Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Reporting Engine for Java Web App?

I know, I know, I should keep my questions to bigger issues than specific technical points. But amongst the "Why would you want to do that?" responses I usually get some spot-on answers in this forum...

So, I need to add a nice reporting engine to a Java web app that uses Tomcat, Struts, MySQL, etc. My cursory googling has turned up Jasper Report Engine. It seems okay, but does anyone have any real experience on which to base an opinion of it?

Any other suggestions for a good (and free) reporting engine for use with a Java web application?

Herr Herr
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Jasper is supposed to be quite good, though I haven't used it myself.  Crystal Reports is also apparently used quite a bit in the Java community, so if you've got the budget for that, it may be the way to go.  (The company's just renamed themselves "Business Objects" -- what a useless name.  Almost as bad as "Monday.")

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

As for Crystal Reports aka Business Objects, no matter what you call it it's still crap.

If you like designing reports in XML by hand then Jasper Reports is for you. Last time I checked the report designer app  required probably about as much work to layout a report as to just type the XML yourself anyway.

Anyway I wouldn't move forward on this without demoing a few and seeing a little bit of their strengths and weaknesses. I'm sure a search on Google should turn up some a few more commercial product names (since I've did that search a while back) although I don't remember them since I didn't end up using Java for reporting.

If you can find something for Java that can do what can be done in ActiveReports (from DataDynamics) then I would buy it in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

This is probably at a lower level than what you were asking for, but....


Never used the product myself, so I can't recommend it. 

I use their charting library (jfreechart) and am very happy with it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Business Objects has been around for a while.  They are based in Paris I believe.  They recently bought Crystal, hopefully to kill it off.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Well, since the burden of proof is on the accuser...why is Crystal Reports crap? (Justin and mike)

Is it because you had a problem with it once and you couldn't figure it out? What was the problem?

I'm just asking because I've been using Crystal Reports since being a newbie programmer and I've found it quite easy to deal with.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Whoa now - I never said anything derogatory about Crystal.  I just hope they disappear - the fact that my company puts out a similar product may be influencing me though.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

If you have a SQL Server lying around (odds are slim, I know), try out Reporting Services. If you're going to do a comparison anyway... :-)

(I know a Sybase/Java shop that evaluated Reporting Services and decided to put in a dedicated SQL Reporting Server)


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

We have been using the Apache XSL:FO implementation quite successfully.  Using some generic CSS will cut down the effort involved.

S J Cosgrove
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

First of is Crystal's Report designer. I'm very meticulous about lining up fields, especially on this one large report I did based off the OSHA 300 report.

The snap to grid function does not work period. This is most evident when you position lets say 5 fields butted up against each other with borders around them, whoops scrap that, borders around text fields do not work that great either. I mean text fields with separate rectangles around them to take the place of the crap borders. Then you move these 5 fields (and their corresponding rectangles) to another part of the report because something has changed. At least one (though usually more) of the fields is now slightly overlapping one of the other fields, requiring you to indiviually move them all again to get them to resnap to the grid making them now look correct again. If you download the Excel file example of the OSHA 300 Log report from their web site you'd see how this would get to be a problem.

As for the borders around text fields, the reason they do not work is because they stick outside the bounds of the text field making it impossible to but up text fields next to each other without overlap.

Then there is the programmming API from hell. Convoluted and entirely too complicated, requiring much to much work to do simple things.

Their tech support web site has the annoying habit of referring you to another page in their site without linking! You have to cut and paste a link to get to the referred to site. You are also very lucky to find useful information on their support site.

There was also the fact that between version 7 and 8 or 8 and 9 of Crystal Enterprise Standard (I've forgotten now) they completely changed the licensing model so that the license you paid for originally became complete crap (a developers license only down from a 5 user at a time license) after the upgrade, but you didn't want to go back to the old version because it sucked even worse that the newer one.

I'm sure I could come up with plenty more but  those are what stick out in my head, plus I'm trying to forget the hours lost on that nightmare. I had some dealing with Crystal Reports also when VB4 was the in thing and I was suprised at how little they had improved things during the umpteen versions since I'd last used it.

Anyway the best report designer I've ever used is locked into Microsoft Access, if Microsoft ever put that into a standalone product they'd be rich.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

+1 for SQL Server Reporting Services. Awesome product.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Think very long and hard before commiting to using the Crystal Reports Java API.

Unfortunately I'm not in a position to elaborate on that further, except just to say that I'm very familiar with the product and I sincerely wish that I wasn't.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Have you considered using Apache POI to create Excel Spreadsheets?  It's an extremely flexible API & just about the most configurable 'reports' you can imagine.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

OP here

Thanks all for the insightful responses.

Koz, the idea of using POI sounds nice. I am already using POI in the project and it might be enough for what I need.


Herr Herr
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Try the combination of JasperReports and JasperAssistant. It may pleasantly surprise you. JasperAssistant can be found at:

Thursday, July 22, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home