Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Crystal Reports for Eclipse: A look under the hood

It has been almost one month now since we announced our Crystal Reports for Eclipse product and I have seen a few questions popping up on this blog and other message boards about what exactly our Eclipse-based designer will look like...under the hood so to speak. Well, hopefully I can answer some of these questions today.

To Wrap...or Not To Wrap
First off, let me start by saying that this is a complete rewrite of our Crystal Reports designer. It is not a wrapper around our existing Visual Studio integrated designer. Using our Java Reporting Component (JRC) as the engine, we will have a 100% Java based solution for designing Crystal Report documents. This will allow users to design reports on pretty much any platform which supports running Eclipse (e.g. Linux).

JRC: New and Improved!
Using the JRC as the engine for our new Designer demonstrates the capabilities and power of our Java reporting solution. Developers who are familiar with our integration within Visual Studio may be aware of the robust APIs we provide which allow for complete control of the report document at runtime. The new Crystal Reports for Eclipse designer is essentially a complex JRC application, built using the same components which will be available for our customers. We are quickly closing the parity gap between our .NET and Java solutions, giving our customers the freedom to choose the best platform for their application.

.NET in Eclipse!
No, we are not planning on introducing a .NET development environment within Eclipse. However, all of the reports which you design with the Crystal Reports for Eclipse product will work in your .NET applications with our .NET engine and viewers. Of course we also support running your .NET reports using our Java engine. Business Objects is proud to be the only Business Intelligence organization offering this type of cross-platform support.

Want More?
Running reports embedded directly in your Java application is great, but what happens when you need more? More security, more scheduling options, more scalability, more fault-tolerance...whatever the reason, it's inevitable that some of you will eventually reach the limit on what your embedded reporting solution can offer. The great news for users who choose Crystal Reports for Eclipse as their embedded reporting solution, is that the migrating to our platform is a painless procedure. All of the reports designed with the Eclipse designer will be supported on our BusinessObjects Enterprise and Crystal Reports Server product lines. On top of this, the APIs are based on the same object model so there should be minimal code change required. This type of flexibility provides comfort for developers who commit to using Crystal Reports as their reporting solution.

I Have My Reports...Now What?
Designing the reports is only one small portion of the tasks related to integrating a reporting solution into an application. There is also the task of ensuring that the runtime environment is setup correctly to generate the reports. On top of this, there is often a learning curve to understand the required API calls to display the reports. No matter how little time this takes, it is often time that a Developer does not have to spare...or more likely...not want to spare. We know that most Developers do not want to become Business Intelligence experts, and that integrating Crystal Reports into their application is usually to serve an immediate need. It's for this reason that Crystal Reports for Eclipse will include wizards and tooling to assist with the development of applications which include Crystal Reports. Once again, this type of tooling is a first for reporting solutions within the Eclipse IDE.

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At 6:59 AM, December 08, 2005, Anonymous Jessica King said...

Is there a tentative release date? 2005 Q4 is quickly coming to a close ;)

At 1:47 PM, December 08, 2005, Blogger Adam Ellis said...

Thanks for the update Sean! I've been checking my e-mail, the Business Objects site, and this blog every day since this was announced hoping to get some tasty tidbits about what is to come. I've got another question for you - will ODBC be a supported database connection method in Eclipse or will we need to move to JDBC?

At 11:37 AM, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Jessica King said...

I'm with Adam - I'm checking this site regularly for updates. About being able to open reports not necessarily designed within Eclipse...will CR4E open reports created within the CR designer? What will happen if I open a report created in the designer that, for example, has a gauge chart in it? When I open such a report with the JRC now, I get an error that the chart type isn't implemented. How will CR4E handle functionality not yet implemented?

At 9:22 AM, December 14, 2005, Blogger Sean said...

Crystal Reports for Eclipse will support editing existing ODBC reports and saving back using the same ODBC connection. However the designer will not support verifying ODBC database connections or refreshing ODBC data in its initial release. Being that the engine is 100% Java it limits the design time data sources to those which provide a Java interface. However, that being said, we are exploring options to assist developers with deploying the reports to environments where ODBC/OLE DB may be the preferred db connection method (e.g. deployed on BusinessObjects Enterprise).

At 4:30 PM, February 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: Is any of this open source? Yes, its great that there is a plugin for Eclipse and its written from the ground up. But nothing about whether this is open source. Is this just marketing?

At 6:12 AM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting. What would be the benefit of using something like this as opposed to BIRT?


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