Top 3 open source business intelligence and reporting tools

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This article reviews three top open source business intelligence and reporting tools. In economies of big data and open data, who do we turn to in order to have our data analysed and presented in a precise and readable format? This list covers those types of tools. The list is not exhaustive—I have selected tools that are widely used and can also meet enterprise requirements. And, this list is not meant to be a comparison—this is a review of what is available.


BIRT is part of the open source Eclipse project and was first released in 2004. BIRT is sponsored by Actuate, and recieves contributions from IBM and Innovent Solutions.

BIRT consists of several components. The main components being the Report Designer and BIRT Runtime. BIRT also provides three extra components: a Chart Engine, Chart Designer, and Viewer. With these components you are able to develop and publish reports as a standalone solution. However, with the use of the Design Engine API, which you can include in any Java/Java EE application, you can add reporting features in your own applications. For a full description and overview of it’s architecture, see this overview.

The BIRT Report Designer has a rich feature set, is robust, and performs well. It scores high in terms of usability with it’s intuitive user interface. An important difference with the other tools is the fact it presents reports primarily to web. It lacks a true Report Server, but by using the Viewer on a Java application server, you can provide end users with a web interface to render and view reports.

If you are looking for support, you can either check out the BIRT community or the Developer Center at Actuate. The project also provides extensive documentation and a Wiki.

BIRT is licensed under the Eclipse Public License. It’s latest release 4.3.2, which runs on Windows, Linux and Mac, can be downloaded here. Current development is shared through it’s most recent project plan.


TIBCO recently acquired JasperSoft, the company formerly behind JasperReport. JasperReport is the most popular and widely used open source reporting tool. It is used in hundreds of thousands production environments. JasperReport is released as Enterprise and Community editions.

Similar to BIRT, JasperReport consists of several components such as the JasperReport Library, iReport Report Designer, JasperReport Studio, and JasperReport Server. The Library is a library of Java classes and APIs and is the core of JasperReport. iReport Designer and Studio as the report designers where iReport is a Netbeans plugin and standalone client, and Studio an Eclipse plugin. Note: iReport will be discontinued in December 2015, with Studio becoming the main designer component. For a full overview and description of the components, visit the homepage of the JasperReport community.

A full feature list of JasperSoft (Studio) can be viewed here. Different from BIRT, JasperReport is using a pixel-perfect approach in viewing and printing it’s reports. The ETL, OLAP, and Server components provide JasperReport with valuable functionality in enterprise environments, making it easier to integrate with the IT-architecture of organisations.

JasperReport is supported by excellent documentation, a Wiki, Q&A forums, and user groups. Based on Java, JasperReport runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac. It’s latest release 5.5 is from October 2013, and is licensed under GPL.


Unlike the previous two tools, Pentaho is a complete business intelligene (BI) Suite, covering the gamut from reporting to data mining. The Pentaho BI Suite encompasses several open source projects, of which Pentaho Reporting is one of them.

Like the other tools, Pentaho Reporting has a rich feature set, ready for use in enterprise organisations. From visual report editor to web platform to render and view reports to end users. And report formats like PDF, HTML and more, security and role management, and the ability to email reports to users.

The Pentaho BI suite also contains the Pentaho BI Server. This is a J2EE application which provides an infrastructure to run and view reports through a web-based user interface. Other components from the suite are out of scope for this article. They can be viewed on the site from Pentaho, under the Projects menu. Pentaho is released as Enterprise and Community editions.

The Pentaho project provides it’s community with a forum, Jira bug tracker, and some other collaboration options. It’s documentation can be found on a Wiki.

Pentaho runs on Java Enterprise Edition and can be used on Windows, Linux, and Mac. It’s latest release is version 5.0.7 from May 2014, and is licensed under GPL.


All three of these open source business intelligence and reporting tools provide a rich feature set ready for enterprise use. It will be up to the end user to do a thorough comparison and select either of these tools. Major differences can be found in report presentations, with a focus on web or print, or in the availability of a report server. Pentaho distinguishes itself by being more than just a reporting tool, with a full suite of components (data mining and integration).

Have you used any of these tools? What was your experience? Or, have you used similar tool not listed here that you would like to share?

See my list of top 5 open source project management tools.

Former and Open Organization moderator/ambassador.


You did not mention about SpagoBI

and Stimulsoft Reports Server as well...

In reply to by Joseph John (not verified)

Thanks for the mention of BIRT and Actuate in your review... Watch for changes July 10th - they're not quite public so I can't say exactly, but the announcement will be exciting and shake things up.

Thanks for the heads up Virgil, I'll be sure to check on news then.

In reply to by Virgil Dodson (not verified)

I don't see Talend in your list. I sligthly prefer it over pentaho.


I like NextReports ( . It's more user friendly and has great potential.

If you are open-source minded, you should not delete others posts. I will let you be ...

I'd like to mention a fairly new OSBI tool called ReportServer ( Besides many other features it allows to run both, reports generated with Jasper and with Birt.

Thanks for mentioning this tool Arno. What I like about it, is the integration with JasperReport, BIRT and Crystal Reports. And of course, that it is open source.

In reply to by Arno Mittelbach (not verified)

Hi Robin,
the new version (2.2) is out, and besides Jasper, Birt and Crystal, ReportServer now also offers OLAP (Mondrian) and extended JXLS support. I'd be happy to hear any thoughts.

In reply to by robinmuilwijk

Since version 8, Odoo has a great BI module:

But it is limited to reporting on Odoo apps.

I would say that BIRT and JasperReports are reporting tools and NOT Business Intelligence Tools. Pentaho and SpagoBI are proper BI tools.

Syed, you are right. I did a mix of BI and reporting in this review. Because some of the reporting tools are actually part of a suite, and are closer to BI.

In reply to by Syed Asad (not verified)

Hi Robin,

Thank you very much for this article. I am an Oracle DBA, interested in knowing about BI and Reporting. Can you tell me concisely or refer me to an article to particularly understand what this "Reports" are all about ? What "intelligence" are we talking about when literal meaning of BI is considered ? Being a DBA we gather DB's metrics to know the CPU, IO, SWAP etc in the form of report to understand the performance. If BI is used for business purpose reports then what are the pre-requisites and knowledge required by the person creating the report or using this BI tool ? What's the logic used ?


Hi Pratik,

With BI I'm referring to, to transform raw data into meaningful and useful information. This could be data on any specific topic: finance, healthcare etc. The person building such reports will need knowledge on the data, database models, and of course the report tool itself. The reports are to make such raw data readable for humans. You could easily do the same, of your Oracle stats are stored.

In reply to by Pratik Mehta (not verified)

One more open source business intelligence and reporting tool called as Answergen- It is Business intelligence and simplified tool.

Hi,may I suggest also to have a look at Seal Report (, this open source reporting tool is 100% .Net C# and focus on operational reporting...
Thank you for your listing.

Hi Robin, Which are best BI tool for customization and please explain on which criteria?

Thanks to reply
Actually I am looking for
"Which is a most flexible & customizable open source & Licensed BI Reporting tool in terms of creating new features & functionality for reports using SDK development."

For instance:

BIRT/ Actuate, SpagoBI, Pentaho, RapidMiner, Jaspersoft, KNIME, Pyramid Analytics, Yellowfin, Chartio, Panorama Necto, MicroStrategy, ZOHO, Arcplan, Tibco SpotFire, Infor

There are several ways of looking at licensing, especially in terms of code contributions, and what position you are in. I did not check on how flexible the tools are, or if any SDK is available, I'm sure you can find that on their site.

In reply to by vikram (not verified)

Wanted to introduce


I join those who have thanked for this topic. It is really welcome.

Well, I am also looking for a such tool reports but I am not sure if the listed here are exactly what I want. To be honest, I'm used to open source platforms, but not with the reports platforms. For these reasons, I appeal to your kindness and training in this field, to guide me toward the platform that could suits to my needs.

I run a sales force. Let us suppose that there are somewhere around of 2,000 sales people. These people go five days out of seven on the field and meet with different situations. These situations, good or bad, I want to get them on such a platform daily, where sales agents have access and enter this information at the end of the work day.

This information will reach managers and administrative people through this platform where they will be able to work with such information and reports. I also would like for them to have the possibility to send feedback, to one or many sales persons at the time.

In conclusion: This platform must be hosted by a server online. It must provide access to all salesmen, to each one with different account, offering them the reporting tools needed. Managers should have access to this information where they can centralize and group the reports, for a concentrated report, which will be send by them to people who are above them in the structure. Not ultimately, the platform should be fully controlled by admin.

Other tools such as forum, chat, glossary, etc., would also be welcome, but not necessarily needed.

Thank you in advance for your answers and recommendations.

this was really helpful.
i have my exam in 2 hour... it help me in studying..
thank you very much...

I'd add Metabase ( to the list.

We're focused on providing a super easy to install, easy to use BI tool targeted towards non-analysts. We have super simple ad hoc queries, dashboards and nightly emails as well as Slack integration.

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