A few weeks ago, I made the comment that we have had some good success with the free Microsoft TreeMap control to implement heatmaps. I also mentioned the fact that, for our needs, the Microsoft product seemed to suffice and that I did not see any immediate reason to buy the Panopticon product for heatmaps.
The Panopticon people asked me for some time on my blog to address the difference between the Treemap and their product, so I have reprinted their comments verbatim:
“What we at Panopticon Software offer in the product called Panopticon Developer is an SDK for embedding visual analysis and monitoring functionality into applications by means of integrating components such as interactive visualizations and a powerful data model capable of aggregating real-time data streams. The Microsoft Treemap control seems in to be considerably smaller and restricted in its API and designed to be used as a simple chart library and therefore for example does not include analytical functionality. Collateral posted at (public url at www.panopticon.com) provides more detailed information on how Panopticon Developer is compares in relation to more traditional chart libraries.
With this SDK we’ve built a rapid web deployment toolkit called Panopticon Enterprise which provides very low ownership costs, extremely short time to market while preserving the functionality available in the SDK.
We typically work out significantly cheaper than in-house build due to the lack of maintenance and ease of deployment for new requirements”
(end of Panopticon comment .. now back to Marc)
Like any company, we have a budget that is tightly controlled. If Panopticon, or any third-party product, provides fiunctionality that will cost us more to develop ourselves, then the decision is to go to a third-party product. We like the fact that a third-party will support the product, but on the other hand, custom developing something ourselves gives us tight control over the feature set without having to wait for release cycles from a vendor. But, if we can take an existing free product and, with relatively little effort, modify it to do what we need, then I would be neglecting my fiduciary responsbility as an officer of the company to purchase a third-party product and pay a continuing stream of license and maintanence fees.
We are only at the beginning of exploring what heatmap technology can do for us, and in addition to Panopticon, there are other fish out there like Fractal Edge (makers of what I like to call the Undulating Amoeba heatmap!)
If there are any of you out there who have used or evaluated heatmap products, I would love to get your comments.
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