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Home » Eclipse Projects » BIRT » open source BIRT vs Actuate?
open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366463] Sat, 03 January 2009 07:29 Go to next message
Tom Eugelink is currently offline Tom EugelinkFriend
Messages: 817
Registered: July 2009
Senior Member
So, I'm feeling my way around BIRT a bit. Have used JasperReports before, version 1.x to be exact, and need to upgrade that to a new level. I'm impressed with the Eclipse software, I use the IDE and other libraries, so I figure I should take a peek at BIRT also.

It appears BIRT is only partial open source. I read some articles about "this and that is not available in the open source BIRT". Also the birt-exchange website is confusing; I really hate the mixing of open source and closed source stuff under the same name.

Is there any place where the dynamics of the BIRT project is explained; what is open, what is closed? I'd like to know what I'm getting into; "oh yes, you can print dates on a report, but then you need the commercial BIRT" so to speak ;-)

Tom
Re: open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366466 is a reply to message #366463] Sat, 03 January 2009 12:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eclipse UserFriend
Originally posted by: johnw.innoventsolutions.com

Tom,

The best way to describe it is like so without getting into too much
detail, BIRT is not a product. BIRT is a platform built on top of the
Eclipse framework. The BIRT platform can be broken down into three areas:

Design Engine API
Report Engine API
Chart Engine API

Everything that you think of as "BIRT the Product", are just things
built on top of those API's. The BIRT report designer in Eclipse is just
a series of Eclipse plugins that wrap the design of reports via the
design engine API. When you click on preview or run report, your
wrapping the Report Engine API. When you build charts, they are added to
reports as extensions that call the Chart Engine API.

All three of these API's are expendable. You can easily write extensions
to any of these three API's. For example, if you need to render your
reports to a custom XML for use in some sort of XSLT transformation, you
can write an Emitter extension point to do that for you. If you need
to connect to some sort of custom data source, such as a Cobol data
source or Clipper database, you could write an ODA extension.

With that said, there are two main differences between open source BIRT
and Actuates BIRT. First being the obvious, the Commercial BIRT has a
lot of really nice extensions that the OSS BIRT does not. So when you
hear things like "this is not available in the open source BIRT", it
means that the extension point was written for the commercial BIRT
offerings. The second is the tie ins to their commercial server side
products. This opens up a whole other discussion about what the
different Actuate products do to meet clients needs. Outside of this,
there are no major differences. The commercial BIRT products, Actuate
BIRT Report Designer, Business Reports Studio, and the commercial
extensions are all built on top of the core BIRT engine. If you write a
report in the open source BIRT and run it in iServer, it will run. The
same "should" be true if you design a report in the commercial BIRT
Designer and run it in the open source report viewer, given the
constraints that you do not use any of the additional extension points
(flash charts, data sources, etc).

I hope that helps,
John

tbee wrote:
> So, I'm feeling my way around BIRT a bit. Have used JasperReports
> before, version 1.x to be exact, and need to upgrade that to a new
> level. I'm impressed with the Eclipse software, I use the IDE and other
> libraries, so I figure I should take a peek at BIRT also.
>
> It appears BIRT is only partial open source. I read some articles about
> "this and that is not available in the open source BIRT". Also the
> birt-exchange website is confusing; I really hate the mixing of open
> source and closed source stuff under the same name.
>
> Is there any place where the dynamics of the BIRT project is explained;
> what is open, what is closed? I'd like to know what I'm getting into;
> "oh yes, you can print dates on a report, but then you need the
> commercial BIRT" so to speak ;-)
>
> Tom
Re: open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366472 is a reply to message #366466] Sun, 04 January 2009 08:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Tom Eugelink is currently offline Tom EugelinkFriend
Messages: 817
Registered: July 2009
Senior Member
> The
> same "should" be true if you design a report in the commercial BIRT
> Designer and run it in the open source report viewer, given the
> constraints that you do not use any of the additional extension points
> (flash charts, data sources, etc).
>
> I hope that helps,

Yes. But not what I was looking for, so I just now revisited the birt-exchange website again.

IMHO it is too fluffy. It took me clicking through 6 pages to get to some kind of comparison of the commercial vs open source and I still don't have a good feeling why I should be picking the commercial version. I mean; it's not that expensive. There is way too much yadda yadda between the information. Usually websurfers don't stick that long on a website (I didn't the first time :-)
So there are some additional data drivers and flash components. But using JDBC I can access any database, why would I want additional datadrivers? And the prebuild flash objects? What do they do? Demo's? And what is that "software delivered as plugins"? There is load of text, but not enough relevant information on that website. IMHO.

Not sure if it is any use to you, but it certain contributes to my confusion. I do get the impression that the open source version is fairly complete and only some -no idea why I need them- drivers and the flash components are not included.
Re: open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366474 is a reply to message #366472] Sun, 04 January 2009 09:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eclipse UserFriend
Originally posted by: johnw.innoventsolutions.com

I don't know your requirements, so I couldn't tell you what the
commercial offerings give you that the open source one doesn't.

Your still doing an apples to apples comparison, which isn't fair. "Open
Source" BIRT is not a product, its a framework. The "commercial" BIRT
products are products that are built on top of BIRT, or integrate BIRT
functionality. It would be like comparing a product with the language
that produced it. For example, there is no open source equivelent to
iServer (at least not developed by Actuate). iServer is a commercial
product that run several report types (ERD Pro, Analytic Cubes,
eSpreadsheet, and BIRT reports). It uses BIRT technology to handle BIRT
reports and charts. Business Reports Studio is a product that allows
users to generate BIRT reports within a portal. BIRT Report Designer is
a product that integrates with iServer and offers a front end to develop
reports using the commercial extensions and plugins.

I have both types of clients, ones that use the commercial stuff, and
the ones that use only the open source stuff. It just depends on your
needs. I'm not affiliated with Actuate, so I'm not trying to sell you on
the commercial stuff, nor can I really help with the marketing speak on
the BIRT Exchange.

John

tbee wrote:
>> The same "should" be true if you design a report in the commercial
>> BIRT Designer and run it in the open source report viewer, given the
>> constraints that you do not use any of the additional extension points
>> (flash charts, data sources, etc).
>>
>> I hope that helps,
>
> Yes. But not what I was looking for, so I just now revisited the
> birt-exchange website again.
>
> IMHO it is too fluffy. It took me clicking through 6 pages to get to
> some kind of comparison of the commercial vs open source and I still
> don't have a good feeling why I should be picking the commercial
> version. I mean; it's not that expensive. There is way too much yadda
> yadda between the information. Usually websurfers don't stick that long
> on a website (I didn't the first time :-)
> So there are some additional data drivers and flash components. But
> using JDBC I can access any database, why would I want additional
> datadrivers? And the prebuild flash objects? What do they do? Demo's?
> And what is that "software delivered as plugins"? There is load of text,
> but not enough relevant information on that website. IMHO.
>
> Not sure if it is any use to you, but it certain contributes to my
> confusion. I do get the impression that the open source version is
> fairly complete and only some -no idea why I need them- drivers and the
> flash components are not included.
Re: open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366475 is a reply to message #366474] Sun, 04 January 2009 12:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Tom Eugelink is currently offline Tom EugelinkFriend
Messages: 817
Registered: July 2009
Senior Member
> Your still doing an apples to apples comparison, which isn't fair.

Hm, apples to apples seems quite fair to me :-)


> Source" BIRT is not a product, its a framework.

Interesting difference. In the open source BIRT I get a designer, I would consider that a product. And I have a runtime thing where to execute reports in, that may be a framework. On the other hand; msaccess also is considered a product, but actually is nothing more that a framework.


> nor can I really help with the marketing speak on
> the BIRT Exchange.

I understand; the birt-exchange website just is confusing about what is commercial and what not. I think I have a better idea now. But Actuate is still not "selling" their stuff (to me). I mean, a webapp which opens reports is like half a day's work.

Since I need to embed the reports in my fat client, or call via a webserver, I simply need to get my feet wet. One of the biggest issues will be printer support; reports should be coming out of different paper trays.

Thanks for taking the time to respond to me!

Tom
Re: open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366487 is a reply to message #366475] Mon, 05 January 2009 19:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Virgil Dodson is currently offline Virgil DodsonFriend
Messages: 40
Registered: July 2009
Member
Hi Tom, thanks for your comments...I'll make sure your points get to the
appropriate web person for BIRT Exchange. I put a blog post up recently
that describes the value of Actuate products for developers using BIRT.
http://www.birt-exchange.com/blog/2008-12-22/what-actuate-10 -means-for-developers-using-birt/

To summarize some of the blog post:
Open source BIRT was initiated by Actuate Corporation and contains a
nice visual report design enviroment, a set of APIs for integrating BIRT
into applications, and an example web implementation of the APIs called
the ExampleWebViewer. You can get open source BIRT from
http://www.eclipse.org/birt or http://www.birt-exchange. You will need
the designer plug-in (or all-in-one version which contains the Eclipse
IDE) plus you should download the BIRT Runtime to get the API and web
viewer examples.

Actuate BIRT extends open source BIRT and contains a few extra features,
like the data drivers, Flash objects and charts, and integration with
Actuate's report server (if used). Developers that license Actuate BIRT
get a license to use the Actuate BIRT Viewer which contains a few nice
features above the open source viewer like progressive viewing, security
extensions, and temp file mgmt.

For those that need it, another level of functionality is available with
the BIRT Deployment Kit which has a few components, like an AJAX based
Interactive Viewer, Ad-hoc BIRT reporting in the browser, a nice
JavaScript API for integrating the viewer, report browsing, etc.

Finally, the Actuate iServer Express is a report server that brings in
scheduling, users/roles, job management, email notification, web
services API, etc. Take a look at the blog post and let me know if you
need something explained better.

Virgil Dodson
http://www.birt-exchange.com

tbee wrote:
>> Your still doing an apples to apples comparison, which isn't fair.
>
> Hm, apples to apples seems quite fair to me :-)
>
>
>> Source" BIRT is not a product, its a framework.
>
> Interesting difference. In the open source BIRT I get a designer, I
> would consider that a product. And I have a runtime thing where to
> execute reports in, that may be a framework. On the other hand; msaccess
> also is considered a product, but actually is nothing more that a
> framework.
>
>
>> nor can I really help with the marketing speak on the BIRT Exchange.
>
> I understand; the birt-exchange website just is confusing about what is
> commercial and what not. I think I have a better idea now. But Actuate
> is still not "selling" their stuff (to me). I mean, a webapp which opens
> reports is like half a day's work.
>
> Since I need to embed the reports in my fat client, or call via a
> webserver, I simply need to get my feet wet. One of the biggest issues
> will be printer support; reports should be coming out of different paper
> trays.
>
> Thanks for taking the time to respond to me!
>
> Tom
>
Re: open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366493 is a reply to message #366487] Tue, 06 January 2009 07:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Tom Eugelink is currently offline Tom EugelinkFriend
Messages: 817
Registered: July 2009
Senior Member
Hi Virgil,

Thanks for responding.

> Actuate BIRT extends open source BIRT and contains a few extra features,
> like the data drivers, Flash objects and charts, and integration with
> Actuate's report server (if used). Developers that license Actuate BIRT
> get a license to use the Actuate BIRT Viewer which contains a few nice
> features above the open source viewer like progressive viewing, security
> extensions, and temp file mgmt.

I still have no idea what so ever what these data drivers are. I'm really starting to get curious! :-)

Because the Actuate versions are not really expensive, I assume they are in essence more complete packaged and configured versions; not unlike the commercial Linux distributions. Actuate included a flash chart library, did some extending of the viewer and other stuff.

I think I first need to get my feet wet in open source BIRT and maybe then Actuate's extentions will make "sense".

Tom
Re: open source BIRT vs Actuate? [message #366512 is a reply to message #366493] Wed, 07 January 2009 02:21 Go to previous message
Eclipse UserFriend
Originally posted by: m.n.com

From
http://www.birt-exchange.com/products/birt-report-designers/ #packages-overview

# Additional Data Access options

* Information Objects, Actuate's metadata and data integration layer.
* Built-in data drivers for MS SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, Sybase,
Informix, MySQL.




tbee wrote:
> Hi Virgil,
>
> Thanks for responding.
>
>> Actuate BIRT extends open source BIRT and contains a few extra
>> features, like the data drivers, Flash objects and charts, and
>> integration with Actuate's report server (if used). Developers that
>> license Actuate BIRT get a license to use the Actuate BIRT Viewer
>> which contains a few nice features above the open source viewer like
>> progressive viewing, security extensions, and temp file mgmt.
>
> I still have no idea what so ever what these data drivers are. I'm
> really starting to get curious! :-)
>
> Because the Actuate versions are not really expensive, I assume they are
> in essence more complete packaged and configured versions; not unlike
> the commercial Linux distributions. Actuate included a flash chart
> library, did some extending of the viewer and other stuff.
>
> I think I first need to get my feet wet in open source BIRT and maybe
> then Actuate's extentions will make "sense".
>
> Tom
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