Actuate BIRT Data Visualization Service Features JavaScript API

Michael Vizard
Jul. 11 2014, 11:10AM EDT

Data visualization has never been more popular, but most developers tend to overlook this requirement. As a result, organizations now spend large sums of money on data visualization tools, often just to compensate for what amounts to missing functionality in most of the applications they use.

Looking to help developers rectify this situation, Actuate this week announced the availability of BIRT iHub F-Type, an implementation of a commercial implementation of open source Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) that can be invoked as a service for free.

Nobby Akiha, senior vice president of marketing for Actuate, says via the new subscription service, developers can download a BIRT server in less than 15 minutes. They can then begin to import a BIRT report, share it with others or export it to an Excel spreadsheet. Developers, adds Akiha, can then make use of BIRT iHub F-Type to embed reports that are dynamically updated within their applications via a JavaScript API that Actuate is now exposing as part of the service.

Developers also have the option of downloading a free version of BIRT iHub that they can use on premises versus invoking the Actuate cloud service.

Akiha says that as part of the effort to expand usage of BIRT, Actuate is altering the licensing terms under which it makes the commercial version of BIRT available. Developers that need to output more than 50 MB of data a day will need to subscribe to the Actuate service for a fee.

The lack of data visualization tools in many applications has given rise to a whole data visualization software industry. Even vendors such as SAP are moving to embed visualization tools in their applications.

In fact, there’s a direct correlation between giving users access to data visualization tools and the overall usability of the application. Without access to data visualization tools, end users wind up exporting data to spreadsheets in order to share data with one another. That not only increases the probability of errors being introduced, it often results in a loss of spreadsheet version control.

Ever since BIRT became an open source project, development teams that make use of Eclipse have increased usage of BIRT among 3.5 million developers. Akiha says that Actuate is trying to capitalize on that phenomenon by essentially turning BIRT into a service that is commercially supported by Actuate.

The degree to which BIRT becomes a mainstream element of enterprise applications remains to be seen. But the one thing that is for certain is that applications that include robust data visualization tools are now a prerequisite for adoption in the enterprise.

Michael Vizard

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