For the past eight(8) years Schalk Neethling has been working as a freelance developer under the pseudo of Volume4 and is now the president of Overt Strategy Consulting. During this period he has completed over 300 projects ranging from full web application development to complete branding. As president and lead developer of Overt Strategy Consulting, Schalk Neethling and his team has released a 100% Java standards based content management system called AlliedBridge and business document exchange and review system, called Doc-Central. Schalk Neethling is also actively involved on a daily basis in the open source, web standards and accessibility areas and is a current active member of the Web Standards Group. Schalk is also the co-founder and president of the non-profit The South Web Standards and Accessibility Group, which aims to actively educate and raise awareness of web standards and accessibility to both the developer society as well as business large and small. Schalk also has a long relationship with DZone and is currently zone leader for both the web builder,, as well as the .NET zone,, and you can find a lot of his writing there as well as on his blog located at Schalk is constantly expanding on his knowledge of various aspects of technology and loves to stay in touch with the latest happenings. For Schalk web development and the internet is not just a job, it is a love, a passion and a life style. Schalk has posted 173 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

BIRT 2.3 What's New And the Ganymede IDE for Java Report Developers

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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: One of the BIG improvements with the BIRT 2.3 release is the JavaScript debugger, can you tell us a little more about this and how this is going to improve the development life cycle for report developers?

Dodson: The whole report debugging experience has been improved in BIRT 2.3 for both Java event handlers and JavaScript event handlers.  Debugging now happens within the same Eclipse instance instead of launching another instance.  The debugger also lets you emulate the /frameset /run and /preview mappings used in the BIRT viewer and allows you to select which engine task you would like to use deciding between the RunTask, RenderTask, RunAndRenderTask, and a 2 process options of RunTask + RenderTask.  For JavaScript, you can now add breakpoints in your code allowing you to step through and debug your report scripts.

Neethling: I must say one of the new features I am really excited about is the JavaScript validation enhancement to the JavaScript editor. It is definitely going to make writing scripts in the BIRT designer a lot easier. Can you expand a little on exactly how the validator works and also highlight some of the other enhancement to the JavaScript editor?

Dodson: There have been quite a few enhancements to the JavaScript editor starting with instant syntax validation, line numbers, code folding allowing you to collapse areas of script you are not currently working on, and toggling on/off breakpoints to use while debugging.  When an error does happen, the message has been improved and also now includes the line number where the problem occurred.  You will also see a couple of new icons in the Expression builder, a date picker for easily selecting correctly formatted dates, and a syntax validator.  You can very quickly check for problems before leaving the Expression Builder.

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.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Schalk Neethling.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


amar nath replied on Mon, 2009/04/27 - 9:27am

hi sir, im trying to deploy birt runtime 2.3.2 on jdk1.6 .. my birt code is not working if i do so..which was working fine with birt runtime 2.2.2... can u please suggest me ...should i need to include additional supporting jar files??? Amarnath V

Deva Rajan replied on Fri, 2010/10/08 - 12:39am

very nice. help with how to develope birt and how to comile,run the birt using java code

Carla Brian replied on Sat, 2012/07/07 - 12:48am

I want to learn more on this one. It is kinda interesting. I will download more tutorials on this. - Mercy Ministries

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