ETL/Reporting deathmatch

To bring new life to the eternal ETL vs. Reporting deathmatch, Thomas Morgner (lead developer for Pentaho Reporting) and myself wrote a plugin for Kettle to drive the shiny new reporting engine that is being developed.  It seems that each time we meet for a short while, some code is being written. 🙂
The new engine works a lot like a HTML/CSS processor and is one of the really cool new things on the block.  I’m sure you will hear a lot more about it once it’s actually finished.

This is what the plugin looks like:

Pentaho reporting plugin screenshot

I dumped the source code into subversion over on Javaforge for the time being.

Subversion checkout is at URL: , username: Anonymous , password: anon

If you want to join the coding effort, let me know and I’ll give you subversion write access.   A binary version of the first plugin draft can be found over here.  Download the zip file and unzip it in the plugins/steps/ directory of your 2.4.0 Kettle distribution.  Restart Spoon and you’re set.
The easiest way to get started is by using the included “auto-start.xml” report definition.  You can simply send some rows to the plugin and it will generate a (one-page) report from it.  PDF seems to work already, the rest I’m told is a bit shaky.
NOTE: This is not production grade software and for sure a lot of functionality is still missing.  However, consider helping us make this better ;-)  That way, when the new Pentaho Reporting engine is ready, this plugin will also be ready.

Whatever the case, soon the questions with regard to “PDF Output”, “Excel Output”, etc. will all be gone.  Then you can create documents in whatever layout you want.
Until next time,


13 thoughts on “ETL/Reporting deathmatch”

  1. Matt,
    As kettle is the entry point for many to the wonderful world of Pentaho I think integrating your reporting solution is a wise move. Have you seen Proto ( A product with a similar design to Kettle but with a Viewer module, (GUIs can be built using Button and Grid controls). Kettle already has most of the building blocks, if it too had visual controls it would allow us to plug-in that most versatile of all ETL tools, the user!

  2. Works fine for me, it’s probably Javaforge itself that’s damaged, if you know what I mean…
    Please try to download it again, the size is 5.1MB (5.371.029 bytes)

    If you want to build yourself from source, we have an Ant target “deploy” that will copy all required plugin files to the location specified in “build.xml”.


  3. Hi Tom,

    You probably wondered where you comment went, but it was a mailserver problem that sucked up the approval for it. (we have +1000 spam messages on this blog… each month)

    Well, thanks for the link. I once tried to start a Kettle spin-off project called metadata dialog that is still interesting to me. The idea there too was to create dialogs based on metadata, not just code. I’m not so sure about that approach anymore though. The more you shift into the metadata, the harder it becomes to catch problems at design time. It almost becomes a phylosophical discussion from that point on 🙂

    However, if you can lift it from the “dialog” stage to the “application” stage, that’s where it would begin to really interest me as this new application-metadata would be run in an engine, a virtual environment much like the Kettle transformation engine and there you could add design time verifications.

    Anyway, it’s just more proof that there is still lots of stuff that needs to be coded 😉

    All the best,

  4. I have tried to access the binary download but fails…
    Do you have any alternative ways to get this plug-in?

  5. Hi,

    I cannot download either. Is there hope to get a version 3.0 compatible version of this unofficial plugin in the future?

    Please save my day!


  6. Yes, there is hope. In February we should have a v1.0 of Pentaho Reporting. By then there will also be a new v3 plugin.

    In the mean time you can use the Pentaho platform and a simple .xaction to do the same.
    The Kettle component in the platform can read output from any given step and pass that data onto a report.


  7. Hi Thouni,

    I’m no platform expert myself, but browse our website for more information.
    Specifically, look for information about our Design Studio. Design Studio is a graphical tool that will allow you to create action sequences.;

    Also note that the ETL example in the Preconfigured Installation (PCI) also carries an example of passing ETL data into a simple report.

    All the best,


  8. Hi Matt,

    I can’t download the source codes in svn web site. Could you mind send me the source code by email ?

  9. Hi Ricky, I actually do mind since I’ve got better things to do AND because it’s over 100MB.
    Why don’t you download it from the Pentaho project on SourceForge?

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