When you download the Pentaho software for the very first time, the bunch of cryptic applications can be daunting. Reading about all the new and complex concepts of OLAP-cubes, data-warehouses, ETL processes to fill the data-warehouses or metadata layers is daunting at best.
If all you want to do is start with a report to see your own data printed, then at first, you can ignore the cryptic stuff and stick to the bread-and-butter parts: Using the Pentaho Report Designer to create your first report. Lets find out how.
First, you need to make one critical decision: Is what you want a classic report that is primarily meant to be printed (or used as if being printed)? Or do you want to explore your data to discover new knowledge.
Reading: Learn about the two kinds of reports.
If you are seeking an analytic tool for exploring your data, then you have no other option than to setup a OLAP-Cube to use the Pentaho Analyzer. These days, for simple cases you can get quick results with Pentaho’s Agile BI Initiative, so check them out.
From now on, I assume you are more interested in conventional reports with the sturdiness and durability of real paper. For over 500 years, since the invention of the double-entry bookkeeping, business reporting played a crucial rule in the business world. Reports are made to last.
To get started with the Pentaho Report Designer, you do not need any special setup or a data-warehouse as Pentaho Reporting can work with most relational databases after installing the right JDBC driver. You should get these drivers from your database vendor.
The Pentaho Report Designer already comes with drivers for MySQL, Hypersonic and H2 database systems. You can install your own drivers by copying the driver jar into the “lib/jdbc” directory inside the report designer.
This tutorial uses the sample database that we provide inside the report designer. This step-by-step guide will show you how to setup a database connection, how to get data into your report and how to layout elements to make a visually appealing result. When you use the SQL datasources you need a basic understanding of SQL. If you are not familiar with SQL, you can learn the basics of SQL in this rather good tutorial. Your database manual should also contain a introduction to SQL.
Work through the tutorial and you are ready to make your first steps in the world of Pentaho’s Business Intelligence tools.
There are some articles in this blog that help you further:
- This article explains how you can use aggregates in your report.
- Later you may want to learn more about the various layouting options that Pentaho Reporting offers to you.
- The formula syntax is explained in the Pentaho Reporting Wiki.
- Diethard Steiner explains how to use parameters in the various data-sources
- Will Gorman wrote a whole book about Pentaho Reporting: Pentaho Reporting for Java Developers