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What is BIRT?

The Project

BIRT means Business Intelligence Reporting Tool, and that sums it up quite nicely. BIRT can pull and combine data from many different data sources (Databases, files, Java, Javascript, web services, etc..) and use this data for reporting (textual) and charting (visual).

BIRT is an open-source software project that provides the BIRT technology platform to create data visualizations. Users can embed reports into desktop and web applications, especially those based on Java and Jakarta EE. BIRT is a top-level software project within the Eclipse Foundation.

The BIRT project addresses a wide range of reporting needs. Reporting capabilities in an application are often implemented in an ad hoc fashion by the application developer, using technology that is not ideal for developing a one-off solution for that application. This is expensive and time-consuming and provides limited reporting capabilities for the end-users of the application. BIRT addresses this problem by delivering Eclipse-based open source and extensible tools and frameworks that allow developers to incorporate reporting functionality within their applications easily.

BIRT is supported by an active community of committers, contributors, and users here at The Open Standard Business Platform Project (OSBP) and its Open Standard Business Application Working Group (OSbea) also support BIRT.

The project is driven by a team of committers, contributors, and companies. BIRT was originally initiated and sponsored by Actuate with contributions from IBM and Innovent Solutions. BIRT is licensed under the Eclipse Public License (EPL).




The Groundswell

Today, the BIRT technology platform is one of the most widely adopted data visualization and reporting technologies, with over 12 million downloads and around 2.5M report developers across 157 countries. BIRT also has a growing developer community representing all types of organizations. Major technology companies such as IBM, Cisco, S1 and ABS Nautical Systems as well as Eclipse projects like OSBP have incorporated BIRT into their product lines.

The Technology Platform

BIRT has two main components: a visual report designer for creating BIRT Designs and a runtime component for running them. The BIRT project also includes a charting engine that is both fully integrated into the BIRT designer and can be used standalone to incorporate charts into an application.

BIRT designs are persisted as XML and can access many different data sources, including JDO datastores, JFire Scripting Objects, POJOs, SQL databases, Web Services, and XML.

Learn more about BIRT Architecture

The Philosophy

BIRT is about open standards (see also the Eclipse project Open Standard Business Platform). It integrates with any data source in any environment. BIRT represents a commitment to the highest standards in software design and quality.

Design Overview

In this section, you'll get an overview of what a BIRT design is, including:

  • Report Introduction

  • The Anatomy of a Report

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Architecture Overview

In this section, you'll get an overview of the BIRT architecture. Topics included:

  • BIRT Components

  • Architecture Diagram

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Designer Overview

This section will take you through a quick tour of the BIRT Designer.

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Customization Overview

In this section, you'll get an overview of some different ways to customize your report design, including:

  • Data Customization

  • Conditional Formatting

  • Scripting

  • Java Event Coding

  • Project Management

  • Styles

  • Libraries

  • Internationalization

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Extensibility Overview

Since BIRT cannot contain every feature needed for all applications, it is very extendible. This section gives an overview of what parts of BIRT can be extended. The topics included are:

  • Extensibility

  • Data Access

  • Report Items

  • Chart Types

  • Output Formats

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