Results reporting is one of the key stages in the testing phase where the interested project participants or the stakeholders are presented with information on the test progress. Although many of the test automation tools have inbuilt reporting capability, the information may either be too low-level or technical, or it may not be fully relevant for management. As part of test process improvement, I’m working on a requirement to present the test results in an efficient way, so the management can visualise the current status of testing or the overall status for a test cycle, and make decisions accordingly.
BIRT architecture has two main components – report designer and a runtime component. The latter facilitates the design’s deployment on to an application server such as Apache Tomcat. An additional chart engine component exists for integrating charts into the application (I haven’t still explored this feature yet). For proof of concept, I have downloaded Eclipse Mars 4.5 that comes with BIRT designer. If you have already installed Eclipse, you can download the BIRT plugin. Depending on your data visualization needs, you can either design a report with the sample templates or start with a blank page and add items from the palette in the designer via drag and drop. Also, you can create a library for reusable custom templates.
There are different packages available to download BIRT runtime. I chose to download the BIRT sample viewer WAR file from the BIRT site and deploy it on the Tomcat server. The sample viewer adds web-based viewing capability for BIRT designs, which means it takes care of basic functionality such as a table of contents, pagination, exporting the results to PDF and so on. If you wish to enhance the existing viewer, you can download a suitable runtime package. Since I’m working on a very basic requirement, I have added sample viewer to my Tomcat server and copied my report design to the Tomcat’s webapps directory. Once the Tomcat server is restarted, the report can be accessed via a browser. These are a few initial basic steps, and many features of the product can be leveraged based on the requirement.
BIRT reporting can be very useful, especially in continuous integration scenarios such as when multiple regression test packs have to be run before releasing the software to next level. It enables the management team to make informed decisions quickly based on the current test status. However, BIRT is not just limited to reporting, it can also be utilised across various SDLC phases where data visualisation is vital.