Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, XebiaLabs Blog, Ken Fogel, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Linux Containers, Eclipse

Open Source Cloud: Article

Developing an Application Using the Eclipse BIRT Report Engine API

Provide report generation and rendering services

The Eclipse platform is an open source, integrated system of application development tools that you implement and extend using a plug-in interface. The Eclipse Business Intelligence Reporting Tool (BIRT) is a set of plug-in extensions that enable a developer to add reporting functionality to an application. BIRT provides a Report Engine API that a developer can use to create a customized report generator application. The org.eclipse.birt.report.engine.api package contains a set of interfaces and implementation classes that supports integrating the runtime part of BIRT into an application.

The BIRT Report Engine can provide report generation and rendering services in the following environments:

  • Stand-alone engine: A Java developer uses a stand-alone engine to render a BIRT report from a report design (.rptdesign) file. In this environment, the Java developer creates a command-line application that writes a report to disk, either in HTML or PDF format.
  • BIRT report viewer: BIRT Report Designer uses the BIRT report viewer to view a report as paginated HTML. The BIRT report viewer is a Web application that runs in the Tomcat Application Server embedded in Eclipse. This viewer contains an embedded BIRT report engine.
  • Customized report designer: A customized report design environment uses an embedded BIRT report engine to preview a report.
  • Web application: A Web application similar to the BIRT report viewer uses an embedded BIRT report engine to generate a Web-based report.
This article describes how to develop a customized report generation application that performs the following tasks:
  • Creates and configures a report engine
  • Opens a report design or report document
  • Accesses data from a data source
  • Generates a report in a supported output format
  • Shuts down the engine
Creating and Configuring a Report Engine
The main interfaces and classes in the org.eclipse.birt.report.engine.api package are:
  • ReportEngine
  • EngineConfig
  • IReportRunnable
  • IRenderOption and its descendants
  • IEngineTask and its descendants
A report engine is an instantiation of the ReportEngine class. This object is the key component in any reporting application. It provides access to runnable report designs, parameters, the structure of a report design, and the task for generating a report from a report design. You can use the ReportEngine object to perform the following tasks:
  • Get a configuration object.
  • Open a report design or a report document.
  • Create an engine task to get parameter definitions and set parameter values.
  • Create an engine task to access data from a data set.
  • Get supported report formats and MIME types.
  • Create an engine task to run a report or render a report to an output format.
  • Create an engine task to extract data from a report document.
  • Clean up and shut down the engine.
A single report engine object can generate multiple reports from multiple report designs. Each application, whether it's stand-alone or Web-based, only needs to create one ReportEngine instance. The BIRT report engine is thread-safe, so this single-instance recommendation is not a restriction. At termination, the application should call shutdown( ) to unload extensions and delete temporary files.

The EngineConfig class contains the configuration settings for the report engine. Use the EngineConfig object to specify the settings for the following properties:

  • HTML emitter configuration for custom handling of images or actions for HTML output
  • Logging to set the logging file location and level
  • Platform context to indicate whether the application and engine home are in a stand-alone environment or packaged as a WAR file
  • Resource files to set the location where the reporting application can access libraries and properties files
  • Scripting configuration to provide external values and Java resources to scripting methods
The engine home is the key property that the report engine requires. The report engine cannot parse the report design or run the report without a defined engine home. For a stand-alone application, the engine home is an absolute path to a file system location. For an application running from a WAR file on an application server, the engine home is a relative path in the WAR file.

Two engine configuration properties depend on whether the environment in which the application runs is stand-alone or in a WAR file on an application server. These properties are the platform context and the HTML emitter configuration. The platform context provides the report engine with the mechanism to access files. The HTML emitter configuration provides the functionality for processing images and handling hyperlinking and bookmark actions.

A ReportEngine constructor takes the EngineConfig object as its argument. If the configuration object is null, the report engine uses the default configuration. If the configuration object is null, the environment must provide a BIRT_HOME variable that specifies the directory containing the engine plug-ins and JAR files.

Listing 1 shows how to set up a report engine in a stand-alone application. The application uses the engine home located in the BIRT runtime directory. The report output format is HTML. The application configures the HTML emitter and creates the report engine using the settings contained in the EngineConfig object.

Opening a Report Design or Report Document
BIRT Report Engine can generate a report from either a report design or an existing report document. To open a report design, call one of the openReportDesign( ) methods on ReportEngine. These methods instantiate an IReportRunnable object using a String object that specifies the path to a report design or an input stream.

To open a report document, call the ReportEngine.openReportDocument( ) method. This method instantiates an IReportDocument object using a String object that specifies the path to a report document (.rptdocument) file. This method returns the IReportDocument object. You must handle the EngineException that these methods throw.

The IReportRunnable object provides direct access to basic properties of the report design. The names of report design properties are static String fields, such as IReportRunnable.AUTHOR. To access a report design property, use the getProperty( ) method with a string argument that contains one of these fields.

To access and set the values of parameters, use methods on a parameter definition task object, described later in this article. Listing 2 shows how to open a report design and find a property value. If the engine cannot open the specified report design, the code shuts down the engine. The variable, engine, is a ReportEngine object.

The IReportDocument object provides access to the data in a report and the report's structure. IReportDocument provides methods to retrieve table of content entries, bookmarks, and page information.

To access table of content entries, use the findTOC( ) method. This method takes a TOCNode argument and returns a TOCNode object. To find the root table of contents entry, use a null argument. To find the subentries of a table of contents entry, use the getChildren( ) method. This method returns a list of TOCNode objects. From a TOCNode object, you can retrieve the display value of the entry and a Bookmark object.


More Stories By Jason Weathersby

Jason Weathersby is a member of the extended BIRT development team at Actuate Corporation and has backgrounds in both computer science and technical writing. He has many years experience in technical consulting, training, writing, and publishing about reporting, business intelligence tools, and database technologies.

More Stories By Tom Bondur

Tom Bondur is a member of the extended BIRT development team at Actuate Corporation and has backgrounds in both computer science and technical writing. He has many years experience in technical consulting, training, writing, and publishing about reporting, business intelligence tools, and database technologies.

More Stories By Jane Tatchell

Jane Tatchell is a content development manager in the Developer Communications group of Actuate Engineering.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, discussed the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filterin...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Much of IT terminology is often misused and misapplied. Modernization and transformation are two such terms. They are often used interchangeably even though they mean different things and have very different connotations. Indeed, it is somewhat safe to assume that in IT any transformative effort is likely to also have a modernizing effect, and thus, we can see these as levels of improvement efforts. However, many businesses are being led to believe if they don’t transform now they risk becoming ...
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
It’s 2016: buildings are smart, connected and the IoT is fundamentally altering how control and operating systems work and speak to each other. Platforms across the enterprise are networked via inexpensive sensors to collect massive amounts of data for analytics, information management, and insights that can be used to continuously improve operations. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Chemel, Co-Founder and CTO of Digital Lumens, will explore: The benefits sensor-networked systems bring to ...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...