Attention marketing professionals: Sending cute toys along with press releases is a good way to get me to notice them. I received a package today from Actuate, which makes RIA and business intelligence tools. In addition to news about BIRT-based Actuate 10, which I’ll get to in a minute, the package contained a small Lego robotic space-man kit. I love Legos, and so does my 11-year-old son. He and I have spent countless hours constructing vehicles and small buildings with the small plastic geometric building blocks.

A half-dozen fully-constructed space ships and terrestrial vehicles currently adorn Nick’s bedroom, embarking frequently on voyages to the surrounding universe of our home. And since the kit has a nominal dollar value, I'm not required to return it by the rules of my employer. So tonight I’ll have the pleasure of giving Nick a space-man to assemble. The space-man will likely command an X-Wing Fighter, or perhaps the Mars rover-looking thing.

Actuate 10, the latest version of the company's flagship reporting tool is based on the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools, an early and now mature Eclipse project that was founded in 2004 by Actuate and the Eclipse Foundation. BIRT consists of an Eclipse-based report designer, charting engine and runtime, and is intended to allow developers to easily add reporting to Web applications. It's open source and works particularly well with Java.

I don't know too much ahead of the official announcement on Monday (Nov. 10), but I can tell you that new features will include Ajax-based report viewing that is customizable by the end-user, content and external app integration and mash-up capabilities through a new JavaScript API, Flash-based charts and widgets and page-level security.