A better launcher for the Pentaho Windows clients

shuttle-launcherAs my Macbook Pro gave up after just 4 years of service, and given that Apple removed all serious offers and retained only toys, I am back to using Windows.

But boy, our Windows integration is painful.

On the Mac, I unzip the app-bundle, drag it into “/Applications” and the OS deals with associating it with the prpt files on my disk. Launching the report-designer there feels fairly native (for the amount of work we actually did). Oh, and the JDK is installed and just works. (Well, 1.6, not that crappy Oracle thingie! That’s just buggy like hell.)

On Windows, I get a different story. I have the JDK installed. After the install, I have NOT set the JAVA_HOME, as the installer does not do that. I unzip the report-designer and end up with a directory on the disk that has a report-designer.bat file. Starting that file flashes a console window┬áinto my face. Highly technical, and totally 1980’s.

Clicking on a PRPT file in the Explorer, the Report-Designer does not start. Instead I get a dialog telling me that no application can open that file. Well, I wrote the beast, so I am sure that the report-designer can handle PRPT files. And manually fixing that is ugly. No normal user would go through that.

Its time for a change!

Using my rusty C# skills I normally only use for game-development, I created a small launcher that improves the integration of the Pentaho Fat-Clients with Windows. The launcher is simply a smarterway of invoking the batch-files we use for our products.

The launcher hides the ugly command window and deals with setting up and maintaining the file associations with the .prpt and .prpti files. And the best of all: It works for all existing Pentaho Report-Designer installations. Just drop it into any of your PRD-3.7, 3.8 or 3.9 installation and enjoy a modern experience.

This small change greatly hides the fact that our tools are not native Windows applications and makes launching them feel more native.

So download the (experimental) launcher, put it into your report-designer installation directory and give it a try. In case you encounter problems, please give me a shout here or in the Pentaho Forum so that we can iron them out quickly.

Download the Pentaho Report Designer Launcher.

This entry was posted in Development, Report Designer & Engine on by .
Thomas

About Thomas

After working as all-hands guy and lead developer on Pentaho Reporting for over an decade, I have learned a thing or two about report generation, layouting and general BI practices. I have witnessed the remarkable growth of Pentaho Reporting from a small niche product to a enterprise class Business Intelligence product. This blog documents my own perspective on Pentaho Reporting's development process and our our steps towards upcoming releases.

6 thoughts on “A better launcher for the Pentaho Windows clients

  1. Nate

    Thanks for this. I tried it out on Spoon/Kettle as well and it worked just fine. Here’s what I used for the Pentaho-Launcher.exe.config settings in case anyone else is interested (or knows of better settings to use):

  2. ThomasThomas Post author

    The settings for spoon got mangled in the previous comment, so here are the values for the keys in an alternative form:

    Extensions: .kjb;.ktr
    Executable: Spoon.bat
    JavaVersion: 1.6
    FixJavaHome: True
    ProgramId: PentahoDataIntegration

    you can have multiple launchers in the same directory, so its easy to create one for spoon, one for kitchen, one for pan, etc. Just make sure that only the spoon one has the Extensions-property set. This property controls the file-associations. If all of them have it set, you wont be able to tell which program runs when you double-click on a ktr or kjb file.

  3. Nate

    Thanks Thomas! I figured the “code” block would preserve the XML, but I was wrong!

  4. ThomasThomas Post author

    WordPress ruthlessly removes all non-allowed tags. Otherwise it would be a catch-up game between me and the spammers. They would go wild inventing new tags and doing funny thing. If you use the code tag, its content still has to be encoded:

    &lt; = < and so on.

  5. Matt

    I also tried it out with Spoon.bat and it worked great. Only thing is that when I double click on a ktr or kjb file, it opens Spoon but not the file I clicked on. Any ideas why? Thanks!

    My environment:
    PDI 4.4 CE
    Windows 7
    Java 1.6

  6. Nate

    Thomas,

    Now that PDI is at 5.0 any chance of updating the launcher with the spiffy new icon?

    Thanks!

Comments are closed.