Actuate takes enterprise reporting to open source

Business intelligence software vendor Actuate Corp. is hitching its wagon to the open-source movement in the hope of seeing its applications get even broader acceptance in the marketplace.

The South San Francisco-based software maker announced Tuesday that it’s becoming a strategic development member of the Eclipse Foundation, an independent organization that helps oversee open-source development projects. By co-launching the open-source Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project, Actuate wants to take away some of the complexity from hand-coding reports using JavaServer Pages. The BIRT code, which will benefit from Actuate’s technical expertise, will be created from scratch and targeted primarily at Java developers and power users.

Actuate wants the feedback of the open-source community, Mark Coggins, senior vice-president of engineering at the company, said during a conference call to discuss the move. He also said in a statement that working with the Eclipse Foundation would be a way of developing the application with the principles of “transparency and meritocracy, where the best ideas and methods will be incorporated.”

By making reporting tasks simpler and more easily adopted, the company envisions BIRT as eventually being an enterprise-ready rival to Microsoft Corp.’s Reporting Services platform.

Actuate will embed BIRT-generated code into its own commercial applications at the same time the technology becomes part of open-source development. The company may also offer paid technical support around BIRT, and other companies will be free to develop and sell products built around it, in accordance with the Eclipse Public License model.

The project proposal will be posted on the Eclipse Web site and will be available for public review and comment over the next 30 days.

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