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SOA developers get Crystal Reports in total Eclipse

Venerable Microsoft-based reporting tools now fit into the Eclipse IDE and are 100 percent Java.

SOA and Web services developers working in the Eclipse development environment have a totally compatible reporting tools option with the release of Crystal Reports for Eclipse. Crystal Reports, which has been available as part of Microsoft Visual Studio for more than a decade, now provides a 100 percent Java version, which is fully integrated into the Eclipse IDE, said Tim Lang, vice president of developer programs at Business Objects SA.

[Business logic artifacts] can be stored in Crystal Reports Server Repository and they can then be leveraged in multiple applications.
Tim Lang
Vice President of Developer ProgramsBusiness Objects SA

Crystal Reports has had many owners during the past decade and a half and is now part of the product line from Business Objects, which unveiled the Eclipse version last week at LinuxWorld in San Francisco.

Asked what led to the year-and-a-half development effort to move venerable Crystal Reports into the Eclipse world, Lang said, "There was a core need that existed."

The discovery of that core need came in conversations with developers, including those working on SOA projects, who wanted to have a simple and reusable reporting tool for Eclipse-based applications, according to Lang.

"As we started speaking to developers, the ability to simplify and have a higher level of reuse was really important," he said. Another driver was simply the growing popularity of Eclipse among developers and the desire of Business Objects to have a product to support developers working with that IDE, he added.

"Eclipse is one of the fastest growing IDEs," he said. "We see it taking significant market share."

The guiding philosophy for the product development project that brought Crystal Reports into the Eclipse world was summed up by one of the project managers who, according to Lang, said: "We want to make the repeatable things simple and we want to make the hard things achievable."

The Eclipse version includes the Crystal Reports repository that is designed to make it possible to reuse business logic such as tax calculations in an SOA implementation, Lang said.

"There may be specific procedural language you want in a report, such as a complex calculation such as a Canadian tax calculation or a US tax calculation," he explained. "Once you've built those they can be stored in Crystal Reports Server Repository and they can then be leveraged in multiple applications. Then if a US tax rule changes, you can change it in one place and all of the other applications that leverage that infrastructure have it as well."

"What we really try and do is make sure we have a very robust backend infrastructure with the services we need to provide," Lang added. "Then on top of that make sure we have a rich set of SDK and Web services so you can take advantage of that."

Since making the beta version of Crystal Reports for Eclipse available in January of 2006 prior to EclipseCon 2006 in March, there have been over 50,000 downloads of the preview software from over 120 countries, according to the Business Objects announcement at LinuxWorld.

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The vendor claims "Crystal Reports has been the de facto standard for embedded reporting for over a decade." It was first bundled with Microsoft Visual Basic more than 14 years ago. The Eclipse release joins a number of IDEs with embedded versions of Crystal Reports including Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, IBM Rational Application Developer, BEA Workshop and Borland JBuilder, according to Business Objects.

A free copy of the basic edition of Crystal Reports for Eclipse version, intended for developers working on initial applications using a single server is available on Business Objects new Diamond Web site. Pricing for enterprise deployments begins at $495 per server.

Diamond, also unveiled at LinuxWorld, is intended to be a meeting place for developers, report designers and other IT professionals working with Business Objects products. Examples of Web services and SOA deployment of Crystal Reports will be available on Diamond, Lang said.

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