Awarded Design and Development

DGI Systems is committed to the use of proven open source technologies to provide dynamic, cost effective business intelligence (BI) solutions. We believe that the use of open source software recipients should contribute wherever possible. The simplest way for us to do that is financially, where we have made financial contributions to the eclipse foundation and are currently granted 'friends of eclipse' status.

The second, and more challenging method of contribution, is technical input. As a member of various IT forums which help support the BI community DGI Systems has contributed an award winning design to BIRT exchange, the home of everything BIRT related. BIRT exchange is sponsored by Actuate who are the engineers behind the BIRT technology, teaming up with the Eclipse Foundation and IBM to produce this highly sophisticated BI platform. A full list of the BIRT Project Management Committee (PMC) and Project Leads can be seen here.

The Award - BIRT Exchange DevShare Contributor of the Month

The DevShare Contributor of the Month contest was created as one way to reward BIRT Exchange members who actively contribute to the community. Actuate created an area on BIRT Exchange called the DevShare where developers can share these lessons learned. At the end of each month, the person with the most popular DevShare item submitted that month will win a prize. The most popular solutions are generally those which present solutions to design issues where a required output is not supplied 'out of the box' by the software and an innovative approach is required.

The Problem

BIRT is a reporting platform enabling reports to be rendered and viewed in web browsers. This allows the software to integrate with browser languages such as css, javascript and java. BIRT uses design elements common to html such as tables to organise and place data and inherits their usual properties. As tables are placed on a report the data flows down, filling the table in a nicely formatted and controlled manner. As a page is ended the table will continue to the next page, maintaining the formatting.

The problem arose for us when we were required to render a report in numerous columns across a page, having the data from one column (table) flow into another. Once the page ended the final column data would flow into the first column of the next page. While the BIRT designer does not allow this out of the bow, it does provide all of the tools required to create an innovative workaround.

The Solution - Multi Column Reports

DGI Systems were able to use tables in conjunction with data row and page break counts to create an algorithm enabling the BIRT engine to intelligently filter rows on a column and page bases for an infinite number of columns on an infionitie number of pages. The intial design placed on DevShare has since been adapted to include column dseb headings, adding scalability to to strength of the solution.

* 122 Customer names exist in the BIRT sample database being used below, they have been deliberately duplicated to create a large enough test sample.
** The images below show the output for the actual technical design where no attention to aesthetics has been made. Please see our demonstrations page for styled layouts.

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