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Reporting options for a web based software

Hi all,
I am developing a database driven web based application. It will be used in an ASP business model. I am looking for some examples to build the reporting options. Any suggestions, both design and technology wise? I need some online examples to get some idea. Any pointers? Thanks for the inputs.

Anon
Sunday, November 09, 2003

What's your backend tech?

Philo

Philo
Sunday, November 09, 2003

SQL Server 2000.
I am more interested in design ideas, like should the results of the report be in html format or pdf or word/excel etc. I know it will vary from situation to situation. But I just want to know about some examples. Thanks

Anon
Monday, November 10, 2003

And Philo, you are up pretty late for a Sunday night :)
Well, good for me though.

Anon
Monday, November 10, 2003

Depending on your timeline, MS has a reporting engine for SQL Server coming out soon. (Well, "real soon now" in MSese - YMMV).

The question is - what do your users want/need? HTML, PDF, Word, and Excel are all viable forms of reporting. You can also extract XML directly from SQL Server and either deliver it directly or XSLify it into just about anything.

Stay away from Crystal Reports, of course...

Philo

Philo
Monday, November 10, 2003

Crystal Reports.... *shudders* ... *shudders again*

Jack of all
Monday, November 10, 2003

I liked Crystal Reports before they offered Enterprise Solutions.

John Ridout
Monday, November 10, 2003

About the format of reports.

HTML is good if you don't have control over the clients used to access reports. HTML can be viewed from PCs, terminals, pdas, mobile phones etc.

But if the reports are meant to be printed HTML can turn into a bad headache. Mainly because controlling page breaks in HTML is such a PITA. If page breaks are not an issue, you can get pretty far with basic HTML and css.

I wouldn't recommend using a proprietary format like Word or Excel unless you can be 100% sure you know your client architecture (a suitable version of MS Office installed.) The same of course goes for all proprietary formats. I'd imagine PDF to be acceptable in most cases since Reader is available to most common architectures.

Juha
Monday, November 10, 2003

What's wrong with Crystal Reports?  That's what we're using at work, and I'm supposed to go to training in a couple weeks for Crystal Reports 9.0...  Is there something I should be aware of?

nathan
Monday, November 10, 2003

I don't have control over the client machines and won't be good to restrict them. So HTML looks like a good option. But users do print out these reports a lot. So I probably have to support all the formats.
Philo, are you talking about SQL Server 2000 reporting services? http://www.microsoft.com/sql/reporting/default.asp

I just heard about them. Will look into it more. Thank you for all your help so far guys. Is there any links where I can look at how different types of reporting are done? Any examples of ASP (Application Service Provider) based applications?

Anon
Monday, November 10, 2003

Deliver the report data as XML.  Give the client options to display as HTML or PDF (Use XSL to get there).  If you require the ability to drill into the report deliver as HTML with a link to a printable PDF view on every display page.  Lastly allow users to take the XML directly so they can import into Excel or OpenOfiice or whatever their heart desires.

K
Monday, November 10, 2003

XML??? I can just see Joe Marketing having a field day with XML. If they want the data for doing their own massaging, why not comma separated values?

m
Monday, November 10, 2003

Thanks for all your suggestions so far. XML sounds good but we haven't used it with our application so far and I don't know if I want to get into one more technology. However my main concern is about the UI design of the report. Like what way the data should be presented? tabular? graphical? both? How the drill down should be handled etc. We have extesive set of reports now. But I want to explore some new ways to do them. I would like to see some examples on how others with ASP model do. If you have some links, please do post them. Thank you.

Anon
Monday, November 10, 2003

Because you can't XSL CSV into PDF, HTML, Excel, Word, etc... 

Philo

Philo
Monday, November 10, 2003

Philo, but end users would not know how to do this anyway. I thought we were talking about delivery methods.

m
Monday, November 10, 2003

Check out MicroStrategy Web at http://www.microstrategy.com/Software/Products/Web/

It can generate DHTML reports as well as Excel and PDF exports.

Miguel Barrientos
Monday, November 10, 2003

"Like what way the data should be presented? tabular? graphical? both?"

Ask the users?

"How the drill down should be handled etc."

Well, for example:
First report shows a summary as tabular data. Each row/record is a link to a second report showing detailed data based the same criteria the summary was created with.

Juha
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Yes, we have asked the users and we will be asking them more. I have a good idea what needs to be done. I just wanted to see some online samples on how different systems have implemented this. Thanks for all your inputs so far.

Anon
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Uh, Anon - you're *really* losing out by not putting an email address in. I suspect there may be some people willing to help you, but they don't want to put links to their site on an open forum.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Oops...sorry about that people. Was just using default handle.
Thanks for pointing this out Philo. Didn't think about it.

Anon
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

What's the matter with Crystal Reports? I'm planning on using Visual Studio .NET and since it comes with Crystal Reports, I'm considering taking a look at it.

What are the issues?

Fernando Correia
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

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