I attended EclipseCon this last week. The first day of conference started off with Scott Adams the creator of Dilbert giving the keynote speech, and ended with me kicking some serious butt in a Sumo wrestling match. What a great way to start a conference! I even saved some time to talk to developers about Crystal Reports for Eclipse.
On the first night IBM hosted a party with those oversized stuffed sumo wrestling suits. I was hoping to take down one of my co-workers in the ring, but he chickened out. So I had to take on a unsuspecting lawyer from the Bay Area. The guy was a good sport considering I out weighed him by about 60 pounds. Good Fun!
IBM also used their party to demonstrate their move into the virtual world of Second Life. We were given a tour of a new virtual island created for developers to share code and experiences. IBM will also be hosting online seminars and meetings on their new developer island. My question to you is, if Business Objects were to host a developer conference on Second Life, would you attend? Or do you prefer the face to face interaction of your peers. Let me know what you think, these new virtual worlds offer a lot of opportunities for us to try new ways of educating our community members.
Back to the Conference. I spent much of the conference at our booth answering questions, although I did get a chance to attend a number of good sessions. OSGI was a big topic at this year’s conference, but most of the questions asked at our booth were either about RCP or BIRT. The number one question I heard from conference attendees was “Why should I choose Crystal Reports for Eclipse over BIRT?” The second question was “Can I use Crystal Reports for Eclipse in RCP applications?”
Since its creation Eclipse BIRT has been great for the Java community. Eclipse BIRT has benefited from the exposure of being a top level Eclipse project. This exposer has helped build a greater understanding among java developers that it in most cases it is better to use a reporting tool than build your own reporting module. That brings us back the question, why should I choose Crystal Reports for Eclipse over BIRT or some other open-source reporting tool?
The team at Business Objects has over 14 years of experience creating reporting components for developers. Crystal Reports has been bundled in Microsoft Visual Studio, WebLogic Workshop, Borland JBuilder, Borland C# Builder, and IBM Rational Application Developer. The experience we have gained from these developer bundles has enabled us to learn about and create the tools that developers need in a embeddable reporting tool.
Crystal Reports is one of the top 10 most popular file formats in the world. We estimate that over a billion .RPT report files have been created. Any .RPT file created can be viewed with Crystal Reports for Eclipse. This provides two benefits, first legacy reports created for other applications can be used with Crystal Reports for Eclipse. Secondly, report creation can be off-loaded to professional report writers who use the standalone Crystal Reports Profession tool to create reports. Finding skilled Crystal Report designers is never hard because of its popularity. These reports can then be handed off to the developer to integrate into new and existing applications.
As the product manager of Crystal Reports for Eclipse likes to say, “CR4E is not just about designing reports”. Crystal Reports for Eclipse focuses on the three D’s of reporting: Designing, Developing, and Deploying. Crystal Reports for Eclipse has tooling to help developers at ever step in the process. I was able to demonstrate this in my short talk demonstration at EclipseCon in which I was able to create a new report from scratch, develop the JSP code to display it, and deploy it in a WAR file in 4 minutes.
My advice to anyone about to choose a new reporting tool would be to make sure they include Crystal Reports for Eclipse in their selection process. The big invisible Elephant in the room is alway the price, isn’t it? Maybe that elephant isn’t exactly invisible either. Don’t forget it is free just like its open source cousins. But no software is ever free! The cost of free software is usually found in the support and training. I think you will find that Crystal Reports for Eclipse support rivals that of any of its competitors. As for training, the number of available Crystal Reports experts far out weighs the number of experts in competing technologies. Another bonus is that Crystal Reports for Eclipse creates 90% of the code you will need to embed the reporting engine so even novice developers will quickly be able to create and deploy reporting applications in minutes.
Well I think thats enough for now. I think you get the point, which is to make sure that you include Crystal Report for Eclipse in your evaluation of reporting tools. It will do the rest.
Like I mentioned earlier, EclipseCon really opened some of our eyes to the momentum that Eclipse is gaining as an application framework for Rich Client apps. With this in mind I’ve decided I had better hurry up and get a RCP sample out there to the community. Stay tuned for my sample…