Monday, December 14, 2009

BIRT Plugins at Google Code

Blackboard, Inc. develops solutions for the K-12 school, college campus, workplace, and community that increase the impact of education by transforming the experience of education. Blackboard has chosen BIRT as its reporting and business intelligence tool.  

Over the last two years I have been lucky to work with Blackboard on their BIRT integration.  Working with their product and developers we have been able to enhance their core product with reports.  Each Blackboard report tells a story that can help their clients better perform their jobs.  

One of BIRT's features that was extremely helpful was the ability to customize and extend BIRT to meet Blackboards requirements.  Using the BIRT extension points we added functions and controls to BIRT that improved both the developer and users experience when interacting with BIRT.

Blackboard has agreed to release some of the generic portions of this work back to the BIRT community as open source contributions.  Rather than rolling these contributions into the core product (where it would quickly get lost amidst all the other code) we have created two small open source projects that can be used by the community.  These projects can be used either as fully functional products or as best practice sample code.  





BIRT Functions
Uses the Aggregate and Script Function extension point to add new functions to the BIRT product.



BIRT Controls
Uses the ReportItem extension point to create new elements that show up on BIRT reports.



Innovent Update Site
Hosts an Eclipse Update site for both projects. We will be adding new projects to this site as we finish up the code.

If you are a BIRT developer that just wants to get started you can use the following update link:
  http://innovent.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/update

If you would like to find out a bit more about the projects, please visit the project sites.


Thanks go out to thank both BIRT Exchange and the brand spanking new Eclipse Marketplace for providing access to our projects.  It is really great to have a couple of quality channels to publicize our work to the BIRT community.

Also, I want to mention the team that helped to build and get this code open sourced.  Steve Schafer from Innovent Solutions wrote a lot of the code and figured out the inner workings of the ReportItem exension point.  Blackboard had a whole team of people working on reports, in particular thanks to Heather, JoAnna, Michelle, Dan, Joe, Joel, and Manpreet.



    2 comments:

    Chris Aniszczyk (zx) said...

    Congrats on the contribution!

    Does it make sense to have this code live at Eclipse? It could be interesting to have a "BIRT Incubator" project at Eclipse.org to host components like this. If they are mature enough, maybe it makes sense to roll them into the BIRT project itself?

    When things are hosted outside of Eclipse.org, it's generally hard for people to find out about them. The pattern in other Eclipse.org projects is to create a sister incubator project to host incubating codes and to take advantage of the Parallel IP process.

    Jorge said...

    I think so too. It would have a lot more going, and developers would know the real capabilities of this technology. Things like rotated text that are basic, are often hard to find at first look.
    It would be an excellent idea to create some "sister incubator" so people could try out some new things.
    Congratulations to the team behing BIRT and this blog. It's of my work day readings must.
    Best regards,

    Jorge