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SSRS is the bomb for you. And from a simple report you can export to Excel so people can 'play' with the report. It works. Butttttt...... It really takes someone who understands databases and being able to setup and get it working right. This means usually a programmer/DB Analyst. Probably you.
with that said. If your end users want to do more than just 'play' with the data. If they want to create their own visuals you probably need to research PowerBI (Microsoft) or Tableau. I have worked extensively with both. I prefer Tableau. Mainly because I am more familiar with it. But they both have their good and bad points. They are both fairly expensive.
as always ymmv. But that is my .02
To err is human to really elephant it up you need a computer
I've never heard of anyone loving a report generation tool.
As he noted, I made his life very easy. We don't need not stinkin' crystal reports.
It is corporate-agnostic. It'll work for insurance claims or pizza orders. The generating their own reports is (via the input fields) by creating SQL filters on-the-fly. Also, line, bar, and pie charts - but as it turns out, no one wanted them once they became available.
I've been using FastReport VCL (Delphi) forever.
I like that the reports are in XML, we were able to transform a ton of reports simply.
It has a Client Side Report Designer, if needed (We have shipped it a couple of times).
It has a server based solution as well...
And of course, there is the .NET version, which I assume you are interested in.
We have also leveraged the SCRIPTING language to get some VERY custom reports, and cause report page links to open records in our application!! Kinda cool features, IMO.
I've mostly worked with CR and unlike everyone else here, actually like it. For newer projects, we've been using DevExpress. It's a little pricey but it's easy to work with, has tons of documentation, and tons of options. We use their pivotgrid control for ad hoc reporting and it works great. You get what you pay for.
Unfortunately, you also get bloat/dependency from using third-party tools.
"Go forth into the source" - Neal Morse
"Hope is contagious"
For some reason people love to knock Crystal Reports and I used to be one of them ( way back ) , but if you spend some time learning it you can create very complex and powerful reports, if you're after sexy looking reports maybe look elsewhere but for informative down to the metal reports I think it's very good. It supports the usual while / do / for loops, arrays ( albeit one dimensional ) so the limit is your imagination. As for integration with dotnet I don't know what is available these days.
"I didn't mention the bats - he'd see them soon enough" - Hunter S Thompson - RIP
We use CRW (Crystal Report Writer) for our Windows desktop application. We use it 3 different ways:
1) have our own UI for parameters that are passed to the RPT file
2) run a RPT file directly, only passing in the connection string.
3) generate data external to the RPT file, then pass in the dataset to the RPT.
Either way, we have a common dialog for displaying the results that all 3 methods use.
We also provide a custom reports option. A user can use CRW to create any custom report they want, drop the RPT into a specific folder, and the program will show its name in a drop-down list for them to run it. However, 100% of the time they pay us to do the custom report for them.
I like CRW because of it's ease of use for beginners, yet powerful enough for whatever I want to do.
Keep all things as simple as possible, but no simpler. -said someone, somewhere
We've built multiple dashboards in Metabase and love the a) ease with which users can create simple queries, and b) how a good SQL writer can make complex queries with lots of joins and unions and c) how it turns the results into graphs and pivots.
Still kicking - just busy busy. It was a long 2020.
Wow, 17 years, I have to think who I was working for that far back. I was transitioning from server/mainframe development - openVMS and straight C - to the Windows desktop. Interestingly, that was the last time I was doing DB application development. The company loved their flat files. Ugh.
<italic>Stuck in a dysfunctional matrix from which I must escape...
"Where liberty dwells, there is my country." B. Franklin, 1783
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” BF, 1759
While things come back round, you'll find user expectations are way different.
Everybody has an iPad or some touch device and wants instant touch and play on the reports.
We've moved to Power BI (at great cost) and people love it.
MS is putting a lot of effort behind it, and the desktop version is free if you just want to see what's possible.
If you know excel, you can create a report simply (if the devs setup certified data sets or similar, or you have access to do so).
You'll want the 'application owns the data' integration (MS website will lead you down P1 (£5k/month min) where you end up with all your customers on active directory)... However, you can just use an A1 (£700/month) under this method:
<a href="https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/developer/embedded/embed-sample-for-your-organization">Embed content in your Power BI embedded analytics application enabling better embedded BI insights for your organization - Power BI | Microsoft Docs</a>[<a href="https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/developer/embedded/embed-sample-for-your-organization" target="_blank" title="New Window">^</a>]
You can start with no cost, see what's possible.
The user interface is great.
What you can't do....
If you want a report of an 'invoice', this is not the tool for that. Then you're back at SSRS type reports in Power BI (also back to £5l/month min!)
If you wanted an interactive report of say, all your stock, how it's sold over time and filter it by whatever you want, then this is the tool.
If you want, it is possible to have a subset of user's with full power bi access... they can then create their own dashboards from all / any part of your reports. You can then make that available in your application.
So there is a sliding scale of how much you use it.
To anybody who's making simple spreadsheets and then wants some charts... go download power bi desktop for free and click 'get data' and choose your excel sheet... make a nice chart etc. and then you can update the sheet and the report updates too!
Given that, if the reports are for INTERNAL use only (not customers) you can, actually use power bi with no cost, I know of one huge organisation that's doing that.. and we're like great, but if you want all these 1000's of user's to access it, it's going to cost you... so the MS grand plan to take your money works in the end!
My experience of any report generator over the past 40ish years is to forget them. from a programming side they are hard and time consuming to write & document, and come up with anything that an end user can learn or use easily, (and most dont want to have to learn anything new anyway). I now take one of two methods when my systems don't give a user exactly what then want or they have a 'special' requirement. firstly i offer a service to write the report for them as an add-on or integrated option to an existing format and try to keep the price down, and secondly (and more popular) is to write a csv output dumping all the data they need, whereby they can use excel to re-jig it as they want, as most companies have people familiar with it. a lesser used option is for people to do it themselves either in sql server or access for example and i will assist in explaining schema's, but that's very few. I also dont like to use 3rd party add-ons as you not only have to learn and support them, which can be time consuming for little reward, but give you a great deal of pain updating, maintaining licences or whatever. GL