26.04.2023 | Nikolay Valiotti

Modern Data Exploration with Apache Superset

Exploring Data With Apache Superset_ An Overview

Businesses and organizations are constantly on the lookout for powerful tools to help them gain insights from their data. Enter Apache Superset—a cutting-edge open-source business intelligence platform that is taking the business world by storm.

Here is what organizations should know about this versatile solution in order to turn their data into actionable insights.

What Is Apache Superset?

Apache Superset

Apache Superset is a modern business intelligence and data visualization platform that allows users to explore and visualize data from various sources in real time.

It was originally developed by Airbnb in 2015 and was later released for free in 2017 under the Apache Software Foundation. Superset’s development was driven by Airbnb’s need for a data-exploration and visualization tool that could handle the company’s massive data sets and complex analytics requirements. The tool quickly gained popularity within the data community and was adopted by other companies, leading to its open-sourcing.



One of Apache Superset’s key features is its web-based SQL editor, which allows users to execute SQL queries directly from their web browser. This eliminates the need for any additional software installations or command line interfaces, making it much easier to work with data.

Here are some of its other key features:

Data Sources

It supports a wide range of data sources, including nearly any SQL database like PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Oracle, as well as NoSQL databases (supported databases: MongoDB and Apache Cassandra). It also works with popular data platforms such as Amazon Redshift, Apache Druid, and Google BigQuery.

Data Visualization

Apache Superset provides a rich set of visualization options, including bar charts, line charts, pie charts, scatter plots, heatmaps, and more. It also supports custom visualizations using popular JavaScript libraries like D3.js and Plotly.js.


Superset facilitates the creation of interactive dashboards with drag-and-drop functionality, allowing users to easily create and share data visualizations and insights.

Data Exploration

Apache Superset enables data exploration through its SQL Lab feature, which allows users to write and execute SQL queries and view the results in a table or chart. It also supports ad-hoc analysis with pivot tables, cross-filtering, and drill-down capabilities.


The BI tool provides collaboration features that enable users to share dashboards and visualizations with others, as well as to comment on them and annotate them. It also supports integration with popular collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.


Superset provides robust security features, including role-based access control, row-level security, and integration with popular authentication and authorization protocols like OAuth and LDAP.


Apache Superset is highly extensible, enabling developers to build custom plugins, visualizations, and data connectors. It also supports integration with popular third-party tools like Jupyter notebooks and Apache Airflow.

Types of Visualizations

Apache Superset offers a wide range of visualization options, allowing users to choose the best representation for their data, from simple bar charts to complex geospatial visualizations. What’s more, Superset offers geospatial visualizations lightweight enough to be embedded in web applications.

Types of Visualizations

Here is a closer look into a few examples:

Line chart

Line chart

Bubble chart

Bubble chart



How to Install Superset

So, you’re intrigued enough to install Apache Superset! Here are the steps to get you up and running with it:

  1. Choose a hosting service that supports Superset. Some popular options include AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.
  2. Create a new instance on your chosen hosting service. Choose an appropriate instance type and configuration for your needs.
  3. Install Apache Superset on your instance. Depending on your hosting service, this may involve using a pre-built image, a container, or an installation script.
  4. Initialize the database and create an administrative user account. Follow the instructions provided by your hosting service to do this.
  5. Start the Apache Superset server.
  6. Open a web browser and go to the URL provided by your hosting service to access Apache Superset.

Connecting to Databases

Connecting to Databases

Next, you should follow the steps to connect Apache Superset to a database:

  1. Open the Superset web interface and log in as an administrator.
  2. Click on the Sources menu at the top of the page, then select Databases.
  3. Click on the Add Database button.
  4. Select the database type you want to connect to.
  5. Fill in the database connection details. The required information may vary depending on the type of database.
  6. Click Test Connection to check that the connection details are correct. If the test is successful, you will see a green message. If there is an error, check the details and try again.
  7. Click Save.

Once the database is saved, it will appear in the list of available databases. You can click on it to view the tables and columns and start exploring your data.

Note: Some databases may require additional configuration, such as installing drivers or enabling network access. Check the documentation for your database for more information on how to connect to it from external applications.

Creating Charts and Dashboards

Creating Charts and Dashboards

The arguably more exciting part is creating charts and dashboards. For the former, you need to:

  1. Click Charts at the top of the page, then select New Chart.
  2. Select the data source for the chart.
  3. Choose the chart type.
  4. Configure the chart options. The options may vary depending on the chart type but typically include X Axis, Y Axis, Group By, Filters, and Metrics.
  5. Click Create Chart.

Once the chart is created, you can customize it further by clicking on the chart and selecting Edit Chart. You can also add the chart to a dashboard by clicking on Add to Dashboard.

To create a dashboard, you need to:

  1. Click Dashboards at the top of the page, then select New Dashboard.
  2. Choose the layout for the dashboard. Superset supports a variety of layouts, such as Grid, AutoFit, and Responsive.
  3. Add charts to the dashboard by clicking Add Slice. You can resize and rearrange the slices by dragging them around.
  4. Add filters to the dashboard by clicking Filter Box. Select the data source and the column you want to apply a filter on and configure the filter options.
  5. Add text boxes and images to the dashboard by clicking Markdown. You can use Markdown syntax to format the text and add images.

You can customize the dashboard further or also share it with others by clicking Share Dashboard and selecting the appropriate options.

Benefits and Challenges of Apache Superset

Apache Superset offers many benefits for organizations looking to implement a visualization and analytics tool:

  • Superset’s intuitive interface and drag-and-drop functionality make it suitable for non-technical users.
  • The architecture is designed for organizations with complex data requirements.
  • Superset allows organizations to work with the tools and systems that best fit their needs.
  • It provides a high degree of customization options for visualizations, allowing users to tailor charts and graphs to fit their specific needs.

The solution also comes with some challenges that need to be considered, such as:

  • Although Superset is designed to be user-friendly, some technical knowledge is still required to set up and configure the tool.
  • It can be resource-intensive, requiring significant server and processing power to handle large volumes of data and support high levels of concurrency.
  • Although Superset has a growing user community; documentation and resources can be limited compared to other data visualization tools.


Apache Superset is a powerful open-source business intelligence tool that offers a wide range of functionalities and beautiful visualizations for modern data exploration. Unlike proprietary business intelligence tools that are expensive and often require significant training to use, Apache Superset is free and open source. It also supports all major database solutions, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Oracle, making it a versatile tool for any data professional.

Its place in the modern data stack is well established, alongside other technologies like data warehouses, ETL tools, and data analytics platforms. And Superset will likely continue to play a critical role in the future of data visualization and exploration.

You need this guide, because it includes:

  • evolution of data stack
  • reasons why many well-known tools do not meet the challenges of the new world
  • vital structure of modern data stack
  • the newest tools for every part of modern data stack

Turn it on to get exclusive guide on modern data stack

Emails suck. This newsletter doesn’t

Subscribe to the newsletter and get the most useful guide on modern data stack

The newsletter

You will also receive other useful materials on data analysis hacks with case examples from our company.