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OpenText Analytics Review: "Actuate BIRT - open source that's worth a look"
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Bri Gipson profile photo
October 13, 2014

OpenText Analytics Review: "Actuate BIRT - open source that's worth a look"

Score 8 out of 101
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version
BIRT 3 & 4

Overall Satisfaction with Actuate

Actuate's open source BIRT is used as an integrated reporting solution to provide data exporting and visualization of client project portfolios that empowers them with information to aid in better decisions.
  • The report outputs can vary across different types such as HTML, PDF, and Excel
  • Their open source offering is very sufficient
  • There are great boards and blogs for developers and engineers to expand and use their features.
  • The people from the company that I've worked with are professional and courteous.
  • The report designer can be unstable at times.
  • The reporting engine tends to have memory leaks with certain types of massive-data reporting.
  • The report graphics don't have the sexiest appeal (e.g. Glossy feel, animated output)
  • Some extensibility is extremely difficult to get to without purchasing a license (e.g. Setting a simple flag so that HTML outputs in compressed mode requires either creating your own emitter or going the paid route)
  • There is a myriad of reporting solutions and options tend to change every other year.
Actuate has been in the industry a while and the open source community make going with Actuate's BIRT a stable decision. Changing report engines can be expensive, so going with a company with a good reputation helps long-term.
Difficulty with some extensibility that should be fairly easy, lack of shading in the reports (even simple phong shading), lack of out-of-the box capabilities that seem like no brainers and instability with the design tools all drop the product a few marks, but the support community and the overall product experience is well above average. It's at least worth a try and its extensibility makes it a good contender.
The design tool is useful for basic reporting, but many reports require some experience in SQL and JavaScript. Java programming, though not a required skill for basic reports, is needed for better reporting and to access the more advanced features (such as debugging).
It can connect to almost anything - solely based on what JDBC connectors are out there.
Engineers can share and collaborate building tasks - e.g. One develope builds the report design while another builds the query. But I can't pass in a requirements template from a spreadsheet to construct the report. Collaboration is still strongly based on comminication between stakeholders and engineers rather than through automation.
The BIRT designer is the weakest link on this chain. It's great because you get one. It's also aggravating because it is unstable and crashes while the report is being designed. There is little feedback while network transactions take place, leaving many newbies confused as to why the interface is frozen, etc.
It depends on extensibility, set-up, access & style. Actuate performs fairly well, but has performance issues because it sits on top of eclipse, which sits on top of Java. Extensibility usually comes at that price. Set-up is fairly straightforward and it can be secured.