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A love story between Sisense BloX and Adobe XD

Big news for analytic app builders looking to make their visuals even more compelling: Sisense has an Adobe XD plugin that lets them create custom visualizations for their Sisense BloX widgets with zero code. Read on to learn how we did it!

Empowering builders with powerful tools

Before developers start building analytic apps, data engineers and other experts within their company bring data from different sources into Sisense, cleaning and manipulating it so that users can ask business questions and find insights. Dashboard designers create beautiful visualizations and developers build actionable analytic apps to help in-house users, as well as customers, get more out of their data and make smarter decisions.

The Sisense Adobe XD Plugin is a huge leap forward for builders and developers. Now they can design their own graphs and easily turn them into Sisense BloX widgets that can go anywhere.

Business intelligence: A quick history

Business intelligence (BI) is older than a lot of people think. From a software perspective, the ‘80s were when users started getting their hands on BI software. One of the first ways to visualize data was through VisiCalc (1979), then Lotus (1983), and finally Excel sheets (1987). However, dataset growth soon started outpacing these systems’ abilities. Plus, none of the older generation of BI tools were fun to work with and making beautiful-looking charts was still very difficult.

The rise of beautiful apps

After years of being told that business software was “a serious thing,” and that it was also ugly and not easy to use, Google entered the fight in the ‘90s. They started with Gmail and Google Docs and finally Google Sheets, which was a game-changer. The major thing to note here was that these applications were easy to use and even fun. Thanks to Google, we started hearing about user experience, engagement, and many more keywords that are so normal today that everybody forgets that they weren’t widely used until recently.

Making BI beautiful and functional

Now that we know we can do beautiful things with great functionality, let’s go back to the world of business intelligence visuals. Graphs haven’t changed much since the beginning of time, and more or less for good reasons, math hasn’t changed either.

In the past, if you needed a pie chart to show your data, you used a pie chart — problem solved. There was a single option, not a range of choices that all looked slightly different. Today, we live in times where we are looking for tools not only that can do what we want, we also want them to look great while they do it (and if they are easy to use even better).

That’s why, back in 2018, we released Sisense BloX, a Sisense plugin to build analytic apps, giving users complete freedom and be limited only by their own imagination.

Adobe XD and Sisense: partners in analytic excellence

To make it even easier for our users to build beautiful things with Sisense BloX, we went looking for a partner. Your first question might be: why don’t we build it inside our own application? We felt that building a graphic tool inside Sisense wasn’t one of our areas of expertise. We wanted to partner with a company that lives and breathes this kind of tool. (For a better understanding of our partnership mentality, check out this blog post about why and when to partner in tech.)

Adobe makes great design products, and one of them got our attention: Adobe XD. From the beginning, we noticed that it was easy to use, free, and had a great plugins marketplace and developer community. In short, it was perfect for our needs.

We wanted to build an application that would let users draw their own visualizations with dynamic values and then embed these visualizations into Sisense. With Adobe’s help, we were able to do this! The plugin is in the Adobe XD marketplace for everybody to use, you only need to download Adobe XD, go to the marketplace and search for the Sisense plug-in, and click on install.

To use this plugin, simply install Sisense and install Sisense BloX.

As you can see in this quick demo, once you draw something, you can transform it into a Sisense BloX template with two clicks:

Adobe XD visuals in action

In a world of data visualization where none of the leading analytics and BI platforms let you create your own visualizations, with Sisense BloX and Adobe XD completely revolutionizes data graphics. This example of a temperature graph uses unique visuals to display temperature changes over time and is even animated for a more compelling experience. 

Another example displays a bar illustrating running speed using animated runners that move as filters are applied to the data. It’s another unique graph you can’t build on any other platform and it’s also specifically designed for its purpose.

Building better analytic apps

Sisense BloX with the Sisense Adobe XD Plugin opens a bold new way forward for companies who want to be different, are driven by technology, and need to stand out in a sea of competitors. Beautiful and more relevant custom graphics give users a faster, more fun way to understand data. It also gives builders a way to create more beautiful analytic apps and truly bring their imaginations to life.

The Sisense Adobe XD Plugin also brings other powerful capabilities. First off, with SVG Export, you can control whether or not your visualization’s code is minified. Not minifying code allows you to keep customizing it for unlimited flexibility in building the exact visualization that you want. Additionally, the plugin was rewritten from scratch utilizing React to make it even easier for developers to build on top of code, taking advantage of the huge community of one of the most used frameworks in the software world.

It’s an exciting time for builders looking to create more dynamic analytic apps. Sisense is committed to empowering builders with the most robust tools on the planet. Check back for more updates and an in-depth look at what you can do with the Sisense Adobe XD Plugin.

Lio Fleishman is the Partnership Solutions Engineer at Sisense and is passionate about JavaScript and front-end engineering tools. He is obsessed with making the way engineers do their jobs easier and better every day.

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