Q&A: Agile BI: Lightning Fast Report Development & Data Analysis

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With another exciting webinar presentation having just wrapped up this week, we received many great questions about how to use and develop JReport to help glean the most from your data for better analysis. The answers to some of them can be found in this post!

1. Agile development often requires collaboration between users and developers in different locations.  How can you do this with JReport?

Collaboration between developers and end users is very easy with JReport. JReport Studio allows end users to do many of the same things a developer can do in JReport Designer. The developer can create a template per report, upload it to a server which can be located anywhere in the world, the user can use the browser to run that report, use Studio to modify the report, make changes to it, and change the styles using the CSS style editor– really whatever the end user needs to do.

They then just need to tell the report developer to take a look at what they did, the report developer can download the report, make additional changes, upload it again, and so on. It is very easy to send reports back and forth this way and everyone in the group can try the report, make changes and additions to the report. And everything is versioned, so all the different versions are out there. If you want to go back a few changes and look at an older version of a report to take out a few changes, these versions are available. It is very easy for collaboration between end users and developers when creating reports in an Agile environment.

2. Can JReport be used with a SCM tool such as Clearcase?

Yes, many of our customers use source code control systems like Clearcase or CVS. JReport templates and catalogs can be output in XML format which is easier to put them into Source Code control and see which changes are made. Binary files like images can also be put into source control and versioned. When you’re ready to get to reports and productions you can extract from latest edition to a zip file and from the server itself, publish those to the server. So for a lot of environments the report developers who do not have direct access to the server can tell the administrator where the service code control files are located. The user requests the files and publishes them directly from the archive very easily.

3. If we have multiple environments such as QA, Development and Production databases, how do we change the target data when we publish reports and move through the development cycle? Does each template need to be updated?

No, one of the best features of JReport is the connection of information and that all data source information is stored in the catalog. The catalog has an initial version of the data and when it is published the developer or the administrator on the server side can change all of the connection strings, to a different database or different login ID. There is also an even easier way to do this, all the connection information can be stored in an Excel file data source .XML on the server, and at runtime can be changed easily so that each server will know when it runs a report where to get that information. This means that you can have a QA Server, a Development Server and a Production Server all run the same catalog and reports. However, the target database will be completely different for the different servers.

4) You mentioned re-use of components to speed template building, but I have over 200+ report templates, do you have consulting services?

Yes, our expert staff at Jinfonet can create and deploy report templates to save time for your development staff. Since we operate JReport all the time, our staff is very good at using it and can work quickly to build catalogs and reports much faster than most external users. Some of our larger clients utilize this service a lot to quickly get new applications out that have many reports. If you are interested in further information about JReport Professional Services, we have a webinar coming up at the end of August discussing the capabilities of our experienced Professional Services team.

The Agile BI: Lightning Fast Report Development & Data Analysis webinar is also available for viewing on demand in our webinar library where the powerpoint slides can also be downloaded for future reference! If you have any follow up questions please feel free to reach chat with us and learn more!

 

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