Jinfonet Delivers Easier-to-Use Java Reporting Tool
August 31, 2004 Alex Woodie
You don’t have to be a Java developer to get something out of Jinfonet‘s latest reporting tool. Not that you did with previous versions, but JReport Version 7.0, announced this month, features new ad-hoc reporting capabilities that allow people at practically any skill level to build reports from JDBC data sources, on the fly. There’s also a new migration utility for Crystal Reports, JReport’s primary competition.
Anybody who can command their pointer to drag and drop data elements in a Web browser can create reports with the new on-the-fly report writing capability in JReport Analysis, the updated ad hoc report design component of the JReport suite. The new feature allows users to create, modify, and view reports in either banded or tabular formats, and allows users to slice and dice the reports in different ways, including filtering, sorting, pivoting, and drill-down and drill-up capabilities.
Previously, Jinfonet offered ad hoc reporting through its DHTML interface, but it was more of a report customization functionality than an interface for creating reports from scratch, says a Jinfonet spokesman. JReport Analysis was first introduced with JReport Version 6, which Jinfonet launched in December. It joined the other two core components of the JReport suite, including the PC-based JReport Designer and the JReport Server, which installs on OS/400 servers and other computers that run Java and handles report distribution, scheduling, and other tasks.
JReport 7 also includes the Crystal Converter, which automatically migrates reports built with Business Objects‘ Crystal Reports software into the JReport environment for editing and analysis.
Rockville, Maryland, based Jinfonet was founded in 1998, when it launched the first version of JReport. Since then, a number of large banks, manufacturers, governmental entities, and other companies, including some OS/400 shops, have licensed the software. Jinfonet also courts third-party software developers, who embed JReport into their own products.
One of the developers working with JReport is Prologic Technology Systems, an Austin, Texas, provider of education software systems for the K-12 market. Prologic is developing a new J2EE-based package for Texas school districts, called TEAMS, which will use JReport to generate reports required by the state, as well as other reports, says Jeff Pepper, Prologic product manager.
In addition to supporting Texas state financial requirements, JReport will go far in streamlining the way that teachers apply for jobs through TEAMS, Pepper says. For example, at one Texas district, with 50 schools that hires about 600 new teachers every year, hiring managers currently are required to contact the district’s human resources department, which will manually search for good candidates, then mail copies of those applications to the hiring manager, Pepper says. With JReport guiding the process, people will apply for jobs with the district online, and hiring managers will then use JReport Web-based interface to search for likely applicants and print out the application from their local PC.
Prologic selected JReport over other Java-based reporting tools for two reasons, Pepper says. First, JReport could handle changes made to the back-end database, such as relocating of fields, without causing developers to have to rewrite their reports. Secondly, JReport supported ad-hoc reporting, which has been enhanced with Version 7.0. Prologic expects TEAMS to be deployed on iSeries servers as well as other platforms. The company is currently providing support for about 50 users of the OS/400-based CIMS III education software system, which its developer, Pearson NCS, in Bloomington, Minnesota, has said it will sunset in 2006.
JReport 7 is available now. JReport Designer starts at $2,000, while JReport Analysis component costs $7,500 for five concurrent users. The JReport Enterprise Server costs $23,000 per CPU, for an unlimited number of users. Jinfonet also offers a starter package that supports five concurrent users for $12,000. For more information, go to www.jinfonet.com.