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Pentaho and Jaspersoft: Good Alternatives To Bigger-Name Software?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the how-much-lemonade-did-you-sell? dept.

Open Source 57

Nerval's Lobster writes "Jeff Cogswell, the developer who recently offered a 'gentle' rant about the current state of software development and installers, returns with a comparison of two players in the open-source BI space, Pentaho and Jaspersoft. 'If you believe the hype, the business-intelligence tools offered by some of the world's largest software companies also pack a substantial punch,' he writes. 'But these systems are often difficult to install and maintain, not to mention downright expensive. Small and medium-sized businesses typically can't afford software platforms that cost upwards of several hundred thousand dollars, but that doesn't mean they're cut off from BI tools in general. In fact, there are some decent open-source options.'"

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ends with question mark right? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42326835)

Then NO

Re:ends with question mark right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42328309)

This meme [] can't end soon enough. I'd say it's a year overdue.

Re:ends with question mark right? (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 years ago | (#42328727)

Is it Time for this Meme to End?
Click here for the whole story [] !

WTF (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42326877)

Get this shit off slashdot.
Didn't you spin off the craptastic slashbi for this very reason?
Fucking timothy. Again.

Re:WTF (-1, Offtopic)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42327019)

Why modded down? This belongs on SlashBI (where I don't have to see it).

And several hundred thousand dollars for SOFTWARE? No wonder this stuff's being hyped, that's not a gravy train, that's a gravy pipeline!

Re:WTF (0, Offtopic)

game kid (805301) | about 2 years ago | (#42327033)

I don't blame timothy per se; it's more likely the nebulous Management (Geeknet? Dice? whoever was above even them who decided that /. should go from Taco to Geeknet to Dice?) ordere^Wasked timothy and friends to put their names behind (articles that link to) that corporate section of the site, that it may lend some community cred and ad hits to what is otherwise indeed an utterly worthless whitepaper-fest.

Now whether timothy can lend some community cred to anything is a whole other matter. ;)

Re:WTF (0)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42327165)

Yeah but since no one goes to SlashBI they repost the stories here to try to drive up page clicks. It's like how samzenpus posts idle stories outside of the idle section since he knows many people have idle submissions blocked.

Boycott Pentaho and Jaspersoft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42326969)

Down with slashvertisements!

Re:Boycott Pentaho and Jaspersoft (0)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42327179)

Pentaho & Jaspersoft are open source retard.

Re:Boycott Pentaho and Jaspersoft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42327245)

That make money upselling the proprietary, commercial versions. It's still a Slashvertisement.

Re:Boycott Pentaho and Jaspersoft (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42328931)

That's terrific. I've been looking for some open source retard.

Pentaho sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42327005)

Have you looked at the Pentaho source or try to use it? This is an amature operation and cannot be compared to something like Cognos.

Re:Pentaho sucks (0)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 2 years ago | (#42328941)

And why would you want to use software named after five ladies of the night?
Talk about sucking...

From Personal Experience (DNRTFA) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42327057)

From my personal experience Jasper Decisions was the biggest pile of crap I ever had the misfortune to have to support.

Not commenting any further as I DNRTFA, and don't' care to since it seems rather commercial

Freemium (5, Interesting)

lucm (889690) | about 2 years ago | (#42327133)

Those are products which have different licenses for the "community" edition and the "real" ones. I've used both and even the commercial editions are quite unpleasant to deal with, plus they steer you to a proprietary stack, just like more mature offerings (Cognos, BO, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.)

Commercial BI products are usually either brutal or too clever for their own good. Those two, Jasper and Pentaho, are more of the same, plus they feel like you need to have the guy who designed them to sit besides you and explain what to do. And community/forum-driven support is not that great.

The most interesting open reporting solution is definitely BIRT, it runs circle around Jasper: []

Re:Freemium (1)

j_kenpo (571930) | about 2 years ago | (#42327441)

Or the community website at []

I am definitely more of a BIRT fan for reporting, but thats not to say that the Pentaho suite doesn't have its advantages too. I personally like their ETL tool and prefer it over tools like TalonD. But that is a personal preference.

Re:Freemium (1)

Yesfan001 (1060170) | about 2 years ago | (#42330069)


I think you meant Talend [] , right?

I have used the ETL functions of both Pentaho and Talend, as well as Informatica (and MS SSIS a smidgen). Right now, I am using Talend Open Studio for several production integration worfklows. It works well. The only issue I have with it is that you need to know some Java syntax, at least, to create calculations and expressions. Since I am not very fluent in Java, that makes Talend a little tougher for me to use.

The BIRT suite has always sounded impressive. If I become better skilled at Java in the future, I will certainly check it out.

I have never used Jaspersoft, so I cannot comment on it.


Re:Freemium (1)

Yesfan001 (1060170) | about 2 years ago | (#42330207)

Blast - the link should be Talend. []
Sorry about that.


Re:Freemium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42328741)

Last time I checked BIRT was for reporting only, not for Business Intelligence. So it covers only a small sliver of the scope of the two tools in question.

Re:Freemium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42329229)

We're currently in the process of replacing Jaspersoft. Their report development tools are sorely lacking, resulting in even simple reports being too complex to develop in a reasonable amount of time. The resulting reports are often brittle and when something does go wrong, it spews java debug info directly to the end user. The JasperReports server process has its own set of issues and would often hang. We've tried to work with Jaspersoft support to resolve many of the issues, but the general response is that they would be happy to have us work remotely with the Professional Services for an additional charge. Charging for support doesn’t surprise me, but the issues we’ve experienced are not unique to our installation and are generally well documented among other end users. Considering that our licensing is over 20k a year, I would think they would want to ensure their product worked for us, ensuring contract renewal.

The company I work for develops a SAAS tool, so I am not unfamiliar with end user issues, learning curves, installation and other growing pains. The difference is we want our product to work for you, not just bill you for the next upcharge. We work directly with end users, often sending ‘implementation gurus’ on-site, ensuring that our product meets your needs. The bottom line: we want you to succeed with our product and we do everything in our power to ensure that happens.

Re:Freemium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42330179)

Pentaho...feel like you need to have the guy who designed them to sit besides you and explain what to do. And community/forum-driven support is not that great.

Using Pentaho at work, and this is completely true. Their documentation and lack of examples is appalling. And their support is below average (although not totally non-existent, they can't answer anything advanced about their product).

Re:Freemium (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 2 years ago | (#42333157)

We use Jasper, just the open source version, and for us it's fine.

The learning curve sucks and the documentation isn't great, but we came to Jasper from Crystal Reports. We were using a version of Crystal server software that was $650 per server, period, in 2003. When we last talked to Crystal in 2009, it was $7500 per server [i]per year[/i]. I'm sure Fortune 1000 companies wouldn't blink at that kind of expense, but when we got the email with the quote from their sales team it went around the IT department as a practical joke. We have an antique server in the corner running the old reports, and everything new is in Jasper.

We did spend some time with Jasper Server, the full version, and it was a decent product but when the first renewal came up the price doubled. We figured they were going to take us down the same ever-escalating prices as Crystal, so we ditched the proprietary portions we were using and wrote our own replacements.

Re:Freemium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42334233)

yeah Jasper is a real pain to use. It's got nothing on the likes of Microstrategy or even GoodData. Their community edition is a shitty scaled down version of their commercial version. The only reason why it exists is to push people to their commercial edition. The latest version (5) doesn't even have decent looking charts. It's in the commercial version!

Buzzwords (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42327139)

Stop associating open source with buzzwords, Point [] .

These are essentially reporting tools, and I saw mention of ETL, which seemed conceptually similar to DTS/SSIS packages. Reporting is a part of business intelligence sure, but if it's the only intelligence your business has, you probably don't have one, or won't have one for long.

Also, I started my IT career writing reports, I don't miss it, if I was to even consider writing reports for a business, I'd require BIDS & SSRS period, then again probably I probably wouldn't do it anyways :)

Re:Buzzwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42327971)

Stop associating open source with buzzwords

Ha! You realize "open source" itself is nothing but a buzzword to market free software? Do some reading. []

Re:Buzzwords (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42328349)

So, Jasper source [] missed the point then?

Re:Buzzwords (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | about 2 years ago | (#42328867)

If you don't know what ETL is you shouldn't be making any BI-related commentary. Also, stop using so many MS-specific acronyms.

Re:Buzzwords (1)

kdataman (1687444) | about 2 years ago | (#42332063)

I have been a full-time independent Crystal Reports consultant since 1995. I have helped hundreds of customers improve their business with nothing more than a copy of Crystal Reports and (if needed) a third party tool for scheduling or Email delivery or end user viewing. None of my clients would have a use for these 'full stack' BI tools. They may be free but the cost in time to implement them and even to understand what they do is not free. I have found that $450 for a copy of Crystal and maybe a few hundred for some extra tools can make a huge difference to people who are managing small businesses with spreadsheets. I am still waiting for a better combination to come along but haven't found one. Of course, I might be a bit biased.

WTF is BI? (1, Offtopic)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about 2 years ago | (#42327149)

I wish the summary explained what BI is, for all of us that are too lazy to click on TFA and find out ourselves.

Re:WTF is BI? (1, Funny)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42327255)

BI = Big Idiots. As in "Only Big Idiots buy into buzzwordy BI tools".

Re:WTF is BI? (5, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#42327263)

Business Inelegance.

Simply put, they are reporting and statistical and analytical tools.

Re:WTF is BI? (3, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#42327281)

Dag Nabbit!
Business Intelligence Curse you Chrome Spell check!

Re:WTF is BI? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#42327303)

Granted Business Inelegance fits with the tools too.

Re:WTF is BI? (1)

BeerAndLoathing (810465) | about 2 years ago | (#42327533)

As a regular user of iReport, you were right the first time

Re:WTF is BI? (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about 2 years ago | (#42329495)

Seconded. Thirded. Motion Passed.

Simple example, adding a title image to a report in iReport. Works fine until you publish to a JasperServer, then 404. First up it puts the absolute path to the image into the report even when the image is in the same folder as the report. Then to see the image in the server, you gotta reference repo:image.jpg instead of image.jpg. That's a simple thing to fix to use one reference model in iReport and the server side.

Unless I've missed a local repo definition in iReport, then feel free to educate me.

Re:WTF is BI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42329765)

You can easily add a conditional expression that define the location of the image (repo:... or absolute) based on a parameter indicating whether the report is run on the server, or not.

Re:WTF is BI? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 2 years ago | (#42328673)

Curse you Chrome Spell check!

Chrome is more astute than you think...

Re:WTF is BI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42333769)

Yes, it is of course true that they are reporting, statistical and analytical tools. However, I would like to add that the thought and foresight that goes into the specifics of report design or statistical modeling is anything but simple. Intelligence is required to use reporting, statistical and analytical tools in a meaningful way to make complex decisions that effect business development or operations. Even further, intelligence is required to package BI tools in such a way that they are in and of themselves a sellable product (e.g., tools designed to support decision making using a third party's data)

Re:WTF is BI? (2)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 2 years ago | (#42327669)

BI puts people like you into a OLAP cube and tells us what are the two largest quartiles of major metropolitan areas where people were too lazy to click on TFA and how many Starbucks in those areas which also happened to sell "Super-Pay-Attention Kenyan Ultra Blend" beans took a loss on that particular item.

Re:WTF is BI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42332761)


That's people who like sex with both men and women.

Hands-on experience with SAS and Pentaho (2)

Retiefdv (1331205) | about 2 years ago | (#42327185)

I have about 30 years experience as a SAS user and have done a number of installations. However SAS is expensive and can be very complex to install. Pentaho is extremely easy to install and it's ETL tool is very powerful with an intuitive user interface, especially when you realise all this data processing power is available for free! When I look at the power of open source tools like Pentaho I think Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, probably has a few restless nights.

More to the issue... (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#42327229)

How much of the BI tool do most organizations use?

The real issue is that most businesses spend all this money for the tool they barely utilize. They let their Corporate EGO get in the way, figuring that they deserve the best out there. While all they really want is a basic Reporting Tool, or a dashboard. As well they get caught in the we may need it in the future trap. Where most of the time the cost of migrating from an old system to a new one, is less than the continued maintenance and support of the bigger product.

For most organizations they just need a number of small self developed applications/Database Queries, mixed with simple reporting that display key metrics.
However they will tend to buy the beast of the system use the basic features, where setup is the same as developing it yourself + the Extra cost of the system + Extra Time, because the system was designed to do more that means the implementation staff if going thru extra hoops to get things done.

They buy the tool, then they come up with projects for it. While they should be going the other way, list the projects they need done and find the tool for the job.

I am OK with the Multi-Million Dollar systems, they do their job however companies should get smarter on deciding if and when they should switch over.

Re:More to the issue... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#42327641)

I've had to deal with a number of these tools throughout my career and the one thing that sticks in my mind with all of them is how difficult they are to install and learn, and how expensive they all are. Not ONE package was run out of the box in any of the installations I've dealt with, all required a number of customizations to fit the needs of the org it was installed for. Not too sure how you fix that, obviously bidness needs and all that.

Re:More to the issue... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#42327795)

Now the extra work and expense would be worth it, if the company had a BI strategy behind it. Get it setup first then rerun many times over. Which may be better than a lot of smaller home built programs.

Re:More to the issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42332871)

Perhaps there is no business intelligence to report on....

Pentaho (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42327327)

I had the pleasure of working with Pentaho recently for some ETL and dashboards. The ETL suite is amazing, and works extremely well. The dashboard features are a bit lacking, if for no other reason than because they are in the process of upgrading their dashboard framework. The documentation is ok, but contains many errors and is not well versioned (meaning you can't be sure what applies to version 3 or 4).

Never had the chance to touch jaspersoft.

Re:Pentaho (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42328659)

Pentaho is an awesome name. Much more appealing than octomom.

No mention of BIRT (3, Informative)

j_kenpo (571930) | about 2 years ago | (#42327401)

Where is BIRT in this list? BIRT is open source and a top level Eclipse project. It is fully featured out of the box, is extensible, and is implemented and backed by several large companies. It is supported by every major Open Source reporting server (Pentaho, SpagoBI), and for enterprise conscious folks there is a commercial option. And it does away with that god awful banded report design model that is a hold over from the ancient Crystal Reports in favor of a more flexible report design paradigm. My guess is that Pentaho and Jasper paid SlashBI more money for a front page slashvertisement.

Re:No mention of BIRT (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | about 2 years ago | (#42329001)

BIRT is great but it's not a full BI suite. That said, we did select it here for reporting vs Pentaho's reporting. We have over 8,000 US locations generating reporting off of it daily and it works reliably with minimal issues.

I've use Pentaho's offerings for a few years... (1)

Laughing Dog (913885) | about 2 years ago | (#42328203)

... and I like them. I'm a geologist who got stuck handling all of the lab data for my company. We make building products (think stucco and plaster- lots of mixture designs and standardized test procedures). We're also a small business, and we don't have the money to hire someone solely to handle IT or even to buy one of the commercial packages.

What we've got: a PostgreSQL database that holds data for Manufacturing and R&D.

The problem this solved: reporting.

Originally, I wrote a custom program that queried the database and spat out reports in Word and Excel formats. It was a nightmare to maintain. Want a new template? Write more code. Did the database just get divided into separate schemas for Manufacturing and R&D? Alter source code. I used Pentaho's Metadata Editor to map the database to a set of virtual tables. My report templates (which are much easier to design graphically, even though Report Designer's mechanism for calculating values is rather awkward) query off the metadata, which means that I can make changes to the database itself and simply update the metadata rather than individually update a bunch of report templates. It was more work up front, but doing things this way has saved me *a lot* of time that I would otherwise spend packaging data into reports. This is not the sort of thing you would use for reports where the tests you run are highly tailored to a product being developed, and you need to write a detailed analysis of the project. This is for form reports (like pass/fail QC test reports) where you need something like a product code, a test result, and a red "fail" or green "pass" text color, or project reports where you run a set series of tests and are typically only changing the project name, customer/location, and about a paragraph of analysis.

I've used their ETL tool to batch import CSV files into databases, and it's reasonably straightforward. I do have the BI server set up, tested, and using PostgreSQL as a backend, but it's honestly just not something we use.

Who will do well with this stuff, if your business even needs a reporting solution: can you configure Tomcat, use a database, and muddle through tutorials? Are you reasonably good at teaching yourself new things? You'll probably be fine once you get the hang of it. (The documentation can be a little lacking.)

Who will not: in general, anyone who hasn't configured servers, used databases, or done a little ad-hoc programming is going to be completely lost. Are your coworkers trying to re-implement relational databases in Excel? They're going to have to be taught what any of this stuff even is before it begins to make sense to them.

Ever Herd of Windward? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42328313)

One of my programmer buddies told me that Windward is better than open source products. Does anyone know about their offerings?

Ugh! Is Microsoft is the best BI value? (4, Funny)

Invisible Now (525401) | about 2 years ago | (#42328495)

Dreaded Microsoft has SQL Server packages including SQL Server, SSIS ETL tools, SSAS OLAP and SSRS Reporting with licenses starting well under $2,000. Much better than Oracle's cobbled-together BI at a fraction of the price.

Hold your disgust and consider this fully functional, enterprise quality BI suite. Good support and good community, too.

For real BI, it's all about the views (2)

billybob_jcv (967047) | about 2 years ago | (#42328937)

The frontend analytics tools are cool and that's what the users will see and use - but the main thing missing in the opensource BI space are the deep library of views and templates for the big ERP systems like Oracle EBS/PeopleSoft/JDE/Fusion & SAP. I don't want to spend thousands of hours writing my own views and ETL routines just to create standard reports. If you are developing your own software and bundling Jaspersoft/Pentaho/etc as your reporting engine, fine - but if you are a corporate IT shop using a major ERP system, then I would rather buy one that didn't make me reinvent the wheel.

Re:For real BI, it's all about the views (1)

Forbman (794277) | about 2 years ago | (#42334403)

The problem with those, as anyone who has worked with those systems, is that the canned reports are quite generic. At best, for a decent-sized enterprise, they're starting points for the business report writers. Been there, done that, too many times. So, you either roll your own or customize what's there to fit the idiosyncrasies of your company's accounting and ways of doing business. NO company fits the Chart of Accounts exactly how it is set up in the default COA's of accounting systems. So there goes many of the canned reports out the door right there.

Using a major ERP system (e.g., SAP), you're not going to be reinventing the wheel, but hiring various levels of contractors and consultants to do it for you, or in the case of SAP, to customize your business and systems to fit SAP, as that is usually the path of lesser resistance, but still expensive.

Pentaho Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42329645)

Pentaho Support and Consultants suck. Would never use it for production environment. I used it in the last company I worked at. They sent consultants to design a soln and they billed a lot of hours without accomplishing a lot.

Dreaded Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42331393)

Heck, dreaded Microsoft even has Excel with PowerPivot for FREE. You can even use ODBC to connect the PowerPivot to a Hadoop cluster running on Azure.

NO.. Their sales team didn't even answer the phone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42332901)

If you want support for it ... good luck.

We were looking at Pentaho two years ago. Filled in the web form, called their number four times and every time I just got an answering machine.
Nobody ever called back.

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