Last time I wrote an article analyzing why FineReport can go beyond Tableau and occupy China’s BI market. I made a comparison of the two companies from product line, product positioning, product roadmap and the situation of Chinese enterprises. Now, I will specifically talk about the differences in functionality between Tableau and FineReport.

First of all, we must make clear that Tableau is an OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) product, while FineReport is an OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) product. Both are data processing and analysis softwares, but they have different target population and market focus. Tableau is suitable for professional analysts who are familiar with analytical techniques and business executives with pivotal analysis needs. FineReport is led and designed by IT staff, with business executives involved. The difference in target population leads to differences in functionality between the two products. Let’s introduce them separately.

1. Data Integration

Both Tableau and FineReport are data processing softwares that integrate data from different databases, including SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, DB2, or file sources like Microsoft Excel, TXT, XML, etc. But their ways of integrating data are different.

Tableau integrates data sources into a single analytic file primarily in a table-associated manner.

FineReport integrates various data sources through flexible SQL syntax and dynamic parameter injection to present them in reports.

From FineReport

2. Table Style

As a front-end analysis tool, Tableau only provides three types of table due to the limitations of the application framework: list, crosstab, and pivot table. The table configuration is less flexible. But in the actual application of enterprises, you will encounter very complex requirements, such as making irregular tables, group financial statements, and crosstabs. A major feature of FineReport is the design of these complex reports.

FineReport supports Excel-style cells, which can flexibly configure various Excel table styles.It is very professional in handling complex reports in a wide variety of formats.

3. Chart Type

Tableau has a wealth of visual charts that are close to the UI and UX design of the users. The configuration is simple. You just need to drag and drop to complete the chart.

FineReport also has a lot of visual charts, while providing API interface and conditional property settings. You can change the chart type at will.

From FineReport

4. Dashboard

You can easily create a dashboard with Tableau. But there is still an old problem. As with the table configuration mentioned above, Tableau can’t support some dashboards with special styles.

FineReport is suitable for developing personalized dashboards, and the layout and style can be customized.

From FineReport
From FineReport

5. Statistical Analysis Model

As a front-end data analysis software, statistical analysis is one of Tableau’s strengths. Tableau supports a very rich set of models, providing relatively professional financial statistical analysis functions. It also supports R language.

FineReport does have a shortcoming in this area. It needs to be combined with SQL, Stored Procedure, Java and Excel functions.

6. Data Writeback 

In daily operations of enterprises, in addition to counting and displaying data, we often need to enter data into the database, such as adding or deleting data, or modifying old data.

Tableau takes the data out of the data source for statistical analysis, but it does not support data writeback. Users can’t add or delete data with Tableau.

FineReport can design WEB or APP writeback forms. It supports writing data to relational databases such as MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server. It also provides complete business process like verification, storage, submission, review, rejection, and release. You can also import Excel data into the database.

From FineReport

7. Enterprise Platform

The enterprise data platform built by Tableau has basic functions such as scheduled transmission, online report analysis, and permission control. The entire platform is more suitable for analysts.

FineReport builds an enterprise data platform that supports timed transmission, online report analysis, dashboard, permission control, AD integration, and printing of various types of report. The functions are more perfect. It is more suitable for use by personnel at all levels of the company, from making salary label paper to creating a decision-making dashboard.

8. Multi-dimensional Analysis

Tableau has flexible OLAP capabilities, making multi-dimensional operation very easy.

FineReport can also implement multi-dimensional analysis, but it doesn’t have the concept of OLAP. In each level of dimension, FineReport needs to do data processing or make a separate report.

9. Printing Function

Only Tableau Desktop supports printing, and its print settings are relatively simple. Tableau Server does not support users to print directly when viewing data on the browser side. Tableau itself can’t make a paged report, so there is no page number option for printing.

FineReport has powerful printing functions. It supports PDF printing, applet printing, and Flash printing. Users can print directly on the browser side. FineReport provides options like printing offset, page number, background, paper orientation, etc. It is especially good at bill printing, such as financial invoices, courier receipts, business documents, etc.

10. Permission Control

Tableau can manage permissions according to workbooks. A single workbook can be assigned different permissions based on different views.

In addition to assigning permissions to a single report, FineReport can also filter data according to user permissions, and the results can be configured in a single cell. In other words, for the same report, A can see the contents of cell A1, and B does not have permission to see it.

From FineReport

11. Terminal Display

Tableau focuses on the presentation of information analysis.

FineReport has more interactive configurations, which can upload photos, write back data. And it is compatible with all types of reports on the platform. 

12. Integration Capability

Tableau can only integrate well-made templates into other web applications through the JavaScript code generated in Tableau Server.

FineReport has an open API interface: Java and JavaScript. It can integrate OEM into existing business systems like ERP/OA/MES or APPs. FineReport opens interfaces, and it can also be customized for development, close to the use of enterprise information integration.

13. Learning Resources

Tableau is more closed. Getting the learning channels is not easy. It’s necessary to negotiate with the partner. And a new supervisor may not be able to adapt to this type of tool.

FineReport has more than 2,000 online documents that are completely open, and a forum for thousands of people. The learning resources are open to everyone.


Both Tableau and FineReport have their own advantages and disadvantages, which has something to do with the market positioning of the two. Tableau is a data analysis tool with the advantage of flexible data analysis operations on the front end. There is no need to write code. It is suitable for data analysts. The disadvantage is that it can only perform data analysis and cannot meet other requirements such as making complex reports, printing, and collecting data. 

FineReport is positioned in enterprise-level data collection and processing. It meets the personalized reporting needs of all departments in various fields. It also has powerful printing and data filling functions. In addition, the users that FineReport targets are biased towards IT personnel with a certain technical foundation, such as the information department of the enterprise.

So, which tool should we choose: Tableau or FineReport? It is necessary to take into account the business needs, data capabilities of employees, enterprise future planning, integration needs of IT department, etc. The key is not the tool itself.

Follow FineReport Reporting Software on Facebook for more information!

FineReport vs Tableau: why can FineReport occupy China’s BI market?

FineReport Beats SAP Again and Wins First Place in China’s BI Market