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Why Choose a Collaborative SQL Editor?

August 25th, 2020
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Collaborative SQL editors let your team explore faster and save precious time. They bridge the chasm between solo, offline SQL tools and report-centric visualization tools.

A helpful analogy

  • Legacy SQL tools = a kayak πŸ›Ά. They're made for one person. Everyone independently paddles. You don't go any faster by tying your kayaks together.
  • Business Intelligence tools = an oil tanker 🚒. They steadily carry tons of cargo to the exact same place, but are slow-moving and need lots of maintenance.
  • Collaborative SQL editor = speedboat 🚀. They're built for nimble exploration and can go anywhere, fast.

Detailed comparison of all SQL tools

Command Line Interface Database Management Tool Legacy SQL Editor Data Warehouse Web UI Business Intelligence Tool
Collaboration πŸ”΄
Not for collaboration.
Built for individual use
πŸ”΄
Not for collaboration.
Users have to share .sql files outside of tool
πŸ”΄
Not for collaboration. Users have to share .sql files outside of tool
🟑
Limited query sharing / organization
🟑
Built for rigid dashboards. Data instru- mentation creates dependency / bottleneck
🟒
Built for collaboration. No silos or bottlenecks
Exploration πŸ”΄
Extremely limited
🟑
Limited
🟑
Limited
🟑
Limited
πŸ”΄
Exploration only within the bounds of instru-mented data
🟒
Built for rapid, iterative, and unbounded exploration
Visualization πŸ”΄
None
πŸ”΄
None
πŸ”΄
None
πŸ”΄
None (some connect to external visualization)
🟒
Expansive, complex visualization
🟒
Straightforward charts and dashboards at your fingertips
Ease of Use πŸ”΄
Steepest learning curve
🟑
Clunky dated UIs
🟑
Clunky dated UIs (but 30% more clunky features!)
🟑
Simple SQL interface
🟑
Great for business users. Not designed for heavy SQL writing
🟒
Built for all levels of SQL
Built for the
Cloud
🟒
Surprisingly, there are CLI packages for most cloud warehouses
πŸ”΄
Most lack cloud warehouse support
πŸ”΄
Most lack cloud warehouse support
🟒
Yes, by default
🟒
Supports all major data warehouses / databases
🟒
Supports all major data warehouses and databases via shared connections
Pricing 🟒
Free
🟒
Free to low one-time payment
🟑
Annual licenses required for each data- base type
🟒
Free (as you’re paying for data warehouse)
πŸ”΄
Expensive, with opaque pricing and locked-in contracts
🟒
Clear upfront pricing

Common use cases & FAQs:

I am exploring uncharted territory.

Any update to your data model (e.g. a feature launch) takes you into uncharted territory. For most BI tools, new territory is a bottleneck. You have to wait for the few experts on that BI tool to instrument the data. A few days (weeks?) later and you can finally explore. In a collaborative SQL editor, you can explore your new uncharted data immediately.

I need to visualize my data.

In a collaborative SQL editor, you'll find all the core visualizations. The focus is speed. You shouldn't have to take a thousand steps to produce a chart. For niche or advanced visualizations (e.g. Sankey, chloropleths, etc), a BI tool may be needed.

I already have a BI tool.

BI tools and collaborative SQL editors are not mutually exclusive. It is fine to have both. If your data team is bogged down pulling the same reports for business users, a BI tool may make sense (collaborative SQL editors can power reports too πŸ˜‰ ). Collaborative SQL editors focus on accelerating exploration through uncharted territory.

I query both a production database and a data warehouse.

You shouldn't need multiple tools just because you have multiple data sources. Legacy SQL tools were built long before the advent of cloud data warehouses. The web UIs in cloud data warehouses only run queries against themselves. Collaborative SQL editors work with all major data sources.

I need to manage a database.

Database management tasks (e.g. create a table or import a CSV) can be handled with simple DDL statements. If a GUI is needed, we'd recommend one of the many free database management tools for that specific use case. For exploration, though, get a collaborative editor.

Why not use only a free tool?

There are many hidden costs to using legacy free tools. From cumbersome UIs to silos, they waste your time and lead to redundant cloud run costs.

Next we explore how collaborative SQL editors fix the broken workflows in data collaboration.

Ready for a modern SQL editor?