Many Java reporting tools, especially those have some BI characteristic, often claim to end users that their products are simple to use. These reporting tool often promise that they can make a report just by drag and drop, and even allow end users to make various statistical reports follow their own inclinations.
Has report development become so easily?!
The fact is that programmers are still struggling against various reports. Both reporting tools and OLAP products seldom allow end users to use them directly, therefore, end users are still using Excel.
For end users, making a simple Web report (with row grouping or simple cross) with these pure technical tools is ok, as they can do with the wizard and the semantic layer. However, end users can not make most complex reports by dragging and dropping the relations of data structure which they do not understood. Therefore, it is impossible for end users to make all the report with these pure technical tools.
Drag and drop can only set the positions of data items, but they even can not do this very well. As current reporting tools' editing styles are commonly based on controls, and it is a general editing proposal of graphical primitive, it absolutely does not show the regularity of table. However, real successful table products like Excel are not based on controls. For summary conditions, grouping rules and operation formulas, which have to be dealt with in complex reports, drag and drop can do nothing at all. Therefore, end users have to understand the operation model of report first, and then, write abstract expressions. This is not much easier than coding.
Then, is it impossible for end users to make Web reports by themselves? Yes, it is possible of course! However, they can only make those simple reports with universal reporting tools. In order to make complex industry reports, they must use reporting tools with industry characteristics. In other words, programmers must add industry experience into some technical reporting tools, and set the styles and templates of report. Then, end users only need to input parameters and indicators to make various complex reports. The degree of difficulty is determined by the functions and integration of the reporting tool.
To sum up, it is not easy to make complex reports by drag and drop as others said.
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