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E.Spreadsheet Is Excel-lent

Actuate's e.Spreadsheet is a comprehensive reporting solution that comprises its flagship Actuate iServer enterprise reporting server, the e.Spreadsheet add-on to iServer and the e.Spreadsheet Designer. The Designer, which is the client portion of the product, allows for integration of data from disparate sources in the enterprise into a single Excel spreadsheet, which is then served to users via the Web or as an e-mail attachment.

Unlike the spreadsheets served up by many reporting products, those generated by e.Spreadsheet are genuine Excel spreadsheets, complete with charts tied to the data as opposed to the typical static image files embedded in the charts. The user can manipulate the spreadsheets and save them locally, making them useful for presentations, forecasting and what-if scenarios.

The product is pricey: The iServer with the e.Spreadsheet option is $35,000 per CPU (or $495 per named user), and the e.Spreadsheet Designer is $495 per user. If you want to reduce the time business analysts spend reformatting reports, or if you'd like to offer power users the capability to design their own reports, the product will likely pay for itself in a short time.

The Widget Business

I installed a beta version of Actuate's iServer with e.Spreadsheet on a server in our NWC Inc. business applications lab. I deployed the included JSP (JavaServer Page)-based Active Portal to provide a Web presence for users to access reports, though e.Spreadsheet will also integrate into popular application servers such as IBM's WebSphere and BEA Systems' WebLogic. The administrative console is entirely Web-based and offers corporate-class features, such as user management, clustering and priority-based job scheduling.

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