BIRT: A Field Guide to Reporting [NOOK Book]


The world-wide developer community has downloaded over three million copies of BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) from the Eclipse web site. Built on the open-source Eclipse platform, BIRT is a powerful reporting system that provides an end-to-end solution, from creating and deploying reports to integrating report capabilities in enterprise applications.

The first in a two-book series about this exciting technology, BIRT, Second ...
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BIRT: A Field Guide to Reporting

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The world-wide developer community has downloaded over three million copies of BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) from the Eclipse web site. Built on the open-source Eclipse platform, BIRT is a powerful reporting system that provides an end-to-end solution, from creating and deploying reports to integrating report capabilities in enterprise applications.

The first in a two-book series about this exciting technology, BIRT, Second Edition: A Field Guide to Reporting is the authoritative guide to using BIRT Report Designer, the graphical tool that enables users of all levels to build reports, simple to sophisticated, without any programming.

BIRT, Second Edition: A Field Guide to Reporting is an essential resource for users who want to create presentation quality reports from day one. The extensive examples, step-by-step instructions, and abundant illustrations help new users develop their report design skills quickly. Power users can find the information they need to make the most of the product’s rich set of features to build complex and compelling reports. By the time you finish this book, you learn the following and more

  • Design effective business and corporate reports that convey information through images, charts, tables, and cross tabs
  • Build reports using data from a variety of sources, including databases, XML documents, spreadsheets, and web services
  • Enliven reports with interactive features, such as hyperlinks, Tooltips, and highlighting
  • Create consistently styled reports and collaborate with other report designers through the use of templates and libraries of reusable elements
  • Localize reports for an international audience

This second edition, revised and expanded, adds updated examples and covers all the new and improved product features, including

  • Cross tabs and OLAP cubes
  • New chart types, including Gantt, bubble, tube, and cone charts
  • Web services as a new data source
  • New report output formats, including doc, ppt, xls, and PostScript
  • The capability for reports to reference CSS
  • Localization of report parameter and data values

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780132702171
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 7/31/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 794
  • File size: 37 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

The authors are members of the extended BIRT development team and have backgrounds in both computer science and technical writing. Collectively, they have many years of experience in technical consulting, training, writing, and publishing about reporting, business intelligence tools, and database technologies.
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About this book

BIRT is a powerful reporting platform that provides end-to-end reporting solutions, from creating and deploying reports to integrating report capabilities into other enterprise applications. Two companion books, BIRT: A Field Guide to Reporting and Integrating and Extending BIRT, cover the breadth and depth of BIRT's functionality.

Using BIRT Report Designer's rich set of tools, report developers can create many reports, simple and sophisticated, without programming. This book teaches report developers how to create reports using the graphical tools of BIRT Report Designer. Report developers who want to go beyond the graphical tools to customize the report-generation process or incorporate complex business logic in their reports should read the second book, Integrating and Extending BIRT.

This second edition, newly revised for BIRT 2.2.1, adds updated examples and covers all the new and improved product features, including cross tabs and OLAP cubes, new chart types, web services as a new data source, new report output formats, the capability for reports to reference Cascading Style Sheets, and the localization of report parameter and data values.Who should read this book

This book is intended for people who have a basic need for reporting. You need not be an expert at creating reports nor do you need years of programming experience. Familiarity with the following subjects, however, is useful:

  • HTML, for formatting report content
  • SQL, for writing basic queries to extract data from a database for a report
  • JavaScript, for writing basic expressions to manipulate data in the report

This bookprovides many examples of formatting with HTML, and writing SQL queries and JavaScript expressions, but it is not designed to teach you HTML, SQL, or JavaScript.Contents of this book

This book is divided into several parts. The following sections describe the contents of each of the parts.Part I, Installing BIRT

Part I introduces the currently available BIRT reporting packages, the prerequisites for installation, and the steps to install and update the packages. Part I includes the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1, Prerequisites for BIRT. BIRT provides a number of separate packages for BIRT Report Designer as downloadable archive (.zip) files on the Eclipse web site. Two of the packages are stand-alone modules and another requires an existing Eclipse environment. This chapter describes the prerequisites for each of the available report designer packages.
  • Chapter 2, Installing a BIRT Report Designer. BIRT provides two report designers as separate packages, which are downloadable archive (.zip) files on the Eclipse web site. This chapter describes the steps required to install and update each of the available report designers. The chapter also shows how to troubleshoot installation problems and install a language pack that provides localization support.
Part II, Getting Started

Part II provides an overview of the report creation process and introduces the report design environment. Part II includes the following chapters:

  • Chapter 3, Learning the Basics. This chapter presents fundamental concepts of reporting and provides a tutorial. Report developers learn that the report design process begins with a paper and pencil sketch of the proposed report layout and continues through specifying data, laying out the report, formatting, previewing, and testing. In addition, this chapter orients the reader to the software. To accomplish that objective, the chapter provides a tutorial that walks the reader through a creation of a complete report.
  • Chapter 4, Planning Your Report. This chapter explains the planning process in greater detail. Planning is essential to creating effective and efficient reports. A thorough understanding of user requirements and objectives makes the development process smoother and achieves better results. This chapter discusses the types of requirements and other information that a report developer should consider when determining how to set up, format, and distribute a report.
Part III, Accessing and Binding Data

Part III discusses the tasks necessary to connect to an external data source, extract, and prepare data for use in a report. Part III includes the following chapters:

  • Chapter 5, Connecting to a Data Source. Report data comes from many different information systems. An important step in developing a report is ensuring you can connect to a system that provides data. This chapter explains how to access data in JDBC databases, text files,
  • Chapter 6, Retrieving Data. Data sources typically contain more data than is needed in an effective report. This chapter explains how to define data sets to retrieve only the data required for a report. Specifically, this chapter describes retrieving data from JDBC databases, text files,
  • Chapter 7, Binding Data. The data sets you create retrieve the data you want to use in a report. Before you can use or display this data in a report, you must first create the necessary data bindings. A data binding defines an expression that specifies what data to display. This chapter explains how to create and manage data bindings.
Part IV, Designing Reports

Part IV describes the tasks that a report developer completes to design reports using BIRT Report Designer. Part IV includes the following chapters:

  • Chapter 8, Laying Out a Report. A report developer places and arranges report data on a page to determine how report users view the information. This chapter provides an overview of the layout model and describes the report elements that BIRT Report Designer provides for organizing and displaying data. This chapter also describes techniques for creating report sections and placing report elements.
  • Chapter 9, Displaying Text. Much of the information in any report is textual. Textual information can be static text or values derived from data set fields. Text can be as short as a single word, or span paragraphs or pages. This chapter describes the different types of textual elements that BIRT Report Designer provides, and how to use each type of element.
  • Chapter 10, Formatting Report Content. Formatting different types of data within a report improves the clarity and visual appeal of the report. This chapter describes many formatting techniques, including how to change the display of dates, numbers, or currency values, format report elements based on conditions, and adjust the spacing between report elements.
  • Chapter 11, Sorting and Grouping Data. Almost all reports require that a report developer structure the data that comes into the report. Grouping and sorting are two ways of structuring data to ensure that the critical relationships among various pieces of information in a report apparent to the report user. For example, a report developer can use grouping and sorting with sales data to organize the data by region, then by office, and finally by sales representatives. This chapter also includes a tutorial.
  • Chapter 12, Aggregating Data. One of the key features of any report is the ability to display summary, or aggregate, information. For example, a sales report can show the overall sales total, sales subtotals by product type, region, or sales representative, average sales amount, or the highest or lowest sales amounts. This chapter describes the common types of aggregate calculations, and explains how to write aggregate expressions and where to place them in a report.
  • Chapter 13, Writing Expressions. To obtain the necessary data for a report, it is often necessary to use expressions to manipulate the raw data that comes from a data source. This chapter explains how to write JavaScript expressions and provides many examples of manipulating data, including how to convert numbers to strings, combine values from multiple data set fields, search and replace string values, get parts of a string, and calculate the time between two dates.
  • Chapter 14, Filtering Data. Often the data from a data set includes information that is not relevant in a particular report. To exclude this extraneous information from the report, a report developer filters the data to use only the data that pertains to the report. This chapter discusses how to use BIRT Report Designer to filter data and how to enable filtering in the external data set.
  • Chapter 15, Enabling the User to Filter Data. A report developer can use parameters to enable report users to determine which part of the data they see in the report. For example, in a report of nationwide sales figures, filtering can be used to display the data for a user-specified region. This chapter shows how to set up a report that enables a user to specify parameter values to determine what data appears in a report. This chapter also shows how to design report parameters to improve their usability and presentation.
  • Chapter 16, Building a Report That Contains Subreports. This chapter provides examples of building and organizing subreports in a report. This chapter also includes a tutorial that provides an example of a master-detail report. This tutorial illustrates and reviews many of the topics from earlier chapters. A reader can complete the tutorial and practice applying the basic principles to build a more complex report that includes both side-by-side subreports and data set parameters.
  • Chapter 17, Using a Chart. The graphical presentation of summary data is another way of improving the effectiveness of a report. A chart can serve as a report in itself or provide a synopsis of more complex data that appears in a report. Charts often provide an additional view of the data, highlighting or extending the information that appears in a report. This chapter introduces the types of charts that a developer can create and discusses the steps that are required to add a chart to a report. The chapter includes a tutorial that introduces a reader to the chart features.
  • Chapter 18, Displaying Data in Charts. Setting up chart data differs somewhat from selecting typical report data and requires some specific knowledge about how to process data to produce effective charts. To modify which data appears and the arrangement of the data in the chart, you must use series, grouping, and axis settings. This chapter discusses how to link data to a chart, use the chart builder to filter data, plot the data by defining x and y axes, and sort and group data. You also learn how to create a combination chart and a meter chart.
  • Chapter 19, Laying Out and Formatting a Chart. Like chart data, the steps to lay out and format a chart are distinct from the layout and formatting options for a typical report. This chapter explains how to work with the visual elements of a chart to produce the desired appearance. The tasks include positioning elements in the chart area, adding and formatting titles and labels, and changing the style of the series elements available in each chart type.
  • Chapter 20, Presenting Data in a Cross Tab. A cross tab is ideal for presenting summary data in a compact row-and-column matrix that looks similar to a spreadsheet. This chapter explains how to prepare data for a cross tab and how to build a cross tab. The chapter also includes a tutorial that provides an example of building and formatting a cross tab.
Part V, Enhancing Reports

Part V discusses features you can add to a report to improve usability and increase productivity when working with suites of reports. Part V includes the following chapters:

  • Chapter 21, Designing a Multipage Report. Most reports display on multiple pages. Often, report developers want to specify where page breaks occur and they want to display information, such as page numbers and report titles, on every page. This chapter explains how to control pagination in a report and how to design a page layout.
  • Chapter 22, Adding Interactive Viewing Features. To make a report more useful, you can add interactive features, such as hyperlinks or bookmarks. This chapter describes how to create and use bookmarks and tables of contents. It also describes how to add interactive features, such as highlighting and Tooltips, to charts.
  • Chapter 23, Building a Shared Report Development Framework. To support a consistent appearance for a suite of reports, BIRT provides two ways to share the report development among designers. A report library contains standard report elements, such as data sources, a company logo, or a set of styles. A report template combines report elements from libraries or the BIRT palettes to provide a predefined layout and master page. Report designers who use these tools increase their productivity.
  • Chapter 24, Localizing Text. To support international data or produce reports that can be viewed in multiple locales or languages requires planning and an understanding of the issues that are associated with working with resource files. This chapter provides an overview of the localization process and procedures for localizing text in a report.

Glossary contains a glossary of terms that are useful to understanding all parts of the book.

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Table of Contents

Foreword          xix
Preface            xxiii
Acknowledgments               xxix

Part I: Installing BIRT                          1
Chapter 1: Prerequisites for BIRT                       3

Downloading Eclipse BIRT components        3
BIRT Report Designer software requirements        5
About types of BIRT builds          7

Chapter 2: Installing a BIRT Report Designer          9
Installing BIRT Report Designer Full Eclipse Install        9
Installing BIRT RCP Report Designer         10
Troubleshooting installation problems          11
Installing a language pack        13
Updating a BIRT Report Designer installation        14
Updating BIRT RCP Report Designer installation        15

Part II: Getting Started                           17
Chapter 3: Learning the Basics                 19

About BIRT reports          19
Overview of the report design process             19
About the report design environment                21
Viewing sample reports                   30
Tutorial 1: Building a simple listing report               32

Chapter 4: Planning Your Report                             53
Identifying the content of the report                     54
Determining how the report will be viewed                   55
Considering international reporting requirements                   56
Deciding the layout and format of the report                    56
Drawing a mock-up                    58
Considering reuse of report components                  58
Managing report design resources                        59
Deciding how the report will be deployed                  59

Part III: Accessing and Binding Data                                   61
Chapter 5: Connecting to a Data Source                              63

About BIRT data sources                    63
Accessing data using JDBC                 64
Accessing data in a text file                   70
Accessing data in an XML file               73
Accessing a web service                        74
Creating reusable data sources                76
Setting connection properties when a report runs             81
Troubleshooting data source problems                    87

Chapter 6: Retrieving Data                                  89
About data sets             89
Selecting data                 90
Viewing and changing output columns             110
Adding a computed field to a data set              111
Joining data sets              113
Verifying the data returned by a data set           115
Specifying the data to retrieve at run time          116

Chapter 7: Binding Data                                      119
Understanding column bindings                     119
Creating column bindings                       122
Editing and deleting column bindings                 124
Copying data elements                  125
More about column-binding expressions                126

Part IV: Designing Reports                   129
Chapter 8: Laying Out a Report              131

Understanding the layout model               131
Creating the sections of a report                134
Placing report elements              142

Chapter 9: Displaying Text                     153
Types of textual elements               153
Deciding which textual element to use             155
Using a dynamic text element                       158
Using a label element                      159
Using a text element                       160

Chapter 10: Formatting Report Content                         165
Formatting data                  166
Formatting with styles                     172
Formatting data based on conditions             182
Alternating row colors in a table                     187
Specifying alignment of content in a table or grid             190
Adjusting the spacing of content in a report                     191
Specifying fixed layout for HTML output             196
Displaying content across multiple columns               199
Specifying alternate values for display                 201
Hiding elements based on conditions              203

Chapter 11: Sorting and Grouping Data                     207
Sorting data                208
Grouping data            212
Tutorial 2: Grouping report data            231
Task 8: Format the report                 246
Task 9: Preview the report in the BIRT report viewer             248
Task 10: Display credit limit ranges in the table of contents                249

Chapter 12: Aggregating Data                       253
Types of aggregate calculations                        254
Placing aggregate data                  257
Creating an aggregation                 259
Filtering aggregate data                   265
Calculating percentages                267
Creating a summary report              271

Chapter 13: Writing Expressions                        277
Basic concepts                278
Using the expression builder              279
Manipulating numeric data                282
Manipulating string data                    284
Manipulating date-and-time data        292
Using Boolean expressions                 294

Chapter 14: Filtering Data                                     297
Filtering opportunities                 297
Specifying conditions on row retrieval             298
Filtering data after row retrieval                     302

Chapter 15: Enabling the User to Filter Data                  315
About report parameters                315
Planning to use report parameters            317
Ways to enable user filtering                   317
Enabling the user to filter at query run time                317
Enabling the user to filter after running the query                   325
Designing the presentation of report parameters                  328
Testing the report parameters                349
Tutorial 3: Creating and using report parameters                350

Chapter 16: Building a Report That Contains Subreports                            367
Creating the report structure                368
Tutorial 4: Building a report containing side-by-side subreports              372

Chapter 17: Using a Chart                   409
Surveying the types of charts                 409
Tutorial 5: Creating a standalone chart                     416
Exploring the chart builder                   430
Using a chart as part of a report              433

Chapter 18: Displaying Data in Charts                        437
Linking a data set to a chart                 437
Understanding the axes of a chart                438
Grouping and sorting category data                 442
Grouping optional Y value data                   446
Using multiple y-axes                 450
Transposing the chart axes               450
Filtering data             451
Changing default report parameters             452
Creating data bindings                 452
Previewing data and chart             453
Creating a combination chart                455
Defining a meter chart              456

Chapter 19: Laying Out and Formatting a Chart                       459
Formatting specific types of charts                   460
Formatting a pie chart                     470
Laying out and formatting the chart               477
Formatting numbers, dates, and times             482
Formatting the chart legend, plot, and title           485
Formatting axis titles, markers, lines, and labels             496
Formatting a series                507

Chapter 20: Presenting Data in a Cross Tab                      515
Tutorial 6: Creating a cross tab                   516
Understanding cube terms                532
Setting up data for a cross tab              533
Building a cross tab                    543

Part V: Enhancing Reports                      557
Chapter 21: Designing a Multipage Report                    559

Planning the page layout                559
Controlling pagination                     560
Customizing the master page          566
Using multiple master pages              577

Chapter 22: Adding Interactive Viewing Features                         581
Creating hyperlinks                581
Creating a table of contents             591
Adding interactive chart features             594
Adding interactive elements to an HTML report             598
Identifying report elements for data export                  600

Chapter 23: Building a Shared Report Development Framework                    603
Comparing report designs, libraries, and templates                     604
Sharing report elements in a library                        606
Sharing a report layout as a template                       622

Chapter 24: Localizing Text                                   629
Overview of the localization process               630
Assigning a resource file to a report                  631
Assigning a resource key to a label or text element                633
Changing localized text in a label or text element to static text             634
Assigning a resource key to chart text                     635
Changing localized chart text to static text                     636
Assigning a resource key to a value in a data element                  637
Assigning a resource key to a report parameter             639
Editing a resource file               641
Previewing a report in different locales              642

Glossary                                645

Index                                      707

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