New and Notable Features within BIRT 2.2 Milestone 5

Introduction

BIRT 2.2 Milestone 5 has officially been released to the public. Below is a description of some of the key features that are now available in the M5 build. Keep in mind, as with all milestone releases, the product continues to evolve.

To review the projects slated for the 2.2 release, see the draft project plan, which is available here.

BIRT Chart Improvements

The Charting package continues to be a highlight for BIRT and with each milestone additional features are added to its already impressive set of capabilities. Some of the improvements include new icons, better error support, x-axis labels at tick marks, textual values on the y-axis for bubble charts, linear time scales for bar and line series, and the ability to use different aggregate functions per series when grouping data within the chart. As an example, if a data set exists that contains orders by date, a chart can be built to display a summation of quantity of orders and a count of orders grouped by day.


Multiple Aggregate Chart

Viewer Improvements

The BIRT Web Viewer example offers an AJAX based framework for viewing and navigating paginated HTML reports. Deployment of this example has been addressed with a new specific WTP project wizard and a BIRT tag library. You can get more detail on these improvements in the milestone 4 New and Notable. With milestone 5 the Viewer addresses some cleanup issues by implementing a session listener which removes temporary files that are created during a user session. Additionally the script tag which allows a Text element to contain client side JavaScript now functions as expected in the Web Viewer. This particular improvement will allow reports to be created which contain additional interactivity. For example, scripts can be added that rerun the report periodically, display checkboxes interspersed with data values, or perform client side validation of user input. Presented below is a report that executes every ten seconds. The check boxes determine a columns visibility with the next execution.


Using Client Side Script

Emitters

Emitters are used within the BIRT Reporting framework to format a specific output. Emitters can be added by implementing a set of Extension Points provided by the framework. Currently BIRT supports HTML, paginated HTML, PDF and Word emitters. Milestone 5 adds the ability to emit BIRT reports as PostScript documents. Additionally, the PDF emitter has been improved to support print to fit functionality as illustrated below. When print to fit is set correctly within the engine the PDF emitter will automatically scale the report output to fit on a single PDF page.


Print to Fit PDF Setting

Advanced Properties

Properties for any element in a BIRT report design can be set using the Property Editor. These include properties such as size, font, hyperlinks, and visibility. With Milestone 5 an advanced page is now available within the property editor that displays all properties for a given report element.


BIRT Property Editor

Miscellaneous

Milestone 5 includes many other changes including better predicate support within the XML data source, design engine API changes to support the upcoming crosstab report element, and changes to the new tag libraries to improve deployment.