Click here to close now.


Eclipse Authors: Liz McMillan, XebiaLabs Blog, Ken Fogel, Sematext Blog, Marcin Warpechowski

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 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 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
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, will provide an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....