BIRT is a powerful, open source, Eclipse-based reporting system. Similar to Crystal Reports (except easier to use), BIRT permits you to design reports in a GUI (Eclipse) environment and deliver them via an available "Engine".
That said, proficiency in BIRT report design is an acquired skill. Also, embedding the report engine in your web-based applications is not always trivial, especially if you need to address issues like scheduling, job management, distribution, security and access control.
While BIRT has the ability to create PDF and XLS, out of the box there is no access control (security), no job management (background queuing, prioritization, etc.) and limited options for integrating into existing applications.
I have broad experience creating customized BIRT solutions, including addressing all of the afformentioned challenges. I've integrating the BIRT engine into multiple applications and I also have experience deploying Actuate's commercial iServer engine. I've developed many BIRT reports, including enhancement of reports with embedded event scripting and calls to Java code, and I've extended the BIRT framework by developing custom Report Items.
If you want a BIRT expert who can help you leverage the power of the BIRT reporting framework at a fraction of the cost of Crystal Reports, please contact Practical Apps.