CiviReport and the state of open source reporting packages

2006-11-22 22:51
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This week i've spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what we could potentially do to make reporting part of CiviCRM. A few joomla folks on the list have successfully used a Joomla component DBQ and were fairly happy with it. I did read a fair amount of it and took the next step of actually installing and playing around with it.

DBQ is quite nice, easy to install and works as expected. However, as Dan Robinson pointed out on the email list, it is not a reporting tool, but more a simpler way to execute queries and format them in some manner. A lot of "reporting" functionality is missing (in all fairness to DBQ, it does not claim to be a reporting tool either).

The next stop in my reporting journey was agata. Unfortunately agata does not seem to have kept up to the current software versions. It only works on php 4.3.x and php-gtk1. Its a brazilian OSS project, the information was a bit hard to get/decipher, and i installed quite a few packages on my system, before realizing it was a no-go :(

That kinda exhausted my php options. I figured i might as well try to understand the java reporting scene before we think about doing something in the reporting arena. First stop was Birt. Had to install a few more packages (thank god for my brand new super fast macbook pro, and the macports packaging system). Then installed Birt and upgraded eclipse et al. Tried pretty hard, but just could not get Birt to work on my machine. Could not view the flash demo either. After a frustrating day, decided it was time to pack up and move onto IReport.

At this point, my luck seemed to have changed. I managed to download and install IReport fairly quickly. A quick yahoo! search led me to this tutorial. Pretty soon i had a pretty decent Address Book Report and a Contribution Report (along with Sub-groups organized by State and sub-totals!). So far am fairly impressed and quite happy with it :). I'm probably gonna explore it a bit more over this long weekend and try to hack up something real quick.

Have been looking around for example of PHP integration with JasperReport/IReport and have seen a few examples of SugarCRM being integrated with this. Currently i'm more inclined to reuse an existing open source package and avoid reinventing the wheel. This however does not seem to be a great solution for some part of our user base who might not have access to a Java/Tomcat/Jasper system.

Comments, thoughts and advice gratefully accepted ..


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