2008-08-12-reporting-tools-for-microsoft-net

Reporting tools for Microsoft .NET

I've had the good fortune lately to review all of the available reporting software for the Microsoft .NET Framework.  A client of mine is undertaking a rewrite of their enterprise software with about 80% of the work in desktop development and the remaining 20% in web development.  Such an undertaking, and because of the length of the project, requires careful review of what's available today and what's going to be maintainable tomorrow.  What follows is a quick review of my impressions:

1)  DevExpress XtraReports:  For a relative newcomer to this space, this is a surprisingly mature tool.  Integration with all of the IDE's, including Express Editions, is supported.  Plenty of data source and data exchange support.  Great price.

2)  Telerik Reporting:  Uses it's own paging and rendering for browser printing.  Report converter available if migrating from other third party tools, but no report converter for MS Access.  Very high price per developer seat.  Also, given my past experience with Telerik controls and some testing, Telerik controls are something that must studied and learned.  There is no such thing as Rapid Application Development when it comes to using Telerik.

3)  Crystal Reports:  Can be considered free if you already own Visual Studio Standard or Professional.  Parameterization can be a pain if reports are embedded in their own DLL.  Abundance of books and web sites available for picking up tips and tricks.  If deploying to a web server with high concurrency, may need to purchase server version, since VS version only supports triple concurrency.  Subsequent requests are queued.

4)  XML with XSL-FO:  There are a number of formatting engines available today, but most were built for Apache, and do not come cheap.  The visual designers available today just do not support advanced topics such as multicolumn layouts.  Overall, this technology has the brightest future but as of today, suffers from first generation toolset capabilities.

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