What was the best part about using Birst?
The ability to make reports with visualization from massive data is very nice concept. The fact that it's all online and installation free is also very convenient.
What would you change about your experience with Birst?
Seems very unpolished. As a user, I experience several bugs/quirks that makes BIRST seems like an unpolished product still under development. For instance, selecting several labels or columns for resizing is a pain. The first time you do so, values for the different sizes and positions are concatenated in the fields. Attempting to change the values does absolutely nothing. The second time you select and attempt to change the values works. This happens EVERY time. Another bug: After selecting several columns/labels and then selecting one column/label to change column/label properties opens the window for changing formatting of several columns/labels. Again, this happens EVERY time. Windows are sometimes too small for the actual form. I actually have to scroll to the right to press OK or cancel for some popup window prompts. Dashboard prompts must be created and tested first before putting in formulas before the parent function works. If not tested first, the parent (ie cascading) prompt function does not work. I have no idea why. Again, this happens EVERY time. Report queries are also sometimes not updated with your changes and I have had to recreate entire reports because it refuses to update.
Another thing that's a pain, is the different syntaxes of each area in BIRST. For example, an IF statement has different syntax in creating custom expressions (IIF(, , )), in creating custom measures ((IF then else end) and in creating ETL scripts (IF then else if end if). This definitely raises the required skill level of a BIRST reporting analyst.
BIRST is very sensitive and not robust. It is case sensitive in most, if not all areas. Error detection is not made easy. Error messages are sometimes missing or very vague. Query logs are sometimes slow to update and thus unreliable in locating errors.
Be cautious about buying BIRST to allow non-developers to create reports out of massive data. BIRST reporting analysts need a lot of skill, patience, time and experience in order to be able to make full use of BIRST. Even after a proper training period, it is not a wonderful experience working with BIRST. As a reporting analyst, it is a painful experience to have to work with such a cumbersome reporting tool. If given the opportunity, I would even leave the company to avoid working extensively with such a product. FYI, I have expert skills in Excel and SQL and moderate skills in VBA.