Highsoft: The Charting Engine for All

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Torstein Hønsi,Chief Product Officer and Founder
The mark of a true visionary is that they see challenges that come their way as an opportunity and not as a stop sign. The story of Torstein Hønsi follows a similar trail. Based out of Norway, well-known for its imposing mountains and glaciers, Hønsi was at a loss when he wanted to update his personal website with snow depth measurements of a local mountain. The existing charting tools in the market required browser plug-ins and duly frustrated, the aspiring entrepreneur decided to take things into his hands and build a solution that could work on most browsers.

He introduced the world to Highcharts, a unique set of data visualization tools that are purely JavaScript-based and allow users to publish interactive charts on the web and mobile, easily and reliably. Today, Hønsi’s progressive venture is creating a significant ripple in the industry as over 80 percent of global Fortune 500 companies as well as individual developers alike turn to Highcharts as the solution of choice for their data visualization needs.

A major reason behind Highsoft’s rising popularity is because the next-gen company debunks the idea of one-size-fits-all and bridges the limitations of packaged analytics solutions. To stay ahead in the age of information, CIOs today are investing heavily in strengthening analytics and business intelligence capabilities across their organization. This involves rolling out new technologies as well as modernizing legacy applications to better support real-time, data-driven decision-making. As a result, often in moments of urgency, organizations get swayed by a “tech-before-strategy approach,” and post-implementation realize the need for custom, homegrown solutions. “On the contrary Highsoft’s charting engine is designed to empower developers with limitless functionalities while being simple, reliable, and lightweight,” states Hønsi.

To draw a clearer picture, Highsoft offers four main solutions. While Highcharts is a general-purpose charting library, Highstock focuses on financial and high-volume use-cases. Similarly, Highmaps brings geographical visualizations to life, and Highcharts Cloud is a hosted or on-premise application for enterprises looking for a plug-and-play WYSIWYG chart authoring, hosting, and publishing solution. Always ahead of innovation, recently the company also released the Gantt module, built on top of Highcharts that offers a modern approach to creating interactive charts for allocation and coordination of activities and resources.

“All our libraries are built on the same rendering engine, producing standards-based SVG via JavaScript, and are implemented via an API that is clear, consistent, and easy to understand,” explains Hønsi. By default, all the charts feature advanced navigation and zooming, touch support, flexible annotation, and responsive rendering. The charts also include market-leading accessibility support, which renders them automatically readable and navigable by screen-readers. Beyond chart rendering, Highsoft even offers WYSIWYG chart editors that developers can drop into their applications, as well as an export server for those who need to batch-produce charts in PDF, vector, or raster formats.

Highsoft’s primary clientele are individual developers as well as the world’s largest companies that need easy-to-use charting tools that scale with their expanding needs to build in-house SaaS solutions. However, given their solutions’ robust functionality, the company is also experiencing a growing interest from verticals such as financial services, life sciences, and academia that are on the lookout for pure-play charting libraries. Often a complaint from data scientists in these verticals is that “packaged solutions only get 80 percent of the work done.”

Highsoft’s charting engine is designed to empower developers with limitless functionalities while being simple and lightweight

As such, Highsoft is an indispensable force, which ensures that a job is done to perfection by the organization’s own analytics practitioners. A large part of the company’s enterprise market also comprises OEMs who choose Highcharts over their own proprietary or other third-party solutions.

Fintech vendor BlueMatrix is one such example of an OEM that chose Highcharts for its sophisticated presentation-layer as it modernized their research publishing tools from generating static/PDF output to interactive web-based reports. They also made use of Highsoft’s WYSIWYG editor to enable non-technical personnel to easily author and publish charts without delay. In another instance, Elsevier, a major publisher of scientific, technical, and medical information, adapted and exceeded their modern chart accessibility requirements and expectations with Highsoft’s technology. “As a bonus to our community, this partnership made the industry-leading accessibility solution available for all our clients to enjoy,” quips Hønsi.

Through it all, the company steers away from an aggressive sales strategy and Hønsi comments, “We act as an engineering organization first, support organization second, and sales organization third.” In line with the requests of users, developers at Highsoft are always open to innovation, putting together a proof-of-concept, and working with clients as design partners. Highsoft never had to convince the “top brass” of its infallible value since their users serve as the advocates of their top-notch solution.

The company also showcases a highly active and engaged developer community and currently there are nearly 3,000 projects on GitHub that extend Highsoft’s functionality, over 20,000 questions (with answers) on StackOverflow, and 1,000 feature requests on UserVoice. “Building what the market needs is simply an exercise in listening. I spend quite a bit of time closely monitoring user feedback myself, as I believe our community is the lifeblood of our company,” affirms Hønsi. He continues, “Therefore, when the latest new, shining technology has fallen out of fashion, we remain a developer’s (not so) secret weapon.”

The future will see even promising products and ideas from this company and they are investing in new partnerships and sales channels. With a strong focus on maintaining their quality and customer-centric nature, Hønsi adds, “I am very proud that we have been able to create a company with global reach without compromising the culture and values of small-town Norway. Rather, we continue to build on it and in the process, have become one of the country’s most profitable companies.”

In the coming days, Highsoft plans to go all out in the big data and data science space, where the vast and growing R and Python community has embraced Highcharts with both arms. Clearly, the company is expanding in full swing and is not expected to slow down anytime soon.


Viki I Sogn, Norway

Torstein Hønsi,Chief Product Officer and Founder and Grethe Hjetland, CEO

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