RealTime IT News

BIRT To Take Flight in Early 2005

Actuate, which stewards the open source business intelligence reporting tool (BIRT), is planning an early 2005 launch, following the approval of the Eclipse Foundation.

Actuate and Eclipse officials first announced the BIRT proposal to the organization's developer community in August. It is an open source application that will allow Java developers to automate reporting process in easily digestible charts in HTML or PDF files. The system decreases the development costs associated with reporting and analyzing core application functions, officials say.

"It's a milestone that we're going, kind of, from the idea phase to the execution phase," said Vijay Ramakrishnan, Actuate senior director of corporate communications. "We've been very pleased and happy with the level of feedback we've gotten from the larger community regarding the proposal. Within the first two days of putting up the proposal in early August, I received three e-mails from developers who were keen on working on the project."

Although it's not the first Eclipse-based BIRT application on the market -- Visual Mining sells NetCharts Designer for $1,000 a developer, for example -- it will be the first open source project with the bonus of having backing from the industry heavyweights in the Eclipse Foundation for help.

"Actuate is being aggressive in an area where most of its competitors choose not to be: open source," said Keith Gile, Forrester Research senior analyst, in a statement. "BI vendors that have avoided participation in an open source initiative need to rethink this approach and ideally get involved, as open source will be an issue that must be addressed sooner than later."

Actuate next plans to begin work in the next couple of months on the three BIRT sub-projects -- the designer, report engine and chart engine. Ramakrishnan would not give any dates, but did say the company expected the first version by early 2005.

Officials say the Eclipse Foundation has 70 organizations under its belt, more than 30 different open source projects and 600 plug-ins totaling more than two million lines of code in all.

Mike Milinkovich, the Eclipse Foundation's executive director, said that since February, the organization has garnered 17 new members and nine new projects (three of them top-level projects), a level they were expecting once the organization gained its independence.

"If you look at the numbers, in terms of new members and new projects, on those two dimensions Eclipse has really grown quite dramatically since the late May timeframe," he said. "The commercial adoption of Eclipse has been pretty outstanding since its inception, and there's been a lot of momentum behind that lately as well."

In July, chipmaker Intel assumed management of the Hyades Project, a two-year project within Eclipse shepherded by IBM and Scapa Technologies. The open source test and performance tools platform was beefed up and promoted to its designation as a top-level project. The BIRT project and the Web tools platform project make up the two other new top-level projects.

The quick and easy approval of the latest top-level project illustrates the momentum Eclipse officials say the organization has enjoyed since gaining independence from founding parent IBM in February.