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Joel on Software

ASP.NET Reporting...

I'm trying to get a feeling for the various reporting options open to me for ASP.NET.

I've used office (particularly Excel) automation extensively in the past for Windows apps and that's worked well for my clients, yet I believe server-side automation in ASP.NET is NOT the way to go.

Has anybody here been in the same situation and found a satisfactory solution? I've been looking at Aspose.Report - http://www.aspose.com/Products/Aspose.Report/ especially, and wondered if anyone has tried it and has any feedback they would like to share.

Any feedback, especially recommendations would be very gratefully received...

Peter
Monday, December 13, 2004

If you like Excel, then I recommend looking at the XML schema for Office, so that you can generate XML files that Excel can open directly.

You need the latest version of Excel on the client, but that shouldn't be a problem in most corporate environments.

This approach saves you having to install Office on the server, you just create an XML file, which automagically gets opened by Excel.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=fe118952-3547-420a-a412-00a2662442d9&displaylang=en

Nemesis [µISV]
Monday, December 13, 2004

Nemesis,

Thanks for that... It's something I'd already considered, but all clients here are on Office 2000, and it doesn't look like there's a demand to upgrade any time soon. From an end-user's perspective I can understand why.

That leaves me back at square one... any suggestions?

Peter
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"From an end-user's perspective I can understand why."

I'm curious what you mean by this?
There are a lot of advanced options available in Excel 2003 from a programmability perspective, not the least of which is the ability to read and write XML.

Anyway, if the back end is SQL Server, or they are open to the idea of a reporting server, check out SQL Reporting services - you can design the reports in Visual Studio and render them in Excel format. Reporting Services are a free add-on, so if you have SQL Server available you can try it out for free and decide if it suits your needs.

Philo

Philo [MSFT]
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Thanks Philo for your comments...

I didn't mean to offend, but what I meant was that if I were to try to convice people around here that they should upgrade from Office 2000 to 2003 so they would get all this 'extra XML functionality', I wouldn't get very far.

All people are interested in is spreadsheet functionality, which it's been said here many times before, is generally perceived as the ability to make lists quickly. As far as I know, (and please correct me if I'm worng), but the latest version of excel doesn't make lists any prettier, longer or faster than 2000. Life with Office 2003 would make MY day easier, but I'm a very small part of the organisation, and THAT'S the mentality I can just about understand.

Reporting services won't work for me as I'm not working with SQL Server 2000. Keep the suggestions coming please...

Peter
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"I didn't mean to offend, but what I meant was that if I were to try to convice people around here that they should upgrade from Office 2000 to 2003 so they would get all this 'extra XML functionality', I wouldn't get very far."

No offense taken; I just wanted to understand the problem to see if there were any way I could help. :-)

If SQL Reporting Services aren't an option, then my next choice is ActiveReports, which I worked with heavily for two years. I know they render to RTF, HTML, and PDF - I'm pretty sure they render to XLS.

Philo

Philo [MSFT]
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Just to be clear, you don't need to be reporting on SQL Server data to use sql reporting services. It requires a sql box to hold the report server database and catalogs, but it can report against any odbc/oledb datasource, and can write out to excel, xml, pdf, etc. Works great.

But, while it is "free", you will need a sql server box/license, and a .net server, which isn't free. Still, the implementation/maintenance costs are much cheaper than Crystal, and it is a very flexible tool.

Greg Maass
Wednesday, December 22, 2004

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