JasperSoft Flies the Coop
Organizers say JasperForge.org is the start of something big—but users grouse that the transition from the Sourceforge nest hasn’t been without a hiccup or two.
Open source business intelligence (BI) has been a surprisingly successful proposition, fostering an ecosystem of open source BI projects—Mondrian, Pentaho, the Eclipse Business Intelligence Reporting Tool (BIRT), and JasperReports, among others—and encouraging the emergence of hybrid open source and commercial endeavors, such as Actuate Corp.’s BIRT and JasperSoft Corp.’s productization of the popular JasperReports library.
Open source BI is also growing up—fast. Pentaho—an ambitious project the aim of which is to develop a full-fledged open-source BI stack—has been a magnet for venture capital seed money, for one thing.
And then there’s JasperReports, which started out (nearly five years ago) as a modest Java-based reporting library, but—in the last few years, especially—has taken on the form of a compelling BI platform, complete with a GUI-based rendering and authoring environment (iReport) and a bona-fide reporting, analytics, and metadata management component (JasperIntelligence).
Last month, JasperReports and its portfolio of complementary technologies flew the coop, so to speak, moving from their incubatory nest (Sourceforge.net) to new digs over at Jasperforge.org. Jasperforge principals—which include not just JasperSoft itself, but also several independent moderators, in addition to a teeming community of contributors and developers—position the new JasperForge.org site as a one-stop shop for JasperSoft BI, providing project space, project management, and collaboration tools for JasperSoft-related open-source projects, along with private space for JasperSoft partners.
What’s in it for developers? For one thing, JasperForge.org principals say, the new site features user-customizable project portals, along with support for amenities like development dashboards and searchable project libraries. It offers other developer-friendly goodies, too, including project version control, task management, issue tracking, real-time status monitoring, and change notification capabilities. And, like its SourceForge.net paterfamilias, JasperForge.org includes discussion forums and wikis, as well as developer blogs.
One thing it doesn’t include, however, is much of the content of the old Sourceforge.net forums. This is a problem, some JasperReports users contend, because these discussion threads deal with both common and arcane JasperReports issues. If “RTFM” is the online universe’s signature rejoinder, its follow-up is almost invariably “Search the archives.”
But that just isn’t possible on the new JasperForge site, some users say. “I know I should [be] using these new forums. But I spend a fair amount of time researching Jasper questions in the old [SourceForge] forums—before posting a question,” writes one JasperReports user. “So far about 100 percent of my questions were answered with this kind of research.”
It wasn’t a deliberate oversight, JasperForge.org principals say. The single biggest rub of the transition is that there isn’t a programmatic way to migrate content from the existing JasperReports forums to the new site. “Unfortunately not even the vendor was able to figure out a way to extract the data from the old forums. We recognize the value of the content, as such the old forums are still there and available,” writes one JasperReports moderator on the new site.
The old forums are still available at SourceForge.net, principals say, and should stay available for some time to come. In the meantime, organizers position the new JasperForge site as the hub of an emerging JasperReports-based BI ecosystem. And with its raft of developer-friendly features and JasperReports-centric focus, JasperForge is better suited than the erstwhile SourceForge.net sub-site. “Currently, there are more than 30 open-source projects built around our reporting product, JasperReports, and dozens of companies with commercial applications or services built on the JasperSoft architecture,” said Barry Klawans, JasperSoft CTO, in a statement. “With the rapid growth in development projects and exchange of technical ideas between projects, we decided to build JasperForge.org to bring everything together in one location.”
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.