Wake Up, Smell the Java Reporting Reality

BIRT and Crystal aren’t the only game in town. There’s also JReport, which—in its new version 7.2 release—incorporates a bevy of improvements.

When Actuate Corp. and the Eclipse Foundation first announced a new BI Reporting Tool (BIRT) project last year, they said they hoped to fill a glaring gap in the J2EE application space—namely, the absence of a native Java reporting solution for the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE).

While Eclipse itself may have lacked a native Java reporting capability, there was no shortage of third-party Java reporting tools for use with Eclipse and other IDEs, as well as on a standalone basis.

And even though the Java reporting space is suddenly getting a lot of attention—in addition to BIRT, there’s now a Java-based version of Business Objects SA’s Crystal Reports juggernaut for Eclipse—most third-party players continue to stay the course. One such vendor is Jinfonet Software, which publishes a popular solution called JReport. Last week, that company touted an all-new JReport 7.2 release, which includes a number of enhancements designed to help expand the capabilities and applicability of that solution.

JReport is designed primarily for use as a reporting tool with either custom-built or shrink-wrapped applications. JInfonet says the revamped release incorporates enhancements that should help improve the usability, scalability and interoperability of that tool—starting first and foremost with the ability to generate reports in a variety of different formats, including dynamic HTML (DHTML), HTML, Microsoft Excel, Adobe PDF, text, rich text format (RTF) and comma separated value (CSV) files. JReport 7.2 also provides single-click export support for Excel and PDF files.

Other new JReport 7.2 usability improvements include an interactive DHTML output feature, which facilitates the modification of report views and creation of ad hoc reports—thanks to a thin-client interface (based on Asynchronous Java and XML, or AJAX, concepts and methods) that isn’t dependent on Java applets or downloadable plug-ins. Other tweaks include expanded multi-lingual capabilities, better support for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, and report automation capabilities. In the last case, JInfonet officials say, a report that’s saved to one server in a clustered application server environment is automatically replicated to the other nodes in the cluster.

On the scalability front, JReport 7.2 incorporates support for Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI)-based connection pooling, which lets it support more concurrent report requests and provide access to larger data sets. This helps reduce overhead associated with multiple, concurrent requests to the database.

Like competitive offerings (BIRT, Crystal, and others) JReport 7.2 can be embedded directly into applications, either in the form of Web Application Archive (WAR) files or Enterprise Application Archive (EAR). The revamped release includes new scripting technology that can help reduce the role of developers in the creation of WAR or EAR files.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.