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Friday, January 4, 2008

Introduction to the Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools

Eclipse's Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project is
an open source project based on the popular Eclipse IDE and is used to
build and deploy reports in a Java/J2EE environment. Some of the key
downloads available with the project include: (1) BIRT Designer: Used
to construct reports. At the center of BIRT is the report designer, which
is a set of Eclipse plug-ins that make up the designer perspective
providing drag-and-drop capabilities to quickly design reports. The
reports designs are created and stored in an XML format. (2) Report
Editor: The Report Editor is used to construct the report and acts as
a canvas for positioning and formatting report elements. Within this
View, there are tabs for Layout, Master Page, Script, XML Source, and
Preview. The XML Source tab displays the XML source code for the report
design. It is possible to edit the XML within this tab, although it is
generally best to use the Layout View. (3) Web Viewer: An example J2EE
application used to deploy reports, containing a JSP tag library to ease
the integration with existing web applications. Once report development
is complete, the reports can be deployed using the BIRT example Web
Viewer. The viewer has been improved for BIRT 2.2 and is an AJAX based
J2EE application that illustrates using the BIRT engine to generate
and render report content. (4) BIRT Charting package: Supports building
sophisticated actionable charts. The BIRT project had its first major
release in the summer of 2005 and has garnered over a million downloads
since its inception. The BIRT project web site includes an introduction,
tutorials, downloads, and examples of using BIRT. In this article, we
will begin by first describing the BIRT designer, which is used to build
report designs, and conclude by discussing the example BIRT Viewer,
which is used to deploy the designs and generate the completed reports.

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