I strongly believe that this is a big win for both communities. OpenOffice was in bad need for a sane reporting system, that is fully integrated into the office suite. Sure, with OpenOffice 2.0, they already introduced one – but this one was more or less a extended mail-merge system. And honestly, I was never able to design a report from scratch with that thing.
Ocke Jansen created a modern (and beautiful) UI to design banded reports now. Adding elements to the report is now a lot easier – just grab the mouse and drag’n’drop them where you want them to appear. Simple and easy to use – that’s how reporting should be.
And once you’ve finished the design, you heat up the engine and tell it whether you want a Text-Document or a Spreasheet-Document. And just in the twinkling of an eye later you get the results.
But the interesting part lies hidden deep inside the engine: The Flow-Engine works natively on the OpenOffice document structures. The engine does not waste time converting the OpenOffice-tables, paragraphs and everything else into an internal proprietary representation – simple take what we get and process it immediatly.
And we do it fast. Displaying the results in the OpenOffice-Writer takes more time than the report generation itself.
And we do it conservatively, with as little memory as possible while preserving all incoming report structures. So no matter what valid OpenDocument content you want to process – the engine will happily accept it from you and produces all the report you always wanted to produce.