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Actuate joins Eclipse with plans to add BI to Java IDE

Actuate is joining the Eclipse Foundation as a strategic developer to spearhead the creation of business intelligence and reporting tools for the open-source Java IDE.

Actuate and Eclipse announced the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project at a news conference at the Actuate International User Conference held this week in Los Angeles.

Java programmers need BIRT because most are hand-coding BI and reporting into their business applications, says Mark Coggins, senior VP of engineering at Actuate. Putting free, downloadable XML-based BI and reporting tools on the Eclipse Web site would save Java developers time and money, he adds.

At the Webcast press conference announcing BIRT, officials from Eclipse and Actuate acknowledged this open-source project has potential benefits for them as well.

Mike Milinkovich, executive director of Eclipse, calls better reporting tools for developers a 'logical extension' of Eclipse's mission to provide open-source tools and technologies for developers. Although Eclipse claims a majority of Java programmers are using its IDE, Milinkovich sees BIRT boosting his organization's membership roles.

'It will add momentum and attract more application developers to Eclipse because they can embed BI in their applications,' he says. Milinkovich, touting the popularity of Eclipse, says there were more than 3 million requests in May 2004 to download the latest version.

Coggins and other Actuate representatives say their company plans to integrate BIRT into products and provide consulting services specializing in its implementation. Through the tie-in with Eclipse, Actuate marketing executives hope to reach the millions of Java coders working with Eclipse.

Actuate and Eclipse will build BIRT within the Eclipse open-source community with input from any developer that wants to offer it, Coggins says. It's not a case of Actuate donating existing code for open-source use as some vendors do, he adds.

BIRT will be 'written from the ground up,' Coggins says, and will benefit from having 'all those developers' eyeballs on the project.'

The BIRT proposal will be available on the Eclipse Web site for public review and comment over the next 30 days at http://www.eclipse.org . If the proposal is approved by the Eclipse board, work will begin on developing the tools in late September. Actuate officials say it is too early for them to talk about a timeframe for completing the project.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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