There are many methods of embedding BI reports, this blog tries to explain the meaning of Embedded BI, different approaches which can be used, their respective advantages and disadvantages
A) What is embedded BI?
Lets say you have developed your entire BI solution which includes reports, dashboards, mashups, analysis etc, the platform which is used can be anything like Jaspersoft or Pentaho. The process of integration of this BI solution with your existing application/software/portal is called Embedded BI.
Embedded BI provides a lot of advantages like ability to add more reports over and above the existing canned reports which your application might provide, the look and feel and customization of all the reports can be changed as per the software/user preference, better visualization, unified application for everything. Biggest advantage can be your product value will increase much more, hence resulting in much more sales and revenue.
a) Embedding using iFrame Method :-
iFrame method of embedding BI reports can be used for embedding Jasper server, Jasper reports and Pentaho server, Pentaho reports. The report pulled in this case is using iframe as a tag. Even though the report is external, but to an end customer he will not be able to recognize the same.
The advantages of using iFrame method is this method is fast and quick to implement. The disadvantages includes it will be difficult to manage user, also in this case there can be cross browser compatibility issues, security is a major issue here.
b) Embedding Using webservice:- Webservices can also be used to integrate reports, dashboard, interactive report or/and ad-hoc reports. We can use webservices to accept the information from the Jasper/Pentaho server, this Jasper server can be anywhere ( on Tomcat or any other server). Using webservices we will invoke the response from Jasper Server/Pentaho server. This response can be can be then embedded inside application/software. Jasper server/Pentaho server also supports RESTFUL service (JSON format responses). In this approach there are no or less security related issues.
The disadvantage of this approach is there are no interactive features available of the report which thus results in poor user experience. Also in order to handle and understand the responses from jasper server/Pentaho server, custom coding is required in the application. In case if we had put input controls in the report, the same functionality then needs to be implemented in the application via custom coding. Aside, having many webcalls at times can be resource intensive as well.
The advantage of this approach is webservices approach gives more seamless integration since there is no security issue and no thirdparty calls (like in the case of iframe). Also in this case there are no interbrowser compatibility issues (assuming it is handled by your developer team).
c) Embedding using Jasper/Pentaho Libraries:- In this method we create JRXML/Pentaho report (prpt) files using ireport/Pentaho report designer. Compile these reporting using Java API, and then use this compiled code to generate views using Jasper Server API calls
The advantage of this method is this gives the most seamless integration. Also since all the information is present as a part of the application/server, no third party calls are required.
Disadvantage of this approach is some interactivity is lost in this method. Also the input parameters are also required to be created in the own application via custom coding.
Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org for much more details about the respective approach, how to embed the same using these approaches, which was is the best suited to your needs and much more.