Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: JP Morgenthal, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, XebiaLabs 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
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a Big Data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to the industrial IoT sector. The problem Big Data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave, discussed how as IoT is increasingly adopted by industrial markets, there is going to be an increased demand for sensor data from the outermos...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
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...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...