BIRT is a top level project through Eclipse and one of the most popular tools for designing and developing reports for business. Web Builder Zone Leader, Schalk Neethling, recently had an interview with BIRT evangelist Virgil Dodson with regards to the latest 2.3 release as well as the new Ganymede IDE for Java and Report Developers package.
Schalk Neethling: Hi Virgil, I was very happy to see that the new version of BIRT has indeed been released on time with the rest of the Ganymede releases. I was especially pleased to see the new Eclipse Ganymede package Eclipse IDE for Java and Report Developers, what can report developers who have not grabbed the package yet, look forward to?
Virgil Dodson: BIRT 2.3 was a huge release in terms of bug fixes and enhancements. Some of the coolest new features are concentrated around script debugging, crosstab improvements, a prototype of the Data Tools Project’s SQL Query Builder, multi-view items, a horizontal page break property, and lots more. All of these features will make it easier for the report developer to build the report they need.
Neethling: A lot of improvements have been made with regards to the crosstab feature in BIRT. Please tell us more about what these improvements are and how they will improve the way reports are designed.
Dodson: The Crosstab control had quite a few changes with BIRT 2.3. One of my favorite features is the ability to have a chart within a crosstab measure or total area. You simply right-click on a measure and select "Show as Chart". A default chart is generated that has the correct cube data selected. To allow for further customization, the crosstab control now exposes several scriptable events. You can write scripts on these events to modify the individual cells within a crosstab. For example, coloring certain cells based on the data generated. Some additional improvements include filters for measure values, derived measures that can be generated based on other data around it, an option for allowing empty columns and rows to be displayed, and the ability to have something displayed in the crosstab header.