Jason Weathersby, BIRT evanglist, just posted a blog entry giving some background for the need of reporting in the PHP world, and briefly mentions our plans for bringing the BIRT reporting system to PHP users.
The BIRT project is being led by Actuate, one of the leading Business Intelligence and Reporting companies, who have openly embraced open-source in the past year, and decided to create an open-source project in their field of endevour. The project includes both a run-time and a WYSIWYG drag&drop environment for easily building reports.
The main reason why I'm so excited about bringing this to PHP, is that like Jason stated, I've seen first hand that the majority of PHP applications have some kind of reporting needs, but a lot of time is spent on building reports and their queries from scratch. A few weeks ago I posted a COM/Excel PHP class on my blog. This class was used in order to create internal reports for our support system. We, like most PHP shops, didn't have a reporting tool at hand so we started with one general report, which became 5, then the reports became more complicated, we needed graphs, we needed more complex queries, and without knowing, we had a dedicated developer on these reports for a couple of months. I believe having reporting tools accessible to the PHP developer, will make a lot of lives easier, and will allow companies not to waste time on reinventing the wheel.
The only problem I see in adoption, assuming the technology is successfully brought to PHP in a simple PHP-spirited way, is in general the low awareness regarding reporting in the PHP space. However, this lack of awareness also exists in other communities, and I believe the availability of tools and best practices would increase awareness.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or feedback please drop me an email.