Acuate 8 before the birth of BIRT
September 17, 2014
Acuate 8 before the birth of BIRT
Score 6 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Actuate
Actuate was being used with IBM Maximo to generate reports from our CMMS system. The reporting software served as our primary reporting tool and paper work order generation mechanism. Its availability and continuity were crucial to the maintenance and indirect procurement functions.
- The software can be tied to Actuate Basic which is much like MS Visual Basic and can provide an almost custom application feel to some reports.
- Actuate had field movement tools that allowed a user to line rows up and disperse them across a report based off the width. Comparative tools like Crystal did not provide these.
- The Actuate Server also gave easy access to review who had been running a report or reports via its web interface.
- The debug tool that came with the Actuate 8 developer was poorly written in my opinion; compiling a report could be very difficult when a number of functions were being called.
- There wasn't any reporting that could be run to download Actuate utilization statistics. Analytics had to be done by manually reviewing who had been running reports.
- At times when the Actuate Server would become overloaded the only solution was to restart it. There wasn't a way to clear up the list of pending report requests.
- Crystal Reports
Actuate has a HUGE number of features that can tie nicely into almost any ERP but it takes some time to learn and the development community was relatively small compared to the Crystal Reports alternative. Crystal was far easier to learn and had a massive support base. Probably because it is now owned by SAP.
I am no longer working for the company that was using Actuate but I believe they would continue to use it because the stitching costs would be to high. It would require a complete rewrite of the reports and the never version of Actuate (BIRT) even required an almost complete report rewrite.
Actuate was used by the indirect procurement team and the maintenance departments company wide across many facilities. Well over 100 concurrent users at anytime. Actuate was used across vast majority of locations with the ERP solution we had at the time.
This was a feature of Actuate I almost forgot. You could connect to number of different data sources across the organization from Oracle to MySQL and just about everything in between. Also if you have multiple environments of the same system (DEV,QA,PROD) you can change the connection string each time you compile the same report to promote changes. This was easier then changing the connections in alternative software like Crystal Reports.
Having more that one developer working on Actuate reports became quite a problem because once a report was compiled it was published to the server. The published file then could not be decompiled and the design files had to be stored in a particular shared location on the server. Also, I experienced issues leaving code notes in the SQL statements of the reports when I tried to compile them.
Actuate 8 did provide for graphing and making colored charts and highlighting certain fields based on criteria, however the majority of alternative reporting solutions did the same exact thing. The graphs also looked very "Microsoft 1995" if you know what I mean. Presenting them to stakeholders sometimes felt like I was trying to show off an antiquated product.
Be sure to ask about pricing. If I remember correctly the pricing is by processor core, which can get VERY expensive in a large organization with multiple locations. I would say Actuate would be best suited for a medium/large sized organization with 1000-2500 employees with a dedicated team of software developers. If the organization needs someone who can get up and running quickly developing reports and where it is not the primary responsibility then I would recommend an alternative product like Crystal Reports.