Eclipse Advances Open-Source BI Platform

Version 2.0 of the Eclipse Foundation's open-source Business Intelligence Reporting Tools project features improved charting and Java scripting.

The Eclipse Foundation is expected to announce Jan. 23 the release of the second version of its open-source Business Intelligence Reporting Tools project.

Release 2.0 of BIRT comes amid broader adoption of the BIRT platform, said Michael Thoma, a member of the BIRT marketing committee at Eclipse, and vice president of product marketing at Actuate.

"BIRT is riding the Eclipse wave to get wider and wider adoption, with a growing number of companies building on top of Eclipse," Thoma said.

Companies that have announced commitment to BIRT 2.0 include Actuate, IBM, Intel (TPTP Project), Pentaho, Scapa and Zend.

"Zend is a very intriguing one, in that they plan to incorporate BIRT as part of PHP," Thoma said.

BIRT 2.0 features a report component library to support reuse of open-source components. The new version of BIRT also supports large, persistent reports and new report types, along with improved charting and Java scripting.

While the 1.0 release of BIRT supported scripting, "We added a debugging environment for JavaScript, and we added Java as a scripting language," Thoma said.

"Lots of companies will get on board with these components and the ecosystem will start to grow," he said.

"BIRT 2.0 is going to enable an ecosystem that will revolutionize the way reporting is done in the future," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation.

Thoma said that with BIRT 1.0, the Eclipse Foundation targeted the 4.5 million Java developers in the world. But with BIRT 2.0, "were targeting those 4.5 million Java developers, plus 2.5 million PHP developers, plus 15 million Report developers, plus 150 million business intelligence users," he said.

Richard Daley, chief executive of Pentaho, said: "We like the focus on expanding the community to include report developers as well as Java developers. And we like the improvements in performance, particularly around large reports in HTML and PDF."

Andi Gutmans, co-founder and vice president of technology at Zend, said: "We believe reporting in the PHP world has great potential. Today, most reporting is home-grown. Zend is excited to broaden PHPs eco-system with BIRT 2.0.We believe that many BIRT 2.0 enhancements, such as CSS [Cascading Style Sheets] support, are much needed in the PHP space."

BIRT is a top-level project at Eclipse.

BIRT 2.0 builds on the Web design metaphor and adds support for importing CSS, persistent reports and page-on-demand for HTML. These changes make reports look and feel like their Web applications, Thoma said.

The changes also broaden BIRT to handle Web applications with larger reports, and to scale to support larger numbers of simultaneous users, Thoma said.

"BIRT is now moving beyond the domain of application developers programming reports (though those facilities are extended and strengthened with facilities like Cascading Style Sheets) and into the world that is dominated by Crystal Reports," said Philip Howard, research director at Bloor Research.


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