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

Introduction

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.

M311/10/2009
2.6 M3
M412/15/2009
2.6 M4
M502/02/2010
2.6 M5
M603/16/2010
2.6 M6
M705/04/2010
2.6 M7
RC105/18/2010
2.6 RC1
RC205/25/2010
2.6 RC2
RC306/01/2010
2.6 RC3
RC406/08/2010
2.6 RC4
RC506/15/2010
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.

Internationalization

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.

Visual notifications to highlight modified library properties

Libraries provide report developers with the ability to write and 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. The outline view will be enhanced to give a visual indication of report items that have been further customized by the report developer. In addition, the report developer will be able to easily revert back to the original properties of the report item.
  • Proposed

    • Visual notification that item from library is overwritten [289728] (target milestone: 2.6.0 RC2)

New Polar / Radar Chart

BIRT provides a very extensive set of Charts with support for thirteen main chart types and many subtypes. This theme aims to enhance the set of BIRT charts by adding the Polar/Radar chart. The Radar charts can be used to display multivariate observations with an arbitrary number of variables. This new chart type would support standard radar style, bulls-eye and spider charts.
  • Proposed

    • BPS38- New Radar/Polar Chart type [178354] (target milestone: 2.6.0 M7)

Miscellaneous Enhancements in Charts

This theme aims to enhance the flexibility of the BIRT chart creation process by providing the report developer more options to customize the data intervals and display of charts.
  • Proposed

    • Birt chart engine will not render charts on AIX [192526] (target milestone: 2.6.0 M6)
    • Big number display issue in chart builder. [229538] (target milestone: 2.6.0 RC2)
    • BPS38- New Radar/Polar Chart type [178354] (target milestone: 2.6.0 M7)
    • Chart background image is repeated [252915] (target milestone: 2.6.0 M6)
    • Request for a pie chart starting at the 90 degrees and rotating clockwise. [303457] (target milestone: 2.6.0)
    • Allow a BIRT Chart cell to specify a fill pattern [305749] (target milestone: 2.6.0)
    • "Sort Locale" and "Sort Strength" should be added for chart sorting [13] [298673] (target milestone: 2.6.0 M7)
    • Provide a horizontal scroll bar when the contents in chart build is not shown completely [13] [296428] (target milestone: 2.6.0 M6)

Support multiple resource files for localization

This theme aims to enable the report developer to be able to specify multiple resource files for localization. This capability will allow a developer to share resource elements across multiple reports without having to create a resource file specific for each report.
  • Proposed

    • BIRT reports should allow multiple resource (localization) files [230313] (target milestone: 2.6.0)

ODA Context Sensitive Help

This theme aims to improve the usability of the data setup part of the report development process by adding support for custom context-specific help text. This capability will enhance the ODA framework to enable the report developers to provide their own specific context sensitive help for their data source properties in the BIRT Data Source and Data Set Editors.
  • Proposed

    • Support Custom context-sensitive help in Property Binding page in Data Source/Set Editor [302357] (target milestone: 2.6.0 RC2)

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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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