Reporting Services V Crystal Reports

Last Post 05 Mar 2004 07:34 AM by bigelectricmac. 5 Replies.
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spidur1
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05 Mar 2004 06:28 AM
Has anyone evaluated both Crystal Reports and Reporting Services, I'd like to know what you think? We have been using Crystal Reports for many years and I'd like to know of any good reasons to switch.
bigelectricmac
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05 Mar 2004 07:34 AM
You know, that is a big question.

I'm using both, and after you get over the learning curve (about two days) of designing reports - you will find that using the product appears much more intuitive than Crystal.

For starters, I appreicate the fact that the reporting services environment is targeted primarily for SQL Server. What does this mean for my end users? I will NOT have to install any reporting services runtime files, there will be no ODBC connections that have to be created since I'm using the SQL Server driver instead.

Now of course, I realize that you can target another data source for reporting services - although I can see 95% of the market is not going to be targeting anything else but SQL Server.

Crystal has really rubbed me the wrong way - I used to love them! But with constant upgrades, no longer being cheap enough for our customers, not to mention having to run through the racolme of teaching our customers crystal so they than write custom reports - with Crystal getting more complicated... sorry for the rant.

Now its just back to the basics! This I love. I wish I could give you more concrete examples, but its the experience of using them both that I can say I really like reporting services.

=-Chris
franksingleton
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10 Mar 2004 10:31 AM
Fortunately I have not had to spend much time in the report world. I have had experience with CR and none yet with RS. I find CR to produce great reports and lots of cool outputs. Great stuff for static kinds of reporting. RS is great because it comes with SQL Server. I am leary of their "free" boasts but you run into licensing issues with CR as well. Plus I think RS is still new and yet to be refined.

I don't know about you but I would like to find less design intensive products that I can create on the fly. I have checked out DBNetgrid and they seem more like this and have programmable capabilities. Has anyone seen other products like this?

Frank-
dterrie
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11 Mar 2004 02:59 PM
From a report designer standpoint, the RS design paradigm, while powerful, is a little hard to get used to if you've worked with a 'banded' report design paradigm for some time. Simple tasks such as setting page breaks on a mail merge letter report are less than straight-forward initially. It does not help that the documentation is limited. Further, setting dataset parameters vs. report parameters is unnecessarily confusing. Perhaps the most glaring difference is the lack of events to program against and the lack of a code behind feature as used elsewhere in vs.net. The little code window is an embarrassment. Data Dynamics ActiveReports does this well, so nothing is stopping Microsoft. One the plus side, the integration with SQL server is a great asset (subscriptions, delivery options, etc.). The table and matrix controls are undoubtedly great for drill-down reports as well. Regardless of its current shortcomings (when has version 1.0 of anything MS comes out with been fully realized?), I have no doubt that all players in the reporting space will end up reading and writing RDL compliant XML files. RS is as much a platform as a product and is sure to see wide-spread adoption. My two cents.
beanbrown
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16 Mar 2004 09:32 AM
I use both CR and RS, and in recently evaluating them both to select the right platform for the future, I think RS is it for me, but here's my thoughts...let me know if I'm missing anything!

1. I only really care about reporting from SQL2k, since if I don't have the data in SQL2k (i.e. xls, csv or xml files), I import it into the DB or the Data Warehouse and report from it at that point, so both CR and RS work well, however...
2. RS appears to be much faster in design mode, which is VERY nice since I don't care to wait for the numbers I already know are right...
3. RS parameters are nice (and fast), and although you can do something sort of similar in CR, drop down lists are not dynamic, nor do I find them intuitive since they popup at the beginning of a report.
4. RS design environment is MUCH more intuitive...I cannot tell you how many times I have to tab through all the CR menus and/or figure out that Crystal Basic language...I never thought I would appreciate VB-like coding I also think that the layout designer works more as expected and things are easier to line up, or group change.
5. The price is right

There is one thing that Crystal has (NOT Crystal Reports), and that is Crystal Analysis, which allows viewing OLAP sources. The MS version is supposed to be released with Yukon, which I'm anxious to see, but a bird in hand is better than a fistful of feathers...

Perhaps if I did not have an extra SQL server 2k with IIS, I would have to consider the cost a little more, but I do, so no biggie...

Wants?
1. OLAP integration
2. More Visual Studio integration...(can you plop a RS object into a C# project?)

QESDeveloper
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16 Mar 2004 12:27 PM
We are currently using Crystal Reports for internal reporting. Even if conversion of existing reports were not an issue (but it's a formidable issue), I doubt that we would switch any time soon.

At first glance, Reporting Services seems to be implemented as a glorified web page editor/generator/server. It could/should have leveraged off of the very productive report designer and very capable report rendering engine of Access and added additional output formats and distribution capability.

Again at first glance, Reporting Services appears to use HTML (notorious for lack of richness in appearance and notorious for requiring contortions when attempting to achieve richness in appearance) as the starting point and then attempts to promote that output to a format (such as PDF) capable of higher quality.

Personally, I don't care for the designer of Crystal Reports, I think it's quite clunky. I'm disappointed that Reporting Services took a big step backward from there. I think the apparent web/HTML foundation is a drawback. In my opinion, Microsoft had a far superior starting point (Access) in their hands and failed to recognize it, capitalize on it, and improve on it.


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