REVIEW: 3 free open source reporting tools

Eclipse BIRT, Jasper Reports and Pentaho offer many features similar to costly commercial products, only for free

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Producing professional reports on-demand from a back-end database, especially one connected to a Web application, remains one of the sticky wickets in Web development. Commercial products are few and their eye-popping cost can be a barrier to entry for independent developers or smaller IT shops.

For example, at the time of this writing, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services costs more than $3,000 for a single-core server license, while a five-concurrent-access license package for SAP Crystal Reports Server weighs in at more than $8,000. Fortunately, some free and very capable open-source products have stepped up to fill the void.

We tested the community/open-source versions of three popular reporting tools: Eclipse BIRT 4.6.0, JasperReports 6.3, and Pentaho 7.1. All three report designers include a full complement of features, similar to those found in commercial products, that you can use to create and publish powerful reports. JasperReports and Pentaho have an edge for those needing an online repository as they offer a server component, which allows you to produce more comprehensive online reporting (applying filters, changing sorts etc.). Eclipse BIRT is also a very good report designer, but does not provide a separate server for publishing purposes.


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