JBoss Seam developer. Current tools/APIs: JSF, Facelets, Richfaces, JBoss AS, EJB3, JPA, Hibernate, Eclipse. Arbi has posted 6 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

iReport 3.7

07.15.2010
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Published by: Packt
ISBN: 1847198805

Reviewer Ratings

Relevance:
4

Readability:
4

Overall:
4

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One Minute Bottom Line

This book is a beginner’s guide to using iReport to create, design, format, and export reports running in a Java platform. If you’re interested in JasperReports (iReport is a GUI tool built on JasperReports) this is a must read. It is fairly short at only 200+ pages with lots of photos. There is a realistic Inventory Management System used as an example throughout the chapters to guide you. No SQL experience is required before reading this book. I enjoyed reading it and recommend it to others interested in beginning iReport. 

 

Review

This book shows you how to develop a simple report, reports with charts, and summary reports in iReport.  It is a good introduction if you are new to iReport or if you are a business intelligence reporting tool user looking for an open source alternative based on JasperReports.

What I liked:

I liked that this book gave me an opportunity to play around with NetBeans 6.8, MySQL and GUI tools. I also like that it used MySQL 5 as the RDBMS because it is free and thus available to all readers. There was excellent coverage in the appendix on how to setup and install a MySQL db. Since iReport is a GUI tool with many visual representations of windows, data, editors, etc., I was happy to see a lot of pictures in this book. I also think that the lead by example approach the author used via the Inventory Management System was very effective.

The author gives a very helpful tip on page 114. It states that the compiled version of the *.jrxml file is a *.jasper file. This is very good to know. I found a Maven plugin here: http://mvnrepository.com/artifact/jasperreports/jasperreports/ which will remove the performance hit when the first reports user accesses your reports (similar to the performance hit for the first access of a JSP when it is compiled to servlet class).

This book gave some good basic coverage needed for reporting. It went into how to use/create page headers and footers and also how to create bar charts and pie charts. You learn how to set background images for reports and how to display images from the hard drive. The author also covered that the data types for images in iReport is BLOB and LONGBLOB and that this data type must be read in a java.io.InputStream. This is really good to know once you start creating and using images in your iReport reports. Also valuable is the section on the drag-and-drop elements in iReport. 

The advanced topics that this book covered well include how to call a report from a Java application, which requires the installation of NetBeans. It explained that a subreport is a complete report placed in another report. There is an excellent section on how to use the appropriate GUI wizards in iReport to create a master report from a template and then some subreports. The author also explained how to call reports from stand-alone Java applications using the net.sf.jasperreports.view.JRViewer class from jasperreports-3.7.0.jar or from a Java web app.

One of the most important aspects of writing business intelligence reports is being able to use and add parameters to your select SQL statements. This topic is covered extensively in the book with many examples such as this: in the WHERE clause of the query, the hard-coded ‘1’ value for SalesNo column is replaced with the parameter/variable: $P{salesNo}: SELECT Sales.Name FROM Sales WHERE Sales.SalesNo=$P{salesNo}.

What I disliked:

I do not particularly like that this book requires you to install and use NetBeans for the examples. I would have preferred Eclipse (like most Java developers these days). There is a iReport plugin for Eclipse: http://marketplace.eclipse.org/content/ireport-plug-eclipse.

The index for this book is poor, as I find with many Packt books. It's missing a lot of entries.

The book's pictures were in black and white. I think color would be more appealing.

The usage of various SQL statements as data sources throughout the book were not supported by an introductory chapter on SQL, which is importnat for true newcomers to the technology.

The last thing that I did not like is that there is no coverage of stored procedures, which are used heavily in the reporting space.

How to improve:

I think this book would vastly improvec by adding coverage on:

  • SQL for beginners (simple joins, selects, group by, order by, etc.)
  • How to incorporate stored procedures
  • Using the Eclipse IDE (most popular Java IDE currently)
  • JasperReports (the underlying library for iReport)
  • How to incorporate iReport and PDFs generated by it with web presentation-tier technologies like JSF and Flex
  • Report performance optimization
Published at DZone with permission of its author, Arbi Sookazian.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Swati Viswanathan replied on Thu, 2010/07/15 - 11:37pm

The book is out now and available from Packt. To read more about it, please visit: http://www.packtpub.com/ireport-3-7/book

Saokat Ali replied on Fri, 2010/07/16 - 11:30pm

Eclipse will die very soon

Dan McCarty replied on Sat, 2010/07/17 - 7:22am

I believe that ireports is bundled with Netbeans hence the use of that instead of eclipse. Perhaps the author should use or inspect the product the book is about before posting reviews. There are better sources for learning about IReports then this anyway

John Philip Solano replied on Mon, 2010/07/19 - 6:01am

Eclipse? Im using netbeans.

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