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

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
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Donna Yasay, President of HomeGrid Forum, today discussed with a panel of technology peers how certification programs are at the forefront of interoperability, and the answer for vendors looking to keep up with today's growing industry for smart home innovation. "To ensure multi-vendor interoperability, accredited industry certification programs should be used for every product to provide credibility and quality assurance for retail and carrier based customers looking to add ever increasing num...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss 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 a...
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
What are the successful IoT innovations from emerging markets? What are the unique challenges and opportunities from these markets? How did the constraints in connectivity among others lead to groundbreaking insights? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Carmen Feliciano, a Principal at AMDG, will answer all these questions and share how you can apply IoT best practices and frameworks from the emerging markets to your own business.
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions 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. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
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.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
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.