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Developer tools a key part of Yellowfin analytics platform

With embedded analytics as a central tenet, Yellowfin continues to focus on application developers by giving them new tools and updating existing ones in its platform updates.

As Yellowfin continues to add new features to its analytics platform and update existing ones, enabling application developers is the analytics and business intelligence vendor's ongoing focus.

Yellowfin's vision, according to CEO Glen Rabie, is to bring data science and analytics together embedded throughout a user's workflow, and Yellowfin's focus on developer enablement in recent platform updates is part of its attempt to realize that model.

The vendor, founded in 2003 and based in Melbourne, Australia, unveiled Yellowfin 9.2 in mid-June. Just as Yellowfin 9 featured tools to help developers build customized dashboards and Yellowfin 9.1 included new coding widgets and added more dashboard-building capabilities, the latest update included two new application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers. This time, however, embedded analytics is the central pillar of the new tools for developers.

A new REST API is aimed at helping application developers who want to build custom experiences with Yellowfin Signals and Yellowfin Stories as well as assisting administrators who want to automate back-end processes and perform administrative tasks. A JavaScript API, meanwhile, is designed to enable application developers to customize front-end Yellowfin tools and embed them anywhere in the workflows of business users.

The goal of this release is to enable developers to either take content from Yellowfin and more seamlessly integrate it into their broad applications, or the other way around and actually embed their application components into Yellowfin.
Glen RabieCEO, Yellowfin

Beyond to the two new APIs for developers, Yellowfin's recent analytics platform update included a feature called Step Change Signals, an addition to Yellowfin Signals. It sends alerts to users when step changes -- large or sudden changes that don't alter growth or decline but show an acceleration in one direction -- are detected in their data.

"The goal of this release is to enable developers to either take content from Yellowfin and more seamlessly integrate it into their broad applications, or the other way around and actually embed their application components into Yellowfin, so you kind of get this bidirectional type of integration," Rabie said. "It becomes an end-to-end, closed-loop workflow that you can do now with Yellowfin that you couldn't do before."

Meanwhile, Rabie said that the focus on enabling application developers, both in Yellowfin 9.2 and previous analytics platform updates, was motivated by customers.

The tools for developers, while not no-code, are low-code in their design, and are designed to reduce the time to build applications as well as simplify the development process.

"This is much more about reacting to our customers, and I think the next two or three releases we have planned are very customer-centric in terms of the requests that we've had," Rabie said. "The feedback we're getting is about, 'Is there an easier way, can it be quicker, simpler, faster?' So it was really a reaction to that."

Organizations' data is visually displayed on sample Yellowfin dashboards.
Sample Yellowfin dashboards display how an organization can visually analyze its data.

Yellowfin's focus on developer enablement in each of its last three releases, and particularly its move toward helping developers build embedded analytics applications in the most recent update, is the right direction for the vendor, said Donald Farmer, principal of TreeHive Strategy.

Yellowfin, Farmer said, is focused on helping business users make decisions throughout their workflows rather than just showing customers their data. While it provides visualizations and charts so that users can better digest their data, Yellowfin wants to go the next step and assist customers to reach the right conclusions about their data and make the most prudent decisions based on that data.

Enabling developers, Farmer continued, is part of that.

"The Yellowfin Signals features that they've built, the Yellowfin Stories features that they've built, the collaboration features that they've built, they've all been part of that philosophy about what do you do when you find something," Farmer said. "To a great extent the developer features are part of that philosophy because they help put analytics inside the workflow of a business user."

Regarding the three features included in Yellowfin 9.2, Farmer said that the REST API stands out. The other two -- the JavaScript API and Step Change Signals -- are additions to existing tools, but the new REST API will enable developers to more easily program and deploy their embedded applications.

"The REST API is super interesting, because that is about enabling programmatic manageability features," Farmer said. "It's about being able to do things like set up security and deployments, administration, and being able to do that programmatically. One of the issues with embedded applications is that from the user's point of view it can seem seamless, but from the administrator's point of view it rarely is."

Rabie said Yellowfin plans to keep up its focus on developer enablement.

Upcoming releases will include more APIs to help developers, new algorithms for Signals to help users identify and understand changes in data, and some user interface upgrades aimed at creating a better overall experience, he said.

Speed will be another focus for Yellowfin: reducing the number of steps it takes to build an application from the ground up.

Yellowfin's vision, Rabie continued, is in essence actualizing the convergence of data science and advanced analytics within the workflow.

"Those three things combined are delivering the ability for organizations to actually use data and to use data science models to drive actions in their organizations," he said. "That's the space we want to play in. That's our journey, to really make that super simple and enable organizations to do that quickly, and we believe the result of that is that people will be able to get far more value out of their data assets than they do today."

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