Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Video Series Review: "Pentaho Reporting"

Pentaho Reporting [Video]

Do you sometimes have a need to produce reports?  I surely have!  No matter how technical my job, it seems I've always had a need to demonstrate trends, provide information, help sell some idea.  For all of these, reports are called for.  This review is about a tool that can help you when you need to write slick, professional reports.  That tool is Pentaho Reporting.

If you're like me, you may know Pentaho as the "Kettle company".  Kettle is an open source ETL engine, and it is very useful.  If you work with batch data, you probably ought to have a look at Kettle soon if you haven't done so already.  It really is slick.

This video series mostly involves the "Pentaho Reporting" tool, though.  The video series is broken up into 8 chapters, each composed of some number of sub-units (3 or 4 seems about average).  The runtime for each video is very reasonable, usually 5 minutes or a little longer.  The moderator's voice is pleasant and proper.  The pace of presentation seems about right.

The contents of each section are presented logically.  The highlights:

Lesson 1
Installation.  Opening, saving reports.  Making PDF, etc.
Making a report using a Wizard
Adding database drivers, defining a report from scratch (no wizard)
Customizing a report (headers, grouping, adding graphics, etc.)

Lesson 2
Setting up Eclipse/Tomcat.  Embedding a report in a servlet.  Embedding in a Swing app.  Compressed reports, writing reports through a Java API.

Lesson 3
Configuring the JDBC data sources
Configuring data sources for OLAP engines, XML, Pentaho Kettle, etc.

Lesson 4

Charts and illustrations

Lesson 5

Parameters in reports.  Limiting query results by parameter, specifying this parameter from the Java API. 
Functions and expressions.  Summarizing groups and making totals.  Showing page numbers in footers.

Lesson 6
Subreports and Cross-tab reports (i.e. a report that shows totals by month). 
How to enable this experimental feature.
Lesson 7
Java API to capture events (with a listener), links and mouse events.
HTML reports with interactive links, firing interactive javascript, tying formulas to a button, manipulating the HTML DOM.

Lesson 8
Using Pentaho Reporting with Pentaho Business Itelligence Server.
Setting up the server.  Managing users, roles, scheduling reports.  Setting up automatic emailing of scheduled rpts.
Pentaho Data Integration ('Kettle').  Setting up a small Transformation that kicks off a Reporting job.  Including the Transformation in a Job.  Running the Job both from the IDE and command line.

Does that sound like a lot?  It is a lot to learn!  But fortunately, much of it is intuitive once you see the general way of doing things.  I built some reports along the way, to validate my understanding of what I was seeing.  It's easy once you get going!  Pentaho Reporting also seems like a very capable tool.

So, what's the end verdict?  I highly recommend this video series to anyone tasked with writing reports.  It really does make learning the tool easy, and the video series can be used as a reference if you're already going with Pentaho Reporting.  Watching the videos is painless and relatively quick.  It's hard to think of a downside for this series.

The videos can be found here.

Happy Reporting!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Now in Review: "Pentaho Reporting" video series

Hello Readers,

I had a good experience with my previous JBoss instructional video review, so I'll be following that one up with another video.

This one is another great open source product, Pentaho Reporting.  The series is from Packt, it can be found at this link.

I'll give it a view and should have a review soon.

Happy Coding!