- BIRT Project Overview
- From the Eclipse Foundation Announcement: BIRT 1.0
- Principal References
The Eclipse Foundation has announced general availability of the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) Project version 1.0. The BIRT Project "exploits the convergence of analytics and operations in application development, with its trend toward embedding BI functionality within Java applications. Its goal is to allow Java developers to easily integrate business intelligence and reporting capability into enterprise Java applications and commercial products."
Eclipse is a not-for-profit "open source community whose projects are focused on providing an extensible development platform and application frameworks for building software. Eclipse provides extensible tools and frameworks that span the software development lifecycle, including support for modeling, language development environments for Java, C/C++ and others, testing and performance, business intelligence, rich client applications and embedded development."
The Eclipse open platform for tool integration uses a "common public license that provides royalty free source code and world wide redistribution rights. Eclipse based tools give developers freedom of choice in a multi-language, multi-platform, multi-vendor environment."
The Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) Project was created as a top level Eclipse project in September 2004. The release of BIRT version 1.0 "marks the culmination of Eclipse community participation during which hundreds of members of the community provided their feedback to shape the future of the project. BIRT has been downloaded 9,000 times since a preview version was made available in late February."
BIRT version 1.0 includes a report designer, a report engine, and a complete set of APIs which provide the ability to integrate and extend BIRT. The Eclipse Report Designer is "an Eclipse-based desktop authoring environment that generates reports based on a comprehensive XML-based report design. In addition, it provides a rich business chart generation capability."
The Report Designer plugin provides a number of tools, including a 'Data Explorer' which "organizes data sources (connections) and data sets (queries), allowing you to test your data set to ensure the report receives the correct data. A 'Layout View' WYSIWYG editor supports drag and drop creation of the presentation portion of your report. A 'Property Editor' presents the most commonly used properties in a convenient format that makes editing quick and easy. The 'Code Editor' tool enables scripting to add business logic to reports during data access, during report generation, or during viewing; this code editor provides standard Eclipse features for editing your scripts: expression builder, syntax coloring, auto-complete, and more. An 'Outline Tool' supports the organization of BIRT reports as a tree structure with the overall report as the root, and separate categories for styles, report content, data sources, data sets, and report parameters."
The BIRT Eclipse Report Engine "enables reports to be generated within any Java application using report designs created by the Designer. BIRT Report Engine is packaged as a JAR file that can be added to a J2EE application. It has four main integration points with an application: (1) Parameter UI, in which user specifies some kind of input, called a report parameter; (2) Running the Report, triggered when the user submits the parameter form; (3) Data Access, whereby reports obtain data from Java applications; (4) Viewing the output of the report."
According to the Eclipse announcement, BIRT "enables HTML and PDF reports to be created in a matter of hours, a great alternative to coding the same functionality from scratch, using JavaServer Pages (JSP) and Java. Using BIRT, developers are able to quickly respond to changes in user requirements, while delivering and maintaining functionally rich, perfectly formatted reports to their end users in either PDF or HTML format."
Furthermore, BIRT 1.0 "provides excellent support for internationalization and localization to save the developer time in customizing reports for particular languages and locales. For instance, a single report can be created that displays strings in the end user's language. BIRT also provides locale-aware data formatting, meaning that a date, currency or numeric format can be applied to a report based on the end user's locale with dynamic formatting compensating for the typical lengths of language descriptors by automatically adjusting the size of report items to fit their content. The Report Designer is available in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish interfaces."
"The Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools Project addresses a broad range of needs in the business intelligence and reporting space using the Eclipse platform.
The business intelligence and reporting space is focused on tools and capabilities that extract data from data sources, process that data, and present the processed information to the end users. The information may be needed to enable the users to perform their operational or analytical job functions, or it may be customer-centric information such as a transaction statement. The capabilities can range from application- and production-level reporting, through ad hoc user-driven query tools, to highly interactive multi-dimensional online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining tools. While many business intelligence and reporting applications access operational data sources, it is often the case that developers provide specific data warehouses to support the business intelligence and reporting needs of an application. The tools in this space can include facilities to help build these data warehouses.
It should be noted that a given application often needs a range of complementary capabilities in this area to meet the needs of different users of the application. For example, consider components of an online order processing application: The individual order invoices will be printed for inclusion in the shipping box and the shipping clerk will need an online or printed shipping list (both production-level reports); while a product line manager may want to perform ad hoc queries to see which products generate the most returns; while the purchasing agent may use analytics to look for trends and improve stocking levels. Providing a range of coordinated and complementary capabilities under the Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools Project is intended to ensure that the developed technology can effectively be used to meet this broad range of needs...
Initial Goals: Initially, the Project will focus on leveraging the Eclipse platform to provide infrastructure and tools for the designing, deploying, generating and viewing of reports in an organization, including ad hoc query and reporting tools. While not an initial focus, the BIRT project scope includes complementing these reporting capabilities with Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) and Business Intelligence dashboard functionality. Over time, but not in the initial scope, the creation of additional projects is anticipated and encouraged to address additional aspects of business intelligence, such as Executive Information Systems (EIS), statistical analysis, modeling capabilities (what-if analysis), Data Mining Tools, Data Warehouse Modeling Tools, Extract Transform and Load (ETL) tools and Data Quality Tools.
The initial deliverable of the Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools Project is to provide a robust platform that can be used to quickly and effectively create and deploy reports with any degree of complexity without having the developer create the data access, processing and formatting logic using Java code or components. In the majority of cases, the report developer will design a report within the Eclipse framework using a 100% visual design paradigm. However, in recognition of the fact that the variety of report layouts and complexity of data access is infinite, the project will also support extensive programmatic customization of the report generation processes, including programmatic creation of report designs..." [from 'BIRT Project Description and Scope']
The Eclipse Foundation, an open source community committed to the implementation of a universal development platform, today announced that the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project version 1.0 is now generally available. BIRT 1.0 marks the culmination of Eclipse community participation during which hundreds of members of the community provided their feedback to shape the future of the project. BIRT has been downloaded 9,000 times since a preview version was made available in late February.
The goal of BIRT is to allow Java developers to easily integrate business intelligence and reporting capability into enterprise Java applications and commercial products. BIRT was created as a top level Eclipse project in September 2004. The project is part of the Eclipse strategy to provide open source tools and frameworks that span the software development lifecycle.
"Eclipse's BIRT project exploits the convergence of analytics and operations in application development, with its trend toward embedding BI functionality within Java applications. It's safe to say that a portion of Java developers and their organizations will prefer a free, standards-based evelopment tool to commercial-based options." Wayne Eckerson, Director of Research, TDWI
"There's no doubt in my mind that as far as the majority of enterprise developers are concerned, Eclipse has won — at least, outside of Microsoft's sphere of influence. With major tools vendors such as Actuate, Borland, BEA and Sybase lining up to join IBM/Rational in porting their tools to Eclipse, a vibrant ecology of plug-ins, and an architecture designed explicitly to support extensibility and integration, Eclipse is more than just a development platform, it is a full life-cycle platform." Carl Zetie's Blog, Forrester Research, Inc., April 2005.
BIRT benefits Java developers by minimizing the time and effort associated with hand coding core application functions such as reporting and analysis. BIRT enables HTML and PDF reports to be created in a matter of hours, a great alternative to coding the same functionality from scratch, using JavaServer Pages (JSP) and Java. Using BIRT, developers are able to quickly respond to changes in user requirements, while delivering and maintaining functionally rich, perfectly formatted reports to their end users in either PDF or HTML format.
Furthermore, BIRT 1.0 provides excellent support for internationalization and localization to save the developer time in customizing reports for particular languages and locales. For instance, a single report can be created that displays strings in the end user's language. BIRT also provides locale-aware data formatting, meaning that a date, currency or numeric format can be applied to a report based on the end user's locale with dynamic formatting compensating for the typical lengths of language descriptors by automatically adjusting the size of report items to fit their content. This avoids the need to test a report with every possible translation. The Report designer is available in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish interfaces.
"BIRT 1.0 extends the Eclipse platform to provide infrastructure and tools that allow application developers to easily design, generate and integrate reports within their applications," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "BIRT is a natural extension for Eclipse and it supports key themes within the overall Eclipse community which include designing extensible functionality for broad community appeal and providing a tool that is enterprise ready, while remaining simple to use."
BIRT 1.0 includes:
Eclipse Report Designer: an Eclipse-based desktop authoring environment that generates reports based on a comprehensive XML-based report design. In addition, it provides a rich business chart generation capability.
Eclipse Report Engine: enables reports to be generated within any Java application using report designs created by the Designer
Complete Set of APIs: provide the ability to integrate and extend BIRT.
More feature detail can be found by visiting http://eclipse.org/birt/intro/.
"BIRT 1.0 delivers all of the functionality required for the developer to rapidly design, test and deploy reports and charts that satisfy complex end user requirements," said Mark Coggins, member of Eclipse Foundation Board. "While the BIRT Project Management Committee has lead the effort to deliver BIRT 1.0, the Eclipse community has refined and shaped the feature set to be more comprehensive and more extensible."
Companies are Already Supporting BIRT
"BIRT will demonstrate the value of embedding Business Intelligence and reporting functionality into custom applications and commercial tools to the Open Source community," said Pete Cittadini, president and CEO of Actuate Corporation. "Actuate is launching Actuate BIRT simultaneously with Eclipse's release of BIRT 1.0 to provide support, maintenance and indemnification services, which we hope will spur the adoption of BIRT by addressing the common concerns related to adopting Open Source technology."
"BIRT 1.0 is functionally equivalent to other BI and reporting technology that is available today, and will be incorporated into the forthcoming release of Scapa Test and Performance Platform 3.2," said Mike Norman, chief executive and president of Scapa Technologies. "BIRT reports will enhance the power of our testing, diagnosis and monitoring capabilities across multiple points in the application lifecycle by giving users increased visibility into application performance."
"BIRT will be leveraged in our DoorKeeper product to merge data from Telelogic DOORS and the Rational Software Development Platform in order to provide integrated reports which enable teams to ensure designs meet requirements," said Cory Bialowas, director of Product Development at EmbeddedPlus. "End users will be presented with richly formatted HTML reports that seamlessly present information from both sources. The process of investigation of BIRT to a working prototype in DoorKeeper took just six weeks."
"We have already incorporated a preview build of BIRT into Innoopract's Yoxos Eclipse Distribution, and are already planning to include BIRT 1.0 now that it is available", said Eric von der Heyden, managing director of Innoopract. "BIRT will be even more widely adopted once distributed in Yoxos, enabling Business Intelligence and reporting functionality to be rapidly developed to add value to many types of applications and their end users."
To Find Out More
Those who wish to download BIRT 1.0, become involved in the future development of BIRT or wish to provide feedback via the BIRT newsgroup can do so by visiting www.eclipse.org/birt/.
- Announcement 2005-06-06: "Eclipse Brings Open Source to Business Intelligence Market. Eclipse BIRT 1.0 Leverages Leadership with Java Developers to Integrate Application Development and Business Intelligence."
- Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools:
- "Eclipse Issues BIRT 1.0 BI Software. Actuate Backs Reporting Tool with Indemnification, Support Services." By Tom Sullivan. From InfoWorld (June 06, 2005).
- "Actuate BIRT Launched. Actuate Announces Annual Subscription-Based Indemnification, Maintenance and Support to Promote Adoption of BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools)."