written by
5000fish Team

What is Visual SQL (Pros and Cons)?

BI Terminology 5 min read
DashboardFox Visual SQL

We create vast volumes of data on a daily basis on all aspects of our business. In fact, worldwide, the last two years account for 90 percent of all the online data ever created. But what do we do with all this data? Often, we store it in ever-growing databases, and there it remains, unused and dormant.

But hidden amongst all this data is business-critical information that can be a vital resource for the significant business decisions we have to take.

How do we mine the gold hidden amongst all the noise?

Databases are an organized collection of information split into tables of related data. We can manipulate this data using a programming language. The language commonly used by databases is called Structured Query Language or SQL.

SQL is a difficult language to learn – it is verbose, complicated, and intimidating. This means that we typically need to employ a specialist data scientist to make sense of our data. A data expert uses SQL to build queries that retrieve the most useful information we require from our database.

Queries are extended strings of code that look like algebra. We use them to give instructions to the database only to filter the information that is relevant to our question.

But how can we, as a non-data scientist, build queries to retrieve the information we need?

What is Visual SQL?

Visual SQL is a graphical user interface we can use to build complicated SQL instructions to interrogate our databases. Utilizing a point and click interface, non-technical staff can design advanced queries without having to write a line of code.

At DashboardFox, we call this Codeless Report Building. We think that you shouldn’t have to be a data expert to produce critical Business Intelligence (BI). So, we have devised a way for all users to bypass the learning curve of SQL and have access to self-service BI.

We think that the point-and-click interface of our Codeless Report Builder is a game-changer for data analytics. The simple interface allows us to build queries step-by-step and combine data from multiple sources. This enables even the most technology shy user to do ad-hoc report building.

Codeless BI can help us unleash the value we currently have hidden inside our databases. Making BI a powerful tool in a competitive marketplace and can give us a winning edge over our rivals.

What are the benefits of Visual SQL?

Facilitates a deeper understanding of organizations. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for all the trees. But the ability for non-technical staff, who knows our business well to produce reports, expands our access to BI. We already have experts in our businesses; let's leverage their insight via codeless report building to help us accelerate business growth.

Don’t have to be a coding expert. The learning curve for SQL is steep. So, the easy-to-use point and click interface ensures that staff can quickly learn how to build queries and interrogate data sources.

Blend data from multiple sources. Many companies use lots of different applications from day to day, and sometimes they don't communicate with each other well. The Codeless Report Builder handles the translation and lets users combine data from a variety of sources to produce insightful reports.

No need to sacrifice security. There are some datasets that we don't wish to share with all our employees. The Codeless Report builder only allows users to access the information that we want them to. Permission levels are complied with, so we can be sure that authorized users can only see confidential information.

Are there any disadvantages to Visual SQL?

Constrains some experts. Expert operators who are already familiar with SQL may find that using a visual SQL tool is burdensome. But, when we think about the total output of all staff having access to codeless BI, it outweighs the needs of a select few who can write an SQL query manually.

Reworking of current reports. Working with a new system may mean that existing reports written in raw SQL don't function correctly. The reports will likely need recreating using the Visual SQL tool. But it also allows us the option to rework and refresh the reports, leveraging new features and adding improvements.

A high level of complexity can be hard to attain. Some queries created with the Codeless Report Builder may be too complex due to an excessive number of steps. A Visual SQL tool does have its limitations, but often ways can be found around the problem. By using database views for super complex queries should prevent the need to abandon the Codeless Report Builder.

Explore How DashboardFox Implements Visual SQL

DashboardFox was designed from the ground up with business users in mind. To create powerful datasets and visualizations, you don’t have to be a technical expert in SQL or database schemas.

Our process is simple, DashboardFox allows your IT or database team to convert your raw data into a semantic layer. Thinks of this as a universal translator on Star Trek, it converts all the database stuff into a simple list of fields that you as a business user can use to create reports.

Within the DashboardFox Composer, you pick what fields you need to create a dataset. Add in criteria (think of those as filters that can be static or dynamic), add in any formulas you need to aggregate or calculate specific values from the dataset, and then you apply the output type that best displays the data, a data grid or one of our out-of-the-box visualizations.

When you save the report, you can share it with specific team members or everyone (or keep it private to yourself) and then each time the report is run, you get live data from your database(s). Bonus: You can easily add these into a dashboard to see multiple reports and apply filters across the entire report set.

We’re talking about Visual SQL, this video overview of the DashboardFox Composer can show you much easier than the text above, take a look.

Let’s Discuss Your Requirements

The best way to know if DashboardFox is a fit for your team is to talk to us. We can understand your requirements and tell you the good and the bad of how DashboardFox may fit.

You read that correctly, we’ll tell you when we’re not a good fit. We’re a small bootstrapped company, and we want to make sure DashboardFox is a good fit for you as we’ve got no time to oversell and try to fix an unhappy customer later.

Take a look at a live demo of DashboardFox or start a free trial and see how DashboardFox can enable your business to leverage data more effectively via Visual SQL. Empower your users with self-service reporting and analytic software.

Visual SQL Codeless Report Building DashboardFox Self-Service BI Ad-hoc Reporting