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Joel on Software

Crystal Reports

An implementation of Crystal Reports ships with Visual Studio .NET Enterprise.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of using Crystal Reports in a Windows Forms application as opposed to say rolling our own reports as HTML and displaying them in the Internet Explorer control.

To be honest, I haven't heard a lot of good things about Crystal Reports in the past. I'm curious to know what people here think.


Friday, November 15, 2002

The benefits are WYSIWYG reporting, more versatlie layout options, and automatic report to PDF export.

Any report you make in Crystal will look exactly like you want it to no matter what computer you view it on. HTML on the other hand is driven by the fonts installed on a particular machine and the current user font size settings. Resolution plays a part also. If you try to print an HTML report that is wider than your screen it usually get's chopped off, also you are unable to easily programmatically set margins.

You can layout text and images in Crystal Reports in many more ways than HTML. Have you ever had browser text print downwards on the page? Also lining columns and rows up in HTML can be a major pain the designer in Crystal Reports is rather easy to use and get used to and makes layout tasks a breeze.

In Crystal Reports 9 you can export any report to PDF format with the click of a button on the viewer control.

I've used Crystal Reports in the past and while they still have some things to work on, such as their report designer (it's not as intuitive as Access), version 9 has made some major strides.

Justin Kolb
Friday, November 15, 2002

I tried the Crystal Reports included in .Net, and I've been veyr disapointed with it, for many reasons. You may look at Active Reports.Net (, wich is a real .Net reporting tool. It isn't big to distribute, and you program that like windows forms. That is, your report is a class, and the designer puts code in the auto-generated section. You can put your report class constructur, properties, etc. You really have the flexibility.

Etienne Charland
Monday, November 18, 2002

Justin > Any report you make in Crystal will look exactly like you want it to no matter what computer you view it on.

You'd think so, wouldn't you?  The problem is that it depends on the printer drivers installed on each computer.  A development computer may have the form print out perfectly, but a user's computer prints the spacing all wrong.

Another big problem with Crystal is that our reports print differently if we preview them first than they do if we just send them to the printer..... Does that make sense to anyone?

I would recommend active reports. Crystal is a great idea with so many quirks that you're bound to run into one that makes you spend quite a while developing a workaround (and getting very frustrated.)

Philip Rieck
Friday, November 22, 2002

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