Using BIRT reports with IBM Rational Method Composer: Getting started

Steps for using an existing report or creating a basic one of your own

Learn how to to use the capabilities and templates for BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) that are included in IBM® Rational® Method Composer, starting with Version 7.2.

Tushara Gangavaram (tgang@us.ibm.com), Tech Services Engineer, IBM

Tushara GangavaramTushara Gangavaram provides tech services to the Rational Unified Process content team and Rational Method Composer development team. She is also responsible for G11N, publishing and QA for Rational Unified Process content and libraries.



12 February 2008

Overview of BIRT

Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) comprise an Eclipse™-based, open source reporting system that allows publishing in user-defined formats and layouts. The first section of this article describes the BIRT Report Designer component that is integrated into IBM® Rational® Method Composer, Version 7.2. BIRT also offers a charting engine that you can use to add charts to your own application. More information is available in the BIRT section of the Eclipse Web site.

These are among the BIRT capabilities provided in Rational Method Composer:

  • Publishing to documents in alternative output formats, including Microsoft® Word®, Adobe® PDF®, Microsoft® PowerPoint®, and HTML.
  • Creating reports that extract and format information from a Rational Method Composer method library.
  • Selecting from 33 easy-to-use, predefined report templates for Rational Method Composer (included with Rational Method Composer v7.2).

How to run an existing BIRT report

Step 1. Open the Report Design perspective

  1. Starting in the Rational Method Composer workbench, click the Open Perspective icon on the top-right corner, and then select Other.
  1. In the Open Perspective dialog, select Report Design (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Open Perspective dialog
image of dialog box

Step 2. (Optional) Import existing reports from the Rational Method Composer install directory

  1. To import these templates into Rational Method Composer, select File > Import > Existing projects into Workspace.
  1. Click Browse, and navigate to the Rational Method Composer installation location containing the report templates (typically, this is C:\Program Files\IBM\RMC72\rmc\report_templates). You can now see them in the Navigator view's tab in the the Report perspective.

Step 3. (Optional) Select the method configuration that is the data source

The default context is the entire Rational Method Composer method library. If you want to generate a report on a subset of the method library (as specified by a method configuration), you can do this by selecting the appropriate method configuration in the Authoring perspective, and then returning to the Report Design perspective.

Step 4. Run the report

  1. Double-click on the report that you want to run to open the report in the editor.
  1. Click File > View Report.
  1. Next, select the format in which you want to view the report. For example, double-click SingleTask.rptdesign under the Navigator tab to open the editor.
  1. Click File > View Report > View Report as XLS.
  1. When the Parameter dialog box appears, under Select a task, select any task in the drop-down menu, and then check or uncheck other options according to your needs.
  1. Click OK (see Figure 2).
  1. When you see the prompt showing in Figure 3 that asks whether you want to save or open the file (in Excel format), click Save and enter the location where you want to save the file.
  1. Open that Excel file to see the results.
Figure 2. Parameter dialog
image of dialog box
Figure 3. Dialog to save or open in Excel format
image of dialog box

Known issues

If you use the Open library from workspace feature in Rational Method Composer, reports will not always work correctly. The results are correct when you run the report the first time. Subsequent running of the report will result in missing data. This is due to a caching problem in Rational Method Composer and will be fixed in a future release.

The workaround is to export all of the plug-ins and then import them into another library that is not opened with the Open library from workspace feature.

Where to learn more

"Creating Rational Method Composer BIRT reports: An intermediate example" walks you through a scenario for building a report that displays the work products and primary tasks for each role. For more advanced examples, you can review the reports available in the Rational Method Composer install directory (import instructions provided previously).

In addition, a Help section is available within the Rational Method Composer tool:

  1. Select Help > Help Contents.
  2. In the Help explorer, click BIRT Report Developer Guide.

That guide explains, step-by-step, how to create general BIRT reports (not specific to Rational Method Composer libraries).


Creating Rational Method Composer BIRT reports: A basic example

This section walks you through how to create a basic BIRT report that extracts information from Rational Method Composer v7.2. This report example will display a list of plug-ins available in a method library and, for each plug-in, will display its author and change date.

Step 1. Create a report

  1. Starting in the Rational Method Composer workbench, open the Report Design perspective by clicking the Open Perspective icon in the top-right corner, and then select Other.
  1. In the Open Perspective dialog, select Report Design (see Figure 4).
Figure 4. The Open Perspective dialog
image of dialog box
  1. From within the Report Design perspective, at the bottom-left corner there is a tab for Navigator, where you can see the directory structure of the library. Right-click where you want to put the report, and select New > Report from the drop-down menu (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Create a new report
image of menu commands
  1. Type a name for the report, and click Next.
  1. Select Blank report, and click Finish.
Figure 6. Name the new report and open a blank template
image of dialog box

The new blank report opens in the Report Designer on the right side. On the left side, you can see Data Explorer tab where you will create data sources. In Rational Method Composer, a data source is a reference to a method library and a method configuration.

Figure 7. Data Explorer view
image of workspace

Data sets are like queries against a database. Here, you will select the method elements that you want included in the report. Report parameters are used for conditional statements and expressions, such as which plug-in in the library that you want to select.

Step 2. Identify the library and configuration to be the data source

  1. Right click on Data Source, and select New Data Source.
  1. Select Method Library Data Source. (There is an option to enter a name, but in this example, just use the default name, Data Source).
  1. Click Next. (See Figure 8.)
Figure 8. Data Source selection
image of dialog box
  1. Specify the location of library and the configuration, and then click Finish.
  1. (Optional) If you want to work with the library that is currently open in Rational Method Composer, you can also click the check boxes to select the Currently open library and Currently selected configuration.
Figure 9. Specify the location and configuration of the library
image of dialog box

Step 3. Create a data set for plug-ins

This is basically a query to retrieve data from the data source (the library and configuration), which is then used to populate the report.

  1. Right-click Data Set, and then select New Data Set (see Figure 10).
Figure 10. Retrieve data to create a data set
image of menu command
  1. Type Plugins in the Data Set Name field, and then click Next (Figure 11).
Figure 11. Specify the name of the data set
image of dialog box
  1. In the Element type drop-down menu (Figure 12), select Method Plug-in.
  1. Then, from the Selected fields options, check Name, Authors, and Version for these meanings:
    • Name: Name of the plug-in
    • Authors: Names of the plug-in authors.
    • Version: Version of the plug-in (change date)
Figure 12. Provide the element type name and select fields
image of dialog box
  1. Click Finish, and the Edit Data Set – Plugins dialog will appear.
  1. On the left side of this dialog, click Preview Results, and you will see something like what Figure 13 shows.
Figure 13. Preview of results
image of dialog box
  1. Click OK when you are finished.

Step 4. Create a table in the report editor

  1. Drag the Plugins data set into the report editor (Figure 14).
Figure 14. Report editor
image of dialog box
  1. To edit the heading, font style, color, and so forth, right-click on a column heading, and select Edit. You can see the options in General tab, as shown in Figure 15.
Figure 15. Editing options
image of workspace
  1. To edit the name, right-click and select Edit (Figure 16).
Figure 16. How to edit the name
image of workspace
  1. To edit the table borders, hover the cursor over the table in the report editor. This will display the Table icon. When you click on the Table icon, it will display columns and rows in the table (see Figures 17 and 18).
Figure 17. How to edit table borders
image of dialog box
Figure 18.
image of workspace
  1. In the bottom left pane of the Report Editor workspace, click the Outline views tab to expand Body and then Table until you see Header and Detail.
  1. Under Header and Detail, you will see the Row option (Figure 19). Expand Row, and click the first Cell underneath.
  1. From the menu to the right of the directory tree, click the Properties tab and then Border, under that, to select the border style and color.
Figure 19. How to edit table cell borders and colors
image of workspace
  1. When you have finished editing the cells in the table, you can preview the report by clicking the Preview tab in the report editor.

The result in Preview will look like Table 1.

Table 1. Preview of results
NameAuthorsVersion
tech.radNA (not applicable)2.0
core.informal_resourcesNA2.0.1
extend-bus_modelNA3.0
core.base_conceptsIBM Rational1.0.1
tech.rsaNA3.1
extend.formal_resourcesNA2.0.1
core-base_resourcesIBM Rational Unified Process® (RUP®)7.0.1
soa.rup_somaNA2.4
modernize.legacy_evolNA2.0
tech.j2eeNA4.0.1

Resources

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