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Reporting Software

I know this has been discussed here before but the topic has dropped off the bottom already. I need opinions on reporting software, specifically with software that allows online report display similar to Crystal Reports (it has a server process that can run on or separate from a web server and a web viewer control, both COM and .NET versions).

Crystal Reports is doing all I need but designing a report that looks the way I want is an exercise in futility. A report that looks good in the report designer has chopped off fonts in the web viewer (vertically chopped off not horizontally). All they have to say on the matter are two PDFs on the subject of why it's the printer driver's fault and not theirs. I have used Access reports for many years and have never ever had any problems like this even printing to different printers with different drivers. My reports would always look like how I designed them, I don't know if it's possible (and easy) to display them on a web site.

The system I need has to have the abilities of Crystal Reports server and view control without all the display problems. I need to be able to embed SQL complex commands into the report, the Crystal Reports command is like a stored procedure in SQL server but allows you to put Crystal parameters into it which allows for alot of flexibility. Also the commands seem to allow full database functionality in them, due to the complexity of the queries I have I use SQL Server user-defined functions with parameters in the FROM clause of my queries and Crystal allows this. The ability to put Crystal parameters in the query allows me to put one parameter at the end of the query after the FROM clause and if I send "" to the parameter the query runs wide open but if I send " WHERE x=1" the query runs with that WHERE clause.

As for the report designer side I would like it to be as close to Access as possible. Important features include double clicking on the side of a text control to automatically size it to the correct size for the font, a grid snap that doesn't suck and constantly unsnap controls. And one that doesn't seem to have 3 different displays of a report depending on where you view it (report designer, web viewer, printed copy). Being able to drag a control all the way to the right of the report without it snapping off the report or one grid away from the edge would be nice, and need to be able to easily move and resize multiple fields (this is not easy at all in Crystal). If you have ever designed reports in any version of Access you should know what I'm talking about it is the best reporting system available it's just trapped inside a desktop app. If only MS would release the reporting side of Access for VS.NET.

Another requirement is that it's not too pricey. This is a small (non tech) company and the price of Crystal was about in the sweet spot (~$2000-$3000).

Justin K.
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Check out ActiveReports over at www.datadynamics.com

Marc
Thursday, July 03, 2003

OK that looks promising, could anyone expound about how a web application works using this system and the licensing involved. For example Crystal Reports has a full server process that handles requests from ASP or ASPX pages. The basic version will process 10 concurrent requests at a time with the 11th+ requests being dropped. The advanced version will queue the extra requests until one of the 10 connections is available.

Reading the ActiveReports web site does not say anything about a server process (this could be a good thing) or if there are any limits on connections, etc. Does your web app do all the work?

Justin K.
Thursday, July 03, 2003

A problem with ActiveReports is that it is not a stand alone product, it requires VS.NET (which I do not have). Any comments on the report designer? A comparison with Access would be nice. Also any possiblity of having programmaticly controlled report grouping using this sytem?

Justin K.
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Justin, I'm using ActiveReports to serve up Invoices as PDF's on a live application. We've got hundreds of users and we've never caught the CPU above 10% on the web server.

I feel comfortable saying that I can do *anything* with ActiveReports. They also support one of the charting components now, so you can add charts to your reports.

I have *not* used the ad-hoc reports designer, so I can't comment on that.

ActiveReports.Net is, obviously, .Net based, but they still have ActiveReports 2.0 (I don't know what languages it supports)

The evaluation is free and fully functional.

Drop me a line if you have any other questions.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Talking with my non-work hat on...  ;-)

For your Crystal Reports problems you don't mention what version or which viewer you are using but I had a quick look through the knowledge base and turned up this:- http://support.crystaldecisions.com/library/kbase/articles/c2012801.asp  Have you tried applying the latest monthly hotfix?  Have you tried the other web viewers?  It sounds like you've already decided to move on to another reporting package, but I thought I'd try to help anyway.

r1ch
Thursday, July 03, 2003

That acutally is helpful, I guess I'm not that good a searching although their site is kind of weird. Instead of giving you a link they always tell you to go to a long URL (not linked) and then search for another word. You end up having to cut and pasting the link and then cut and pasting the word/file name. Well you have at least giving me some hope with Crystal I'll just have to try harder to find things on their site.

Thanks!

Justin K.
Thursday, July 03, 2003

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