whereas the enterprise version is built to support more complex use-cases.
  • Automatic Dossier: Users can define a doc/ppt template and configure it so the marked boxes will be automatically filled with the reports at the specified dates. This feature is useful for preparing a draft report or one-click publication.
  • Advanced data visualization: Users can take advantage of the custom code functionality to build advanced visualization components (using HTML code, third-party libraries, R/python code). There is a gallery with pre-packaged components that can be further developed to meet more specific requirements.
  • Plugins: Spago has a set of useful plugins to enhance user experience including smart data, location intelligence, performance management and custom analytics.

Reviews and Rating

On review platforms like Capterra or G2, users generally like Spago’s accessibility since it enables organizations with tight budget to access a powerful BI tool with tons of features. The biggest downside pointed out by its users is the configuration difficulty of various BI elements as they require scripting knowledge.

08. ReportServer

ReportServer is a free BI platform that operates under a GPL license. This means that anyonecan use ReportServer in their organizations for free. However, offers for service and support as well as commercial licensing options are also available.

ReportServer BI dashboard

Main Features

  • Reporting engines integration: Integration with different providers under roof which gives users the ability to select the best reporting engines for their specific use case. Some of the reporting engines are Eclipse BIRT, OLAP & Mondrian, Jasper Reports, SAP Crystal Reports,etc.
  • Audit-proof: ReportServer generates detailed documentation for every report. The document covers all user-defined configurations such as the selection of parameter values.
  • Extendable via script: ReportServer supports scripting to achieve results faster and in a more efficient manner. For instance, using the scripts, users can automate maintenance tasks, manipulate outcomes as the basis for reports or parameters as well as implement customer specific extensions without having to amend ReportServer code.
  • Flexible parameters: Users can select report parameters from basic params, data source-driven parameters, file-upload parameters, cascaded parameters, and script parameters.

Reviews and Rating

On G2, Report Server has a 4.2 rating. Most users favor the integration with different reporting engines as well as the ability to  use scripts for automation. At the same time, expensive license and incomprehensive documentation are mentioned as the downsides of this platform.

09. Tableau Public

Tableau Public is the free version of Tableau that allows users to publicly share and explore data visualizations online. Users can create visualizations using either Tableau Desktop Professional Edition or the free Public Edition.

Tableau Public dashboards

Main Features:

  • Visualizations in Tableau public are available for the whole community to see so that users can use these as the inspiration and reference for their own works.
  • There are tons of visualization options in Tableau public that users can utilize based on their use cases including but not limited to: bar, scatter, pie, and waterfall charts to explore relationships between variables, or to present findings/trends  different teams.
  • Up to 10 million rows of data can be stored, processed, and shared.
  • Tableau public is beginner-friendly with strong support from Tableau community. It also comes with a wide variety of sample data for users to practice dashboard creations.

Reviews and Rating

On G2, Tableau public has a 4.4 rating. Many praised its variety of visualization options and ease of use, while complaints are mostly about the limited connectors available.

10. ART - A Reporting Tool

ART is an open-source reporting and BI solution that is licensed under the GPLv3.

Main Features

  • ART is a lightweight and web-based application that can be easily accessed from all devices.
  • Scheduling options allows users to receive/send dashboards or reports on specific date and times.
  • Installation, administration, and usage of the platform are all designed for non-technica users or beginners.
  • Reports can be exported in various formats including PDF, Excel, and CSV.
  • ART supports online analytical processing (OLAP) which facilitates flexible and self-service reporting.
  • ART provides an embed database called HSQLDB to store query definitions, users, permissions and rights, connected databases,etc.
  • Existing authentication systems such as LDAP and active directories are supported for authentication purposes.

11. Abixen

Abixen is a microservices-based software platform for creating enterprise applications. Abixen allows users can to implement a new, separated microservice by creating new functionalities. Abixen 's organizational division consists of pages and modules and one of the functional modules is the Business Intelligence service.

Main Feature

  • Being a microservice-based software, you can easily add a new business intelligence instance on a page.
  • Built-in security system, which ensures full control access to pages, modules, and even the data displayed and used by the modules.
  • Easily scalable as microservice instances can be increased as performance surges.
  • Abixen is fully cloud-based on Spring Cloud and Netflix OSS. It is compatible with AWS as well.
  • 24/7 support is available as well as the option to request customized modules on the platform.

12. FineReport

FineReport is a free BI tool that enables users to query, analyze, manage and visualize, data from various data sources.

Main Features

  • FineReport designer allows users to create interactive dashboards with a drag-n-drop report builder.
  • There are over 19 categories and over 50 styles of self-developed HTML5 charts, including 3D and dynamic effects to make powerful visualization.
  • Various widgets available to support large data entry, customized data submission and data validation. Users can also importing excel files online.
  • The powerful mobile app enables users to carry out data analysis activities including parameter query, and message push. Offline viewing, mobile data entry, and more.
  • As a Java software, FineReport can be easily integrated with different systems using independent or embedded deployment.

Reviews and Rating

On Capterra, FineReport has an overall rating of 5.0. Most users like its ease of use, strong data connectivity, and interactive visualizations. The cons, according to users, is the lack of self-service reporting.