Oracle Releases Upgrade of Report-Writing Tool

Oracle Corp. wants more people to think Oracle when they think enterprise reporting.

Vince Casarez, Oracle’s vice president of tools marketing, says Oracle has been fighting several factors in trying to get customers to think of Oracle for enterprise reporting the way they think of Seagate Software, Actuate Software Corp. or Sqribe Technologies, which is being acquired by Brio Technology Inc.

"I think a lot of times what ends up happening is people look at Oracle tools in general and say, ‘They’re really more for the Oracle server.’ We’ve spent a large part of our time focusing on making sure it works with other databases as well," Casarez says.

To that end, the database and applications vendor released an upgrade last month for its enterprise reporting tool, Oracle Reports 6.0.

Despite the high version number, it’s only the second release of Oracle Reports as a standalone product. The versioning matches the Oracle Developer suite.

"The product itself has been around for seven or eight years at least, primarily as part of our Developer product line," Casarez says. The tool came out about a year ago as a discrete product called Oracle Reports 3.0.

Major enhancements in the upgrade address bringing functionality to the Web. Version 6.0 allows users to generate reports in HTML, HTMLCSS or PDF, to select the output format at runtime and to build the documents through wizards. The new version also supports HTML/HTMLCSS page streaming and report bursting. Oracle has included support for bookmarks, hyperlinks, images as URLs and Web previews. "This release is really targeted at adding all those features to the Web," Casarez says.

Server-side improvements include new features in the multitier architecture, load management and clustering for large numbers of users.

Teresa Wingfield, an analyst at Giga Information Group (, finds Oracle Reports to be competitive with other enterprise reporting tools. "Oracle Reports [fares] well as a report-writing product competing against products from Actuate Software, Brio Technology and Seagate Software," Wingfield wrote in a recent report.

Increasingly important to customers is how well a report-writing tools integrates with a business intelligence suite that also provides OLAP and ad hoc querying and reporting.

"Oracle also rates highly as a provider of integrated business intelligence tools that include report-writing, ad-hoc query and OLAP technologies," Wingfield explained. But that said, Wingfield’s report notes that this first integration of Oracle Reports with Oracle Discoverer and with Oracle Express is modest, allowing only the sharing of result sets.

Some other shortcomings of Oracle Reports that Wingfield identified include lack of a search facility for report retrieval, lack of application-level security and reliance on ODBC drivers for accessing non-Oracle data sources.