With the advent of the. NET platform, report-related development controls come with a number of mature products available to developers, and this article aims to compare the current 4 most popular models from different dimensions. NET report controls: Crystal Reports, Fastreport, ActiveReports and Stimulsoft, give all report developers a comprehensive reference when making product selection.
Why do I need a report control
Because of Microsoft's promotion in China for decades,. NET as a preferred development platform for many development teams when developing business projects. With the use of the visual Studio IDE, many developers are accustomed to doing a lot of visual design, testing, and debugging of the code in VS.
And the data report, as an essential function of the business system (or become a module), with these years of big data, BI, data decision-making popular, the data report has gradually become a business system in the core function (module).
As a result, the appearance of the report control is to greatly simplify the development of complex data report design, debugging, preview, printing, export and other functional code development, so that developers can devote energy and time to data collation, preparation and UI aspects.
From the earliest Microsoft reports XXXS (SQL Server Reporting Services), Crystal Reports, to today's wide variety of reporting tools, today's rich reporting controls, how to choose the most appropriate control for your project is an issue that every developer must consider.
Common. NET report Control Introduction
- SQL Server Reporting Services (XXXS): It is a product from Microsoft. Created as an add-on on SQL Server. This Report Builder is popular among T-SQL developers, mainly because it is included in the MS SQL Server database.
- RDLC: Microsoft's own RDLC report, integrated into Visual Studio, is a report tool that comes with Visual Studio, is easy to use, and has been widely used in many system development.
- Fastreport.net: The product of a Russian developer with a long history. FR. NET Builder works with Microsoft Visual Studio and is based on the. NET Framework. When you install the program, its components are added to the VS palette. We use FR in the application by placing the component on the form or by connecting the library in code. Just like Xxxs, it has a report designer that starts separately, but you can use the ReportDesigner component to embed the designer in your application.
- ActiveReports: The more than 20-year-old report control is a full-fledged reporting solution for the. NET platform, characterized by the need to implement all kinds of report design without coding. Unique moment Table control, designed to solve the Chinese-style complex report, the other in the report printing, presentation and other aspects of industry-leading.
- Stimulsoft Report:stimulsoft has a large number of report-related tools such as Report Builder, Report Designer, Reports For.net, Web, MVC, WPF, Silverlight, Flex, PHP, Java, Mobile, WINRT and so on.
- Crystal Reports: Developed by Crystal Services, primarily for the design and production of reports. After many acquisitions, has been acquired by SAP, from 12 release to 16 version, now because the Crystal Report for SAP services, so more focus on data analysis, and not focus on the design of the report easy.
This article compares each of the. NET report controls from the following several dimensions
- Data source connections (whether cross-data sources are supported)
- Integration with Visual Studio
- Report Design process (designer)
- Chinese support level
- Table-type report development capabilities
- Chart Class report development capabilities
- Browser compatibility
- Authorization and deployment
Data source support and ability to link across data sources
In the actual project, often the data will have a variety of database or file system, even online dynamic data, whether it can support more data sources and can support multiple data sources in a report simultaneously display and association, this will greatly simplify the work of developers.
- Crystal Reports support commonly used databases Access, excel,xml files, OLE db drivers, ODBC drivers, JDBC-driven arbitrary databases, Salesforce data, etc.
- Fastreport supports commonly used databases: Fastreport uses the ADO data source, which is known to support connecting to any database, such as access, OLE DB driver, ODBC driver, SQL, and XML, CSV data, and can classify and sort data and filter data. Only database single-connection is supported, the same report is not supported across multiple data sources.
- Stimulsoft report supports commonly used databases, Access, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, XML, etc., in addition to support such as Firebird, IBM Db2, Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise, and so on. The same report is not supported across multiple data sources.
- ActiveReports supports commonly used databases: Oracle, SQL Server, Access, XML, CSV, JSON, ODBC driver, OLE DB driver supported databases. In addition to the common relational database, ActiveReports Supports runtime-bound data sources such as DataTable data sources, Object data sources, Json data sources, and so on.
ActiveReports in connection with the common database SQL Server,access,oracle,json provided by the Visual Link window, the user does not need to remember each database connection string, the writing, only need to enter the corresponding user name and password, ActiveReports automatically generates the connection string, so it can save a lot of time for the user, which is the easiest to use in all. NET report controls. Also,ActiveReports is the only report control that supports cross-data sources from the same report .
ActiveReports also has a bright eye place is the "Visual data Query Designer", compared to these products similar to the designer, the other products can only provide a maximum of two table association, and ActiveReports for the number of tables there is no limit, and only need to drag the data table to the UI interface , you can automatically generate SQL statements by making critical associations. This is also handy for developers who are unfamiliar with SQL syntax.
Integration with VS
Based on the. NET platform Development, the Visual Studio IDE is the most familiar tool for developers, and if it can be tightly integrated with the Visual studio IDE, it will greatly reduce the window switching loss at development time, while working in the IDE in a familiar way can greatly improve efficiency.
- Crystal Reports: Supports Visual Studio 2010 and above, and supports the development of WPF, WinForms, ASP. NET project templates.
- Fastreport: Supports the latest version of Visual Studio, supports Visual Studio 2005 and above, and supports the development of WPF, WinForms, ASP, and MVC projects.
- Stimulsoft report: Supports Visual Studio full platform, but after the integration is installed, users are required to manually add to the Toolbox. Many features that are used in MVC and ASP. HTML5 are not supported, such as creating dynamic reports, drillthrough features. So if you consider using HTML5 as the output, you may need to consider other products.
For all internal report formats, it is not common across platforms, such as internal Mdz, MDX, and MRX formats, and can only be used in WinForms, WPF, ASP. So to migrate from one platform to another, you need to consider creating a common report file format.
- ActiveReports supports Visual Studio 2010 and later and supports Visual Studio platform-wide development, HTML5, WinForms, ASP. asp, and WPF.
- ActiveReports supports Visual Studio 2010 and later and supports Visual Studio platform-wide development, HTML5, WinForms, ASP. asp, and WPF.
Report Design process (designer)
- Crystal Report: Designer style with Word editor style, more data source management and other windows. Users who are accustomed to using Word editor can get started quickly. The Crystal Report Designer supports only one type of report, according to the type of report, divides the report into different bodyguard headers, the header detail area, the footer of the report.
- Fastreport: There are five options at the top of Report Designer to toggle the selection of the desired settings to the left is the selection of the toolbar, by double-clicking on the selection of the control, Fastreport only support one type of report, according to the Regional report type abbreviated area report, the report is divided into report header, header, Detail, footer.
- Stimulsoft Report: Designer style and experience is also consistent with Office, so the first contact with Stimulsoft report will not feel very strange. But if you want to start creating a report, you may need to follow the documentation step-by-step.
Stimulsoft report does not provide integrated reporting designer with Visual Studio, so users cannot make report design in Visual Studio.
- ActiveReports: The overall style of Report Designer and Visual Studio consistent, looks more professional, the use of a little bit difficult, but fortunately ActiveReports provide designer source code , developers can customize the entire designer according to the requirements. Includes report design, Report preview, Report export function. Designers for the user base for non-technical staff, using drag-and-drop editing to achieve all types of report design.
ActiveReports supports four types of reports, code-based area reports, template-based area reports, page reports, and RDL reports to meet different report design needs.
ActiveReports provides a report Designer with integrated vs and a stand-alone Report designer so that users can open Visual Studio without having to leave Visual Studio to design the report. Greatly improved the development convenience.
Chinese support level
After the report control is published, the end user sees multiple UI components related to the report control, the Parameters panel, the print preview, the toolbar, and so on, in addition to Chinese and English, support for other languages is also a point to consider the extent to which the report controls apply.
At the same time, it is difficult for a report control to get access to Chinese resources, help, documentation, technical support, and to determine whether the control can play its part in the project.
Chinese UI Support
- Crystal Report: Support Simplified Chinese, in addition to Chinese support 27 other commonly used languages, these language resource files are embedded in the product, can be used directly.
- Fastreports: Support for Simplified Chinese, in addition to Chinese support 27 other commonly used languages, these language resource files are embedded in the product, can be used directly.
- Stimulsoft: Embedded in 28 language support, set up a localized language, very simple, only by switching languages, the entire interface will immediately switch to the current language version, this is particularly convenient to use, and does not require developers to do special localization settings, and then automatically switch according to the operating system.
- ActiveReports There are no restrictions on language support, the built-in Resource pack contains English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and if needed to support other languages, ActiveReports provides the requirements for localizing resource packs so that different UI interfaces can be customized regardless of the end user's language.
Chinese technical Support
- Crystal Report: Now belongs to the SAP Company's reporting tools, there is no dedicated technical service team, related information and service support is in English. As a result, it may be time-consuming to find a technical support process. And can not be resolved through direct communication, such as telephone, conference, on-site training and so on. In addition the official website is also in the foreign country, because the network problem, may cause the download trial process not to be smooth. Crystal Report FAQ's Manual (English)
- Fastreport: There is no special technical team in China responsible for the pre-sale, after-sale support of products, there is no corresponding rich Chinese materials such as: Video, Chinese documents, examples of demo, forum. Product providers also do not provide after-sales technical support, before the purchase needs to fully evaluate the good products, development encountered any technical problems can only be solved by themselves.
- Stimulsoft: Is the Russian report control manufacturers, there is no dedicated domestic support team, all the site resources are in English, the resources are more comprehensive, if the language is not a barrier, the use of information is not any problem. With Crystal Reports there is an equally troubling problem is that there is no domestic support team, there are any technical problems either to check their own data to solve, or to use English to mail or online communication.
Stimulsoft report online Help documentation FAQ's Manual
- ActiveReports: Has a professional business team in China, comprehensive Chinese information, such as Chinese help Manual, Chinese introductory video, Chinese blog, Chinese community support, gold Service phone, Chinese training and so on. Therefore, in helping domestic enterprises to quickly get started, quickly solve the difficulties of use, occupy a great advantage.
Chinese Technical Support Forum FAQs Manual (Chinese) Learn video Demo code
The level of support for table-type reports
Domestic system, a large number of table classes (Excel class, document Class) Data report development, such as statistical summary, test reports, forms and so on.
The ability to support the design and development of such reports is often a decisive factor in the adoption of this control
- Crystal Report: Provides a crosstab control, an OLAP report control, that can be created in a similar single-dimension and multidimensional pivot table in Excel. But the flexibility is not strong, you can only create a single-header PivotTable report. You cannot modify or add totals, summarize formulas, or customize cell merges. It is also impossible to support the diagonal slash and irregular cell merging of Chinese complex reports.
- Fastreports: Provides matrix controls for complex report design, single-dimensional and multidimensional PivotTables that can be auto-aggregated and alert, but designed to be complex and less flexible. The automatic merging of cells is not supported and the design of complex headers is not possible.
- Stimulsoft: Provides a table control and crosstab (cross Tab) to resolve the needs of list tear reports and pivot tables separately. However, the table control is not a strictly meaningful table, and there is no concept of detail data in the header footer, which is combined with cells, so the display of each row cannot be controlled. A crosstab can create a multidimensional aggregate pivot table, but only the default sum is selected in the aggregate expression, and complex headers cannot be created.
- ActiveReports: Provides a tabular control, a moment table control designed to create word-class reports and Excel-class tabular reports, as well as a variety of complex Chinese-style reports.
The creation of complex reports is a activereports feature, using the provided tables and moment tables, you can flexibly implement cell merging, mostly complex header reports.
Level of support for chart class reports
With the growing demand for charts, Dashboard, and large-screen applications in the business system, the type and appearance of the chart support is an important aspect of the report control.
Chart Type (note: Red labels are unique to each brand)
- Crystal Reports support chart types include: bar, column, line, area, pie, scatter, bubble, Gantt, gauge , funnel, three-dimensional, radar .
- Fastreport supported chart types include: bar, column, line, area, pie, scatter, bubble, Gantt, scale , funnel, three-dimensional, and radar charts.
- Stimulsoft reports Support chart types: 38 types are supported, the chart UI is flat, and the designer provides multiple sets of UI theme choices, so it's best to be aesthetically pleasing.
- ActiveReports Reports Support chart types: Bar chart, column chart, line chart, area chart, pie chart, scatter chart, bubble chart, Gantt Chart, funnel chart, three-dimensional chart, financial chart, three-dimensional chart, multi-y-axis chart , Composite Chart , four quadrant chart .
Chart design Steps
- Crystal Report
Crystal Reports you must prepare the data for the chart, and when the data is ready, you can use the chart control, and it is not convenient to create a chart for reports of the run-time report data source.
Fastreports when you create a chart, you first insert the chart and then bind the corresponding data source.
ActiveReports when you create a chart, you only need to provide the data fields that are available for the report, so it is relatively convenient in data binding.
- Crystal Report: Support IE 10 and above, Firefox ESR 52.0 and above, Edge14.14 and above, Chrome browser, does not support IE 10 browser below.
- Fastreport: Reports support all current browsers IE, Google, Firefox, Safari, etc.
- Stimulsoft: Support IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, but require the web-side to browse the report needs to install different plugins, such as Flash,activex.
- Activereports:ie +, Firefox 20 +, Chrome 30 +, Safari 6.0+
The students engaged in the project development, affirmation of the changes after the release of abhorrence, often after the release of the frequent changes will result in delays in the delivery of the project, the more the more bugs, for the report module, similar post-release changes are commonplace, how the project after the release of rapid response to demand changes and ensure quality, This is a question that every project leader must consider.
- Crystal Reports: Report requirements no matter how small the changes, you need to recompile the entire project after the modification, so the cost of maintenance is very large and there is no separate designer for the end user to add to the report.
- Fastreport: Non-development customers can not self-report design, when the report program after the release of the customer if you want to make simple changes are required to return to redesign and compile.
- Stimulsoft: is for different platforms, need to be designed to publish the report file according to the platform to be compiled into the corresponding files, so after the release, if there is a need to change the report, the whole project also need to re-release maintenance, the same report file, can not be used in different platforms barrier-free.
- ActiveReports: report design file as a standalone XML file, but also provide the end user designer for the developer, can modify the report, only need to replace the old file after the modification, it can be used normally, do not need to recompile the publication.
How to choose
Regardless of which report control, there is the most suitable for the scene, only clear the project's explicit requirements in order to make the control really save development costs, improve product quality. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a selection:
browser compatibility, Crystal Reports are based on the Internet Explorer core development, so the Internet Explorer has a good compatibility, but for other mainstream reports such as: Google, Firefox, Safari and other browser compatibility is not very good, in the web-side display when the affinity ratio is low, but activereports, Fastreport,stimulsoft in the browser support, especially IE, Google, Firefox, Safari browser has a good compatibility, on the web side of the show has a good affinity will not appear error.
On the web side of the display, Crystal Reports need to install an ActiveX plugin, and the interactivity is poor. Stimulsoft reports requires plugins such as Flash,activex installed on the client to be previewed. ActiveReports and Fastreport do not install any plugins on the web side, support html5,html Viewer,flash Viewer,raw Html,acrobat Reade, etc.
Now more and more users tend to move the office, so the demand for mobile is also greatly increased, and Crystal report because now mainly for SAP auxiliary data analysis, so the mobile report support is almost no, Fastreport support mobile report display. Stimulsoft is mobile based on HTML5 technology, but the Html5viewer feature is limited, much less than native. NET functionality. ActiveReports provides a responsive reporting capability based on HTML5 technology html5viewer, with good interactivity.
quickly create complex reports
Apply to the Chinese market, need to adapt to the domestic characteristics of the market demand, and the Chinese-style complex report is the test report tools, whether to meet the market a large standard, whether it is a complex calculation of accounting statements, or complex table header Summary Statistical report, or the high degree of freedom of the cell consolidation report, Each kind of typical report is the pain point of Chinese Report Designer, and it is also an important criterion to test whether the report tool can meet the requirement. Stimulsoft, Fastreport, all provide a crosstab control, but this control only supports the creation of multidimensional pivot tables and cannot be flexibly customized or modified. If you want to implement a complex report presentation, you must rely on the TextBox to cobble together the implementation. ActiveReports provides a unique control "moment table, which can be implemented in China with a drag-and-drop design and automatic merging.
Multi-data source support
Information system after years of accumulation or new system business data are more and more complex, in order to security may exist in different databases at the same time, so the reporting tool must support a variety of mainstream databases, to be compatible with the new source of the database, but also to deal with multi-data source of the application scenarios, And Crystal Reports are currently unable to do multi-data source support, Stimulsoft, Fastreport, are not supported in the same report to bind multiple data sources and display. ActiveReports supports binding multiple data sources in the same report and showing them in the same data control.
Technical Services and support
Regardless of which reporting tool you choose, developers need to get started and use it quickly, and with the development of the system there will be new requirements, so you can quickly obtain technical support at any time, but also a major factor in the choice of enterprises, otherwise in the face of problems, developers can only spend a lot of time and energy to find solutions. Conversely, if you have a professional technical team, you can easily and effectively solve the product problem. 4 products, only activereports in the domestic level of support, Fastreport and Stimulsoft in the domestic agent, but unable to provide technical support.
low maintenance and upgrade costs
The choice of reporting tools is to effectively reduce development costs, so you need to choose the most appropriate reporting tools, and if the late system upgrade or migration will bring a lot of work, it will bring the risk of refactoring, if the reporting tools can have good upward and downward compatibility, it greatly reduces the cost of system upgrade and migration. ActiveReports and Crystal Reports the report file is a file format that is easy to take and upgrade.
As the title says, there is no best, only the most suitable, I hope that the report developers can use this article to the. NET report control selection is helpful.
The author of this article: Grape City Reprint Please affirm
Use only the most suitable! Comprehensive comparison of mainstream. NET Report controls