Neethling: Multi-View items is new to 2.3 I believe and from what I have read about it, it is definitely a welcome addition to BIRT's feature set. Please tell us a little more about Multi-Views.
Dodson: Multi-view items are available for the Table control and the Crosstab control and they allow you to create a chart from the same data used for the table or crosstab. You can easily create these by right clicking on a table or crosstab and selecting, "Create Chart View". This chart takes up the same physical space within the report as the table or crosstab it references. The decision to show the table data or the chart view can be set dynamically with script allowing the user to decide what they prefer to see.
Neethling: After watching the webinar on designing high performance BIRT reports, I came away with feeling that charts, although possible with BIRT, should only be used when absolutely necessary as they decease performance by up to 150%. Besides highlighting some of the additions to BIRT's chart engine please also tell us about any performance improvements that has been made with BIRT 2.3 in this regard.
Dodson: The Chart Engine has been improved for BIRT 2.3 and includes a number of performance improvements and several new features. When using the Chart Engine within a BIRT report, it now uses the DtE for all its data grouping, sorting, etc. So now chart engine uses the exact same code to do all this that the rest of BIRT uses (read - better performance). As for features, you now have the ability to group on one field and sort on another allowing you to display the data in your desired order. In addition to Data Sets and Report Items, a chart can now get its data from a Data Cube.
Neethling: I must applaud the developers of BIRT on the new Bidirectional (Bidi) Support. This is going to aid localization of reports a lot and open up new territories, so to speak, for BIRT. Please explain exactly what Bidi support is.
Dodson: Bidi support in BIRT allows for bi-directional language support or report elements. You can set BIDI direction for the entire report ( this will reverse tables etc) or for individual items, allowing a mixture of both formats. This feature allows you to have certain report items display from right to left (rtl) instead of left to right (ltr). Currently, this setting must be made inside the XML source of the rptdesign file. Search for “bidi” on the XML source tab in BIRT 2.3 to see this. All the BIRT emitters support the BIDI feature including HTML, PDF, DOC, etc.
Dodson: Both the crosstab and the chart have exposed some new events for writing scripts against. The crosstab events were mentioned above and the chart now has events for controlling the chart markers.