BIRT Kills Puppies: A Fair and Honest Review

So I’ve got this job at a pretty rad place called Windward.  We make, among other things, software that helps companies analyze and organize their data more effectively; this is the field of “Business Intelligence” (BI).  This week, I’m looking at some of the competition: BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) is an open-source project founded and maintained by a company called Actuate, which uses it as the foundation for most of its commercial products.  BIRT is an Eclipse plug-in that allows you to design report templates and publish them in web-ready HTML, among other formats.  It comes with a visual editor with drag-and-drop functionality and support for pretty much everything you would ever want in a report: charts, tables, text and images, etc.–and, since it’s open source, it costs absolutely nothing up-front.  If you want to do more than just make reports, you can opt for one of Actuate’s commercial products, which add functionality such as the ability to host interactive reports on a web server, embed reports into web applications, and use interactive Flash charts, gadgets, and widgets in your reports.  Sounds great, right?  So what’s the problem?  Well… Continue reading