Project Plan For Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT), version 2.6


This document lays out the feature and API set for the next feature release of the Eclipse BIRT project after 2.5, designated release 2.6.

Plans do not materialize out of nowhere, nor are they entirely static. To ensure the planning process is transparent and open to the entire Eclipse community, plans are posted in an embryonic form and then revised from time to time throughout the release cycle.

The first part of the plan deals with the important matters of release deliverables, release milestones, target operating environments, and release-to-release compatibility. These are all things that need to be clear for any release, even if no features were to change.

The remainder of the plan consists of plan items for the projects under the Eclipse BIRT project. Each plan item covers a feature or API that is to be added, or some aspect that is to be improved. Each plan item has its own entry in the Eclipse bugzilla database, with a title and a concise summary(usually a single paragraph) that explains the work item at a suitably high enough level so that everyone can readily understand what the work item is without having to understand the nitty-gritty detail.

Please send comments about this draft plan to the BIRT Developer mailing list.

Release Deliverables

This release of BIRT will focus on providing the same downloads as BIRT 2.5.

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Release Milestones

  • The BIRT 2.6 Release will follow the Helios simultaneous release milestones

Our target is to complete and release BIRT 2.6 with the Helios Coordinated release.

For information about new features assigned to each milestone please refer to the bugzilla database. The bugzilla database will be updated on an ongoing basis as the plan progresses.

2.6 M3
2.6 M4
2.6 M5
2.6 M6
2.6 M7
2.6 RC1
2.6 RC2
2.6 RC3
2.6 RC4
2.6 Final

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Target Environments

In order to remain current, each release of an Eclipse project targets reasonably current versions of underlying operating environments and other Eclipse projects on which it depends.

Most of Eclipse, and all of BIRT, is "pure" Java code and has no direct dependence on the underlying operating system. For BIRT, the chief dependence is on the Eclipse Platform, Graphical Editor Framework (GEF), Modeling Framework (EMF), and on the Java 2 Platform that runs it.

The Eclipse BIRT 2.6 release depends on the following compatibility stacks:

BIRT 2.6 Reference Stack for JDK 1.5

  • Java 2 platform Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.5
  • Eclipse Platform Runtime Binary 3.6
  • Graphical Editor Framework (GEF) Runtime 3.6
  • Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) 2.6
  • Data Tools Platform Project 1.8 (DTP)
  • Web Tools Project (WTP) 3.2

BIRT 2.6 Reference Stack for JDK 1.6 (This is only a proposal and depends on whether various projects provide support for JDK 1.6)

  • Java 2 platform Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.6
  • Eclipse Platform Runtime Binary <TBD>
  • Graphical Editor Framework (GEF) Runtime <TBD>
  • Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) <TBD>
  • Data Tools Platform Project (DTP) <TBD>
  • Web Tools Project (WTP) <TBD>

The Eclipse Platform and BIRT run in a variety of operating environments. Testing is focused on a handful of popular combinations of operating system and Java 2 Platform; these are our reference platforms. Eclipse BIRT undoubtedly runs fine in many operating environments beyond the reference platforms we test. However, since we do not systematically test them we cannot vouch for them. Problems encountered when running Eclipse BIRT on non-reference platforms that cannot be recreated on any reference platform will be given lower priority than problems with running Eclipse BIRT on a reference platform.

For BIRT 2.6, the project team plans to tests and validate the following reference platforms:

Eclipse BIRT Report Framework 2.6 and Eclipse BIRT RCP Report Designer 2.6 Reference Platforms
Operating system Processor architecture Window system Java 2 Platform
Microsoft Windows XP Intel x86 Win32 Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Intel x86 Win32 Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
Microsoft Windows Vista Intel x86 Win32 Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS 4.0
Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 4.0, 5.0
Intel x86 GTK Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0

Eclipse BIRT Runtime 2.6 and Eclipse BIRT Charts 2.6 Reference Platforms
Operating system Processor architecture Window system Java 2 Platform
Microsoft Windows XP Intel x86 Win32* Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Intel x86 Win32* Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
Microsoft Windows Vista Intel x86 Win32* Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS 4.0
Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 4.0, 5.0
Intel x86 GTK* Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 Intel x86 YaST* Sun Java 2 Standard Edition, version 5.0, 6.0
*Window system only required when displaying charts within SWT or SWING windows.

BIRT Application Server Reference Platform
Apache Tomcat 5.5.x, 6.0.16
JBoss AS 5.1
Oracle Weblogic Application Server 8.1, 9.0, 10.3
IBM Websphere Application Server 6.1

BIRT JDBC Reference Platforms
MySQL Connector/J 3.x JDBC driver
Derby V10.5.1.1 JDBC driver

BIRT Browsers and Viewers Reference Platforms
Mozilla Firefox 2.0, 3.0
Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, 8.0
Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0, 8.0, 9.0

Community Tested Operating Environments

Due to the finite resources available to the BIRT project, we would like to encourage the BIRT community to contribute to testing BIRT in operating environments other than those listed as target operating environments for the 2.6 release of BIRT and to share this information with the rest of the community. If you have been able to test BIRT in a non-targeted operating environment please take a few minutes to update this wiki page and report this information there. If you have encountered bugs during your testing, please report these in bugzilla.


Eclipse is designed as the basis for internationalized products. The user interface elements provided by the various Eclipse projects, including dialogs and error messages, are externalized. The English strings for BIRT are provided as the default resource bundles. Translations are provided with this release for French (fr_FR), German (de_DE), Spanish (es_ES), Japanese (ja_JP), Simplified Chinese (zh_CN), and Korean (ko_KR).

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Compatibility with Previous Releases

BIRT 2.6 will be compatible with earlier versions of BIRT to the greatest extent possible. The nature and scope of some of the key plan items for BIRT 2.6 are such that the only feasible solutions might break compatibility. In other regards, BIRT 2.6 will be compatible with 2.x and 1.x. We also aim to minimize the effort required to port an existing plug-in to the 2.6 APIs.

Compatibility of Release 2.6 with Prior Releases

BIRT 2.6 will be compatible with prior releases of BIRT unless noted otherwise. The detailed compatibility statement is listed below. In this statement, "BIRT" refers to all BIRT components: BIRT Report Framework, BIRT Runtime, and BIRT Chart SDK.

API Contract Compatibility: BIRT 2.6 will be upwards contract-compatible with BIRT prior releases to the greatest extent possible. All incompatibility exceptions will be documented.Downward contract compatibility is not supported. There is no guarantee that compliance with BIRT 2.6 APIs will ensure compliance with prior BIRT release APIs. Refer to general Eclipse document on Evolving APIs for a discussion of the kinds of API changes that maintain contract compatibility.

The BIRT Chart UI API 2.6 is compatible with the 2.x.x API's but not compatible with the v1.x APIs due to a full redesign of the Chart UI in the BIRT 2.0 release.

Binary (plug-in) Compatibility: The BIRT 2.6 plug-in framework will be upwards binary-compatible with prior BIRT release plug-ins to the greatest extent possible. Downward plug-in compatibility is not supported. Plug-ins for BIRT 2.6 will not be usable in prior BIRT releases. Extension plug-ins for prior BIRT releases will be upwards binary-compatible with BIRT 2.6.

Source Compatibility: BIRT 2.6 will be upwards source-compatible with prior BIRT releases to the greatest extent possible. This means that source files written to use prior BIRT release APIs will successfully compile and run against BIRT 2.6 APIs. Downward source compatibility is not supported. If source files use new BIRT APIs, they will not be usable with an earlier version of BIRT.

Report Design Compatibility:BIRT 2.6 will be upwards report design compatible with prior BIRT releases unless noted otherwise. This means that reports created with prior BIRT releases can be successfully opened by BIRT 2.6 and upgraded to a 2.6 format.

Non-compliant usage of API's: All non-API methods and classes, and certainly everything in a package with "internal" in its name, are considered implementation details which may vary between operating environment and are subject to change without notice. Client plug-ins that directly depend on anything other than what is specified in the BIRT API are inherently unsupportable and receive no guarantees about compatibility within a single release much less with an earlier releases.

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Themes and Priorities

Continuing on the themes for previous releases of BIRT, the BIRT project's overriding release 2.6 theme remains extending the Eclipse platform to provide infrastructure and tools that allow application developers to design, deploy, generate and view reports within their applications. In this context,the BIRT project also adopts and supports key themes within the overall Eclipse planning process.

Support Newspaper Layout

As BIRT reports gain prevalence in reporting applications, more types of report layouts are encountered. This theme aims to add support for the newspaper page layout in BIRT. In this layout, the data from a query is shown in multiple columns within the same page. The data rows wrap onto the next column within the same page before flowing onto the next page.
  • Proposed
    • [Improve Report Layout Capabilities] Newspaper Page Layout [133218] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

Support Master Page selection based on Page Sequences

This theme aims to provide the capability to customize the report layout based on the page number by using different master pages based on page sequences. This functionality will be especially useful for reports which have a title page followed by data pages. This capability can also be used for cases where different layouts are needed for odd and even numbered pages.
  • Proposed
    • [Improve Page Break Management] Support for Page Sequences as described in Page Setup Spec [153316] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

Allow selection of multiple values for cascading parameters

This project aims to add support for selection of multiple values in cascading parameters. This would enable users to select multiple values from the parameter list and BIRT would return the results that would satisfy any of the selected values (similar to an "in" clause of a sql query).
  • Proposed
    • Allow cascading parameters to allow multiple selections [208477] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

Support multiple hyperlinks in all report items that support hyperlinks

BIRT 2.5 added the capability to create multiple hyperlinks in charts. This theme aims to extend that capability even further by providing the ability to create multiple hyperlinks in any report item that support hyperlinks. This will enable report developers to design reports such that report consumers can drill-through and analyze report data in multiple paths.
  • Proposed
    • Allow multiple hyperlinks from all report items that support hyperlinks [265391] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

Add visual notifications of status of report items added from a library

Libraries provide report developers with the ability to write modular code and to share code and report items in a team development environment. This theme aims to provide more visual notifications on the status and relationship of the library items used within a particular report design so that the report developers can fully understand and leverage libraries especially in large development teams.
  • Proposed
    • Visual notification that item from library is overwritten [289728] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

Support crosstab level visibility

This theme aims to provide an option to set the visibility of a crosstab level. This would enable the report developer to customize the display of the crosstab and to move crosstab levels as needed, without displaying empty columns corresponding to the original cell of that level.
  • Proposed
    • [Crosstab improvements] Support crosstab level visibility [251775] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

Improve Report Layout capabilities

BIRT supports many different kinds of report layouts. This theme aims to enable the BIRT developer to easily create those layouts and also to provide more options to position report items appropriately to achieve the desired layout.
  • Proposed
    • [Improve Report Layout Capabilities] footer cannot repeat [148932] (target milestone: 2.6.0)
    • [Improve Report Layout Capabilities] Placement of headers and footers on a landscape page [181885] (target milestone: 2.6.0)
    • [Improve Report Layout Capabilities] Need ability to align group footer to bottom of available space on page [212049] (target milestone: 2.6.0)
    • Support repeat table column [263204] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

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Appendix : Help Wanted

We welcome any contributions from the community towards the BIRT project. This help can be in the form of adding new functionality to BIRT, submitting bug fixes/enhancements to the current BIRT code and testing BIRT on new platforms.
Please refer to this bugzilla query for the list of enhancements that we need help on. For more information on how you can contribute to the BIRT project, refer to How to Contribute to the BIRT Project

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