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Opinion needed: Crystal Reports vs. anything else vs. One's own implementation

LP
Hi,
I will be taking on a new project developing a web-based "reporting system".
The first requirement I got from BI group is "we just want to look at the
data". Basically, there is a huge database, and they want certain people to
be able to drill down to the data they want, perhaps a few graphs here and
there, and then extract selected data to an Excel file or a flat file for
further analysis. As of now there are a handful of parameters that they want
to filter on.
My question is for something straight forward as this, is it worth going
into Crystal or any other reporting tool? I never had a good experience with
Crystal; and their export to Excel option in .NET version renders an excel
file useless for any further data analysis (it does bunch of cell merges and
who knows what else). Is there any other reporting tool easy to use and
program against that can accomplish these requirements (especially export to
Excel feature). Or should I just develop my own web application with
DataGrids and some charting components? I would really appreciate to hear
your opinions.
Thank you in advance.
Nov 16 '05 #1
14 2198
"LP" <lp@a.com> wrote in news:#8******** ******@TK2MSFTN GP14.phx.gbl:
My question is for something straight forward as this, is it worth
going into Crystal or any other reporting tool? I never had a good
experience with Crystal;


Biggest problem with crystal is that reports are limited to ~50,000
database rows. Any queries that return > 50,000 rows will kill IIS +
Crystal.

To get around this limitation, you'll have to do all your calculations on
the server end and return a nicely formatted result set. This may or may
not be a good solution depending on how beefy your SQL server is.

--
Lucas Tam (RE********@rog ers.com)
Please delete "REMOVE" from the e-mail address when replying.
http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/coolspot18/
Nov 16 '05 #2
Make sure you read the RS newsgroups before making the jump. From what I've
been reading, RS has more than its fair share of problems exporting to
Excel. Remember, it's a 1.0 product and it usually takes MS a few releases
before they have something stable and feature complete.

"Scott Allen" <sc***@nospam.o detocode.com> wrote in message
news:h5******** *************** *********@4ax.c om...

Do you have a SQL Server license? If so, you should get SQL Server
Reporting Services a try as you'll have a license for it also. As far
as Reporting Tools go - it's not too bad.
http://www.microsoft.com/sql/reporting/default.asp

--
Scott
http://www.OdeToCode.com/blogs/scott/

On Sun, 13 Feb 2005 22:40:50 -0500, "LP" <lp@a.com> wrote:
Hi,
I will be taking on a new project developing a web-based "reporting system".The first requirement I got from BI group is "we just want to look at the
data". Basically, there is a huge database, and they want certain people tobe able to drill down to the data they want, perhaps a few graphs here andthere, and then extract selected data to an Excel file or a flat file for
further analysis. As of now there are a handful of parameters that they wantto filter on.
My question is for something straight forward as this, is it worth going
into Crystal or any other reporting tool? I never had a good experience withCrystal; and their export to Excel option in .NET version renders an excelfile useless for any further data analysis (it does bunch of cell merges andwho knows what else). Is there any other reporting tool easy to use and
program against that can accomplish these requirements (especially export toExcel feature). Or should I just develop my own web application with
DataGrids and some charting components? I would really appreciate to hear
your opinions.
Thank you in advance.

Nov 16 '05 #3
I agree that Crystal sounds like overkill for your requirements.
Why not cut to the chase and export directly to Excel?

Here are some examples:
http://SteveOrr.net/Articles/ExcelExport.aspx
http://SteveOrr.net/Articles/ExportPanel.aspx
http://SteveOrr.net/export.aspx

--
I hope this helps,
Steve C. Orr, MCSD, MVP
http://SteveOrr.net
"LP" <lp@a.com> wrote in message
news:%2******** ********@TK2MSF TNGP14.phx.gbl. ..
Hi,
I will be taking on a new project developing a web-based "reporting
system".
The first requirement I got from BI group is "we just want to look at the
data". Basically, there is a huge database, and they want certain people
to
be able to drill down to the data they want, perhaps a few graphs here and
there, and then extract selected data to an Excel file or a flat file for
further analysis. As of now there are a handful of parameters that they
want
to filter on.
My question is for something straight forward as this, is it worth going
into Crystal or any other reporting tool? I never had a good experience
with
Crystal; and their export to Excel option in .NET version renders an excel
file useless for any further data analysis (it does bunch of cell merges
and
who knows what else). Is there any other reporting tool easy to use and
program against that can accomplish these requirements (especially export
to
Excel feature). Or should I just develop my own web application with
DataGrids and some charting components? I would really appreciate to hear
your opinions.
Thank you in advance.

Nov 16 '05 #4
LP
>Any queries that return > 50,000 rows will kill IIS +
Crystal.

that's really good to know. I can see them wanting to export all data for
1st quater which is about that record count.
As far as MS Reporting services from what I saw it is truely is MS version 1
product.
I am leaning towards just developing straight forward web application and my
own export to Excel functionality.
Thank you all!
Nov 16 '05 #5
MS Reporting Services allows the user to dynamically drill down on related
data and create simple graphs, etc. It would take a great deal of effort to
duplicate that functionality on your own. I would reccomend using RS for ad
hoc decision support queries, and then parallel to that could be some more
presentation quality reports that you implement yourself using Crystal or
ASP.

"LP" <lp@a.com> wrote in message
news:OI******** ******@TK2MSFTN GP10.phx.gbl...
Any queries that return > 50,000 rows will kill IIS +
Crystal.

that's really good to know. I can see them wanting to export all data for
1st quater which is about that record count.
As far as MS Reporting services from what I saw it is truely is MS version

1 product.
I am leaning towards just developing straight forward web application and my own export to Excel functionality.
Thank you all!

Nov 16 '05 #6
rk
The biggest issue with Crystal running on a server is that the crystal
components keep leaking memory and it leaves the server crawling after
some time (at least that's what we have encountered on our server). It
is alright with a client-server app where crystal is running on the
client side in which case the memory gets released as soon as the
client app exits.

Apart from that there are issues with deploying it - it works on some
systems and fails with some license issue on others (I have also posted
this issue and of course, there was no response). There are numerous
posts regarding this issue and its resolution but one thing is clear
that there is no clear cut resolution to that.

Given the lack of support on Crystal I would advise for a home grown
system or RS (I am sure it will only improve with time).

--rk

Nov 16 '05 #7
The thing that makes Crystal Reports confusing is that there are sooo many
versions of it out there and you never know which version someone is talking
about in these posts.

Here is my take on things: CR.NET is considered an upsell product. Thus, you
get it free in the box with the hopes that you'll upgrade. Given that, the
retail versions are much better. The latest version of Crystal, XI, has many
upgrades and bug fixes and the report processing performance has been
improved and has better exporting. All around it's a much better product.
Unfortunately, CR.NET 2003 isn't such a hot product and continues to give CR
a bad name. Of course, CR isn't perfect - no question about that. But
without a doubt the latest version XI is a big step forward. Plus, they have
it available as a free 30 day download on their site.

The problem I have with RS is that it is a 1.0 product and it has a lot of
problems, but people recommend it like it's reporting nirvana. I've yet to
use a MS 1.0 product and have it run without a hitch (or any company's
product for that matter). Reporting Services is great if you want to do
simple reports and are willing to do lots of manual coding to fill in the
gaps that MS left out. I see people on the newsgroups saying, "RS is great!
You need to try it out. I got my reports to run in no time." Everything is
great when you run a few wizards. But then when you dig a little deeper into
the feature set you see questions like, "Hey, I want to do X and it won't do
it. Why not?"; "Why do my Excel/PDF exports keep getting screwed up?"; "Why
is SQL Server performance so slow now?"; "How do I make it read from a
DataSet?" and "Why does it cost $20K to support ASP.NET Forms
Authentication? " There are usually three common answers to these questions:
1) Write your own custom extensions, 2) Rewrite your stored procedures to do
all the work RS won't do, and 3) Wait for a future version. Let's hope your
customers are patient while you do all this extra coding or wait till it
gets fixed in a future version. Plus, if you plan on doing any heavy
reporting with it then you need to put it on a separate server ($5K license)
or else your SQL box will get hammered b/c it is resource intensive. It's
only free for companies that don't have much SQL activity.

All in all, I think RS definitely makes a lot of aspects of writing reports
easier. In fact, the Table object is pretty damn stellar and nothing else
compares to it. RS is a great tool that can crank out a lot of reports very
fast. But it's a 1.0 product that is still missing a lot of features. I've
seen NG posts from people saying, "I convinced my manager/client to go with
RS and now it doesn't do the things I assumed would work. Someone help!" The
answer is "it will be fixed in a future release". RS still needs a few more
versions under its belt before it can be recommended carte blanche to
everyone.
"rk" <kr*****@hotmai l.com> wrote in message
news:11******** **************@ g14g2000cwa.goo glegroups.com.. .
The biggest issue with Crystal running on a server is that the crystal
components keep leaking memory and it leaves the server crawling after
some time (at least that's what we have encountered on our server). It
is alright with a client-server app where crystal is running on the
client side in which case the memory gets released as soon as the
client app exits.

Apart from that there are issues with deploying it - it works on some
systems and fails with some license issue on others (I have also posted
this issue and of course, there was no response). There are numerous
posts regarding this issue and its resolution but one thing is clear
that there is no clear cut resolution to that.

Given the lack of support on Crystal I would advise for a home grown
system or RS (I am sure it will only improve with time).

--rk

Nov 16 '05 #8
The thing about SSRS is that if someone has already paid for a SQL
Server license - then they own SSRS. Many people on the groups don't
realize this. It's fiscally prudent to at least evaluate what you
already own.

--
Scott
http://www.OdeToCode.com/blogs/scott/
On Mon, 14 Feb 2005 15:22:05 -0800, "Brian Bischof"
<Br***@NoSpamBi schofSystems.co m> wrote:
The thing that makes Crystal Reports confusing is that there are sooo many
versions of it out there and you never know which version someone is talking
about in these posts.

Here is my take on things: CR.NET is considered an upsell product. Thus, you
get it free in the box with the hopes that you'll upgrade. Given that, the
retail versions are much better. The latest version of Crystal, XI, has many
upgrades and bug fixes and the report processing performance has been
improved and has better exporting. All around it's a much better product.
Unfortunatel y, CR.NET 2003 isn't such a hot product and continues to give CR
a bad name. Of course, CR isn't perfect - no question about that. But
without a doubt the latest version XI is a big step forward. Plus, they have
it available as a free 30 day download on their site.

The problem I have with RS is that it is a 1.0 product and it has a lot of
problems, but people recommend it like it's reporting nirvana. I've yet to
use a MS 1.0 product and have it run without a hitch (or any company's
product for that matter). Reporting Services is great if you want to do
simple reports and are willing to do lots of manual coding to fill in the
gaps that MS left out. I see people on the newsgroups saying, "RS is great!
You need to try it out. I got my reports to run in no time." Everything is
great when you run a few wizards. But then when you dig a little deeper into
the feature set you see questions like, "Hey, I want to do X and it won't do
it. Why not?"; "Why do my Excel/PDF exports keep getting screwed up?"; "Why
is SQL Server performance so slow now?"; "How do I make it read from a
DataSet?" and "Why does it cost $20K to support ASP.NET Forms
Authentication ?" There are usually three common answers to these questions:
1) Write your own custom extensions, 2) Rewrite your stored procedures to do
all the work RS won't do, and 3) Wait for a future version. Let's hope your
customers are patient while you do all this extra coding or wait till it
gets fixed in a future version. Plus, if you plan on doing any heavy
reporting with it then you need to put it on a separate server ($5K license)
or else your SQL box will get hammered b/c it is resource intensive. It's
only free for companies that don't have much SQL activity.

All in all, I think RS definitely makes a lot of aspects of writing reports
easier. In fact, the Table object is pretty damn stellar and nothing else
compares to it. RS is a great tool that can crank out a lot of reports very
fast. But it's a 1.0 product that is still missing a lot of features. I've
seen NG posts from people saying, "I convinced my manager/client to go with
RS and now it doesn't do the things I assumed would work. Someone help!" The
answer is "it will be fixed in a future release". RS still needs a few more
versions under its belt before it can be recommended carte blanche to
everyone.
"rk" <kr*****@hotmai l.com> wrote in message
news:11******* *************** @g14g2000cwa.go oglegroups.com. ..
The biggest issue with Crystal running on a server is that the crystal
components keep leaking memory and it leaves the server crawling after
some time (at least that's what we have encountered on our server). It
is alright with a client-server app where crystal is running on the
client side in which case the memory gets released as soon as the
client app exits.

Apart from that there are issues with deploying it - it works on some
systems and fails with some license issue on others (I have also posted
this issue and of course, there was no response). There are numerous
posts regarding this issue and its resolution but one thing is clear
that there is no clear cut resolution to that.

Given the lack of support on Crystal I would advise for a home grown
system or RS (I am sure it will only improve with time).

--rk


Nov 16 '05 #9
And u certainly don't have to multi-post this to every newsgroup. posting to
the crystal newsgroup would be sufficient.

--
Regards,
Alvin Bruney [Microsoft MVP ASP.NET]

[Shameless Author plug]
The Microsoft Office Web Components Black Book with .NET
Now Available @ http://www.lulu.com/owc
----------------------------------------------------------
"Scott Allen" <sc***@nospam.o detocode.com> wrote in message
news:1k******** *************** *********@4ax.c om...
The thing about SSRS is that if someone has already paid for a SQL
Server license - then they own SSRS. Many people on the groups don't
realize this. It's fiscally prudent to at least evaluate what you
already own.

--
Scott
http://www.OdeToCode.com/blogs/scott/
On Mon, 14 Feb 2005 15:22:05 -0800, "Brian Bischof"
<Br***@NoSpamBi schofSystems.co m> wrote:
The thing that makes Crystal Reports confusing is that there are sooo many
versions of it out there and you never know which version someone is
talking
about in these posts.

Here is my take on things: CR.NET is considered an upsell product. Thus,
you
get it free in the box with the hopes that you'll upgrade. Given that, the
retail versions are much better. The latest version of Crystal, XI, has
many
upgrades and bug fixes and the report processing performance has been
improved and has better exporting. All around it's a much better product.
Unfortunately , CR.NET 2003 isn't such a hot product and continues to give
CR
a bad name. Of course, CR isn't perfect - no question about that. But
without a doubt the latest version XI is a big step forward. Plus, they
have
it available as a free 30 day download on their site.

The problem I have with RS is that it is a 1.0 product and it has a lot of
problems, but people recommend it like it's reporting nirvana. I've yet to
use a MS 1.0 product and have it run without a hitch (or any company's
product for that matter). Reporting Services is great if you want to do
simple reports and are willing to do lots of manual coding to fill in the
gaps that MS left out. I see people on the newsgroups saying, "RS is
great!
You need to try it out. I got my reports to run in no time." Everything is
great when you run a few wizards. But then when you dig a little deeper
into
the feature set you see questions like, "Hey, I want to do X and it won't
do
it. Why not?"; "Why do my Excel/PDF exports keep getting screwed up?";
"Why
is SQL Server performance so slow now?"; "How do I make it read from a
DataSet?" and "Why does it cost $20K to support ASP.NET Forms
Authenticatio n?" There are usually three common answers to these
questions:
1) Write your own custom extensions, 2) Rewrite your stored procedures to
do
all the work RS won't do, and 3) Wait for a future version. Let's hope
your
customers are patient while you do all this extra coding or wait till it
gets fixed in a future version. Plus, if you plan on doing any heavy
reporting with it then you need to put it on a separate server ($5K
license)
or else your SQL box will get hammered b/c it is resource intensive. It's
only free for companies that don't have much SQL activity.

All in all, I think RS definitely makes a lot of aspects of writing
reports
easier. In fact, the Table object is pretty damn stellar and nothing else
compares to it. RS is a great tool that can crank out a lot of reports
very
fast. But it's a 1.0 product that is still missing a lot of features. I've
seen NG posts from people saying, "I convinced my manager/client to go
with
RS and now it doesn't do the things I assumed would work. Someone help!"
The
answer is "it will be fixed in a future release". RS still needs a few
more
versions under its belt before it can be recommended carte blanche to
everyone.
"rk" <kr*****@hotmai l.com> wrote in message
news:11****** *************** *@g14g2000cwa.g ooglegroups.com ...
The biggest issue with Crystal running on a server is that the crystal
components keep leaking memory and it leaves the server crawling after
some time (at least that's what we have encountered on our server). It
is alright with a client-server app where crystal is running on the
client side in which case the memory gets released as soon as the
client app exits.

Apart from that there are issues with deploying it - it works on some
systems and fails with some license issue on others (I have also posted
this issue and of course, there was no response). There are numerous
posts regarding this issue and its resolution but one thing is clear
that there is no clear cut resolution to that.

Given the lack of support on Crystal I would advise for a home grown
system or RS (I am sure it will only improve with time).

--rk

Nov 16 '05 #10

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