What is Crystal Reports?

Crystal Reports is a popular Windows-based reporting tool that originated in 1991. It can integrate up to twelve formats of data sources, and create the dynamic report.  

SAP acquired Crystal Reports in 2007, and the latest version is Crystal Reports 2016. As organizations seek versatile reporting tools, the landscape has expanded to include Crystal Reports alternatives, offering diverse features and functionalities.

FineReport: An Excellent Alternative to Crystal Reports
FineReport: An Excellent Alternative to Crystal Reports

Note: All the reports and dashboards shown in this article are created by FineReport, a powerful reporting software that has been honorably mentioned by Gartner Magic Quadrant for ABI Platforms. You can download FineReport for free and have a try!

Try FineReport Now

Crystal Reports Alternative

Two types of software can replace the Crystal Report. One is professional reporting tools such as FineReport and Jasper Report, which are strong in the richness of report styles, the diversity of the data visualization chart, and print function. Another is BI software such as Tableau and PowerBI. Compared to reporting tools, they can realize data forecasts thanks to OLAP analysis and data mining technologies.

Crystal Report Alternative
Difference between BI software and BI reporting tool

Compare Crystal Reports and FineReport 

Next, let’s talk about the comparison between Crystal Reports and FineReport. FineReport has occupied a large market share in the Chinese reporting tools field in recent years. As one of the alternatives to Crystal Reports, what benefits will it bring to you? let’s continue!

1. Basic Comparisons: SAP Crystal Reports vs. FineReport

1.1 Operating System & Platform

Crystal ReportsCrystal Reports only supports Windows;
Crystal Server supports Windows and Linux;
FineReportThe designer supports MacOS and Windows;
The server can be deployed on Linux, Windows and MacOS;
Supported operating systems (SAP Crystal Reports vs. FineReport)

Besides, Crystal Reports has not yet provided a mature mobile reporting solution. If users need to view reports via iPad or mobile phones, they need to use a third-party app called Bezilo.

FineReport provides professional mobile solutions.

Users can use the self-developed reporting APP to view reports, and the APP has been launched on Google Play and iOS. You can also view the report through the mobile browser. In addition, the report designer provides good-looking components and smooth interaction effects to meet the mobile usage scenarios

1.2 Data Connection(Data Sources)

You can get data from a database or file data source. Let us see how Crystals Reports and FineReport support database reporting.

Apart from supporting mainstream databases, Crystal Reports also supports OLAP, Web Service, web reporting, Salesforce, etc.

Crystal Report support mainstream databases
Crystal Report supports mainstream databases

FineReport supports various data sources (sets). The data of the same report can be extracted across databases and tables. It is also easy to join data from ERP/PA /MES and other business systems together in one report.

You can connect data sources in various ways, including direct connection to the database via JDBC, sharing database connection with the application server via JNDI, or connecting to the SAP system via JCO.

crystal reports alternative:FineReport supports multiple data sources
FineReport supports multiple data sources

FineReport supports importing Excel files in batches so that you can empower your historical data conveniently. The generated report can be exported into HTML, PDF, Excel, Word, CSV, SVG, and so on. Besides, these reports can be set as built-in templates so that you can reuse them next time. 

Crystal Report only supports importing data from Excel or Access. Sometimes, the exported Excel may lose formats, which can not meet the printing requirements. And the HTML files generated from Crystal Reports only support IE. 

1.3 Designer: Excel-like Interface vs. Canvas Style

Crystal Reports utilizes a canvas-style interface, providing users with the flexibility to design the report structure freely by placing various elements on the canvas. This free-drawing experience is appreciated for its creative freedom. However, in the case of complex reports, aligning elements can become cumbersome. Additionally, alignment issues arise due to varying resolutions, causing discrepancies between the appearance on the screen and the output on web pages or in print. When seeking a Crystal Reports alternative, these considerations highlight the importance of exploring options that address alignment challenges while maintaining the desired design flexibility.

Crystal Report Alternative
Crystal Report Designer Interface

FineReport uses both an Excel-like interface and a canvas-like interface to cope with different development needs.

  • Excel-like interface for ordinary report development
  • Canvas interface for complex aggregation table or dashboard

Why is it more recommended to have two design interfaces?

With an Excel-like interface, the grid-aligned editing method makes it convenient to report design and output reports. Plus, the attributes of the cell are flexible. So it is easy to generate complex reports.

Crystal Report Alternatives
Excel-like Interface (FineReport)

The diversified layout methods supported by FineReport’s canvas-like design interface, including adaptive layout, absolute layout, and tab layout, are free to use creativity. Through the drag-and-drop operation, the visualization chart, controls, tables, and other components can be placed arbitrarily.

crystal reports alternative:the Canvas style Interface of FineReport
Canvas style Interface (FineReport)
Free Trial of FineReport

2. Crystal Reports: A Comparison in Report Generation

2.1 Grouping Adjustment & Incomplete Grouping

Grouping report data is a fundamental reporting method, and in FineReport, the grouping functionality is cell-based. This means that operations like removing or changing grouping fields are simplified, involving actions solely on cells rather than affecting the overall report data. FineReport also accommodates irregular grouping, allowing users to define groupings based on specific conditions.

In contrast, Crystal Reports employs strip-shaped models for grouping data, necessitating a different approach. Deleting a group in Crystal Reports leads to the simultaneous removal of related grouping cells. Adjusting grouping fields requires a more complex process of removal and reconstruction, leading to repetitive tasks. Additionally, Crystal Reports limits modifications to irregular groups, allowing only changes to group names while restricting alterations to other data-based calculations. When considering a Crystal Reports alternative, these distinctions underscore the advantages of FineReport in terms of user-friendly grouping operations and greater flexibility.

2.2 Data Expansion & Cross-Reports

FineReport excels in bidirectional data expansion, ensuring symmetry in both rows and columns. This bidirectional expansion capability facilitates the creation of cross-reports with ease, allowing for multi-layered structures. FineReport also enables the construction of complex table headers similar to those in column reports.

In contrast, Crystal Reports relies on a specific cross-tab model for generating cross-reports. While this approach automates table header creation through a wizard, it introduces limitations on flexibility. The rigid structure of Crystal Reports may pose challenges when compared to FineReport’s versatile and symmetrical bidirectional data expansion. When seeking a Crystal Reports alternative, these considerations underscore the advantages of FineReport in providing a more flexible and dynamic approach to cross-report generation.

2.3 Reporting Fragment 

In complex reports, it is very common to divide the report into multiple fragments. That is, the entire report can be divided into numerous irregular small blocks. There seems to be no connection between the regions, but the data can be related to each other. 

FineReport supports multiple data sources and symmetric expansion of rows and columns. So each fragment of the report can be independent, but at the same time, these areas support mutual operation and allow a mixture of fixed and variable pieces.

Crystal Report Alternatives
Complex reports (template from FineReport)

The single-table model of Crystal Reports cannot support sharing directly. For fragmented reports, one method is to write code to prepare the data in advance, and the other is to complete by splicing subreports. The process is quite time-consuming, and these two methods are not able to meet the requirements every time, and the required report format is designed.

2.4 Cross-Row Group Operation

It is often necessary to have cross-row group calculations in the Report, such as MoM, and YoY growth calculation. In FineReport, the dynamic calculations between cells can conveniently realize the ranking, YoY, MoM, proportion, cumulative, and other operations cross rows and groups.

YoY, MoM and other Financial Statistics
Report Template from FineReport

Crystal Report only supports specific fixed cross-row calculations, such as cumulative value. To realize more complex cross-row calculations, you need to write codes and prepare data in advance.

2.5 Report Export

  • Crystal Reports can export reports to common file types such as Excel, PDF, and Word.
  • FineReport, in addition to common formats(Excel, PDF, Word), supports exporting as slides, which is convenient for presentations
Try FineReport Now

3. Crystal Reports: A Comparison in Printing

3.1 Chromatography Printing

FineReport uses the base drawing, and absolute positioning to complete the drawing of the report’s style in the chromatography printing. Users can scan the invoice as the background, FineReport designer can accurately locate and place the data according to the background. 

Report Printing
Printable Invoice Template (from FineReport)

Crystal Report uses an accurate measurement. It requires setting the size of the form control by measuring the size of the invoice in advance, which is inefficient.

3.2 Page Printing 

FineReport stands out by offering comprehensive print control capabilities, including the ability to enforce pagination through grouping or other methods and automatically fill in empty rows. During paging, FineReport allows for the repetition of titles, and data can be flexibly divided into columns. This flexibility extends to long reports, which can be segmented into multiple columns for improved display.

In comparison, Crystal Reports typically supports only the repetition of the top header. Crystal Reports lacks the functionality to enforce paging, fill in blank lines, or perform column-related operations effectively. When seeking a Crystal Reports alternative, the robust print control features of FineReport highlight its versatility in addressing various formatting and presentation requirements.

Try FineReport Now

4. Crystal Reports: A Comparison in Data Visualization and Dashboard 

4.1 Charts

Crystal Reports provides various statistical charts and 3D charts.

FineReport provides more than 50 HTML charts that can cope with most statistical needs of daily work. It also supports cooler chart types such as KPI cards, KPI reports, and 3D maps. The chart can be highly customized to fully meet the company’s UI specifications.

Crystal Report Alternative
Interactive Dashboard (by FineReport)

4.2 Maps

Both Crystal Reports and FineReport support traditional Geographic Map. Besides, FineReport can also draw floor plans of local areas such as shopping malls, residential quarters, garages, etc.

4.3 Dashboard

Crystal Reports uses interactive dashboards to meet the most ordinary analysis and display needs. A small weakness is that the style and color of the components are not fashionable enough (subjectively speaking)

Dashboard design with SAP Crystal Report
Dashboard design with SAP Crystal Report

The Dashboard design of FineReport is a bright spot. It supports linkage, drilling, and filtering between components. As a result, data analysis can be easily achieved for the business personnel. In addition, the dashboard made with FineReport supports a carousel, automatic refresh, early warning, etc., which can fully meet the display and monitoring needs of the management. Last but not least, the official provides many preset widgets that developers can directly drag and drop.

5. Crystal Reports: A Comparison in Data Collection 

Crystal Report focuses on the data display. Differently, FineReport can achieve a closed-loop from data entry to the data display. FineReport supports writing data back to the database via web forms. It means you can input data from mobile, PC, and H5. Information can be collected anytime and anywhere to ensure there is no omission. 

5.1 Various Controls

FineReport provides various widget types for data entry such as text, drop-down boxes, date, Files, and so on.

Data Entry of the Crystal Reports alternative  FineReport
FineReport provides various widgets for report designers

5.2 Automatic Calculation 

Forms support the automatic calculation that is similar to EXCEL; the program completes the automatic calculation according to the JavaScript expressions generated by the user’s settings.

5.3 Comprehensive Data Validation

The designer would check the data validation when submitting according to your settings, which ensures the correctness of the data forms.

Crystal Reports Alternative
FineReport’s Data Validation

5.4 Import Excel Data Online

You can import Excel in batches, FineReport provides intelligent matching logic such as match by title and match by position, also support the import of bidirectional extended reports.

Import excel data online
Import Data into FineReport

5.5 Smart Temporary Storage

The smart temporary storage would help avoid data loss due to accidents. 

5.6 Multi-Level Reporting

FineReport can quickly realize the process of data reporting, approval, and return.

Try FineReport Now

6. Crystal Reports: A Comparison in Deployment and Integration 

6.1 Web Deployment 

The service program for the FineReport comes in jars. So it can be packaged with applications and deployed on the application server for easy installation.

The stand-alone server solution for Crystal Reports needs to be installed separately, and the report files need to be deployed independently. It can not be updated with the application.

6.2 Rich APIs

FineReport provides clear structures and rich APIs for programmers to customize. 

Crystal Report adopts stand-alone servers; the reporting app is implemented by using network protocols. The number of interfaces is small and seriously affects performance.

6.3 Seamlessly Integration 

FineReport is a pure JAVA reporting tool that can be seamlessly integrated with JAVA projects. C/S system and page integration are realized through embedded reporting browser controls and iframe. The HTML generated by FineReport can be added to the JSP page easily. 

Easy Deployment and Integration
FineReport Supports Seamless Integration

Crystal Reports has its own portal rules. It is challenging to integrate the reports with the web. 

Try FineReport Now

7. Crystal Reports: A Comparison in Collaboration, Administration, and Sharing

7.1 Roles and Authority

Crystal Reports can simply authorize users. FineReport can perform all-around authority control on operations such as editing cells, editing reports, viewing reports, managing report catalogs, managing data connections, and managing users.

7.2 Scheduling

Crystal Reports allows the distribution of reports by using email. By comparison, FineReport provides a wealth of options. You can store the report file on the server via FTP, push it by mail, or send SMS notifications. It is very convenient to implement regular push of the daily report, weekly report, and monthly report, or push early warning messages.

Summary of Crystal Reports Comparison

FineReport is free for personal use, without the time and function limits. If you are interested in FineReport, you can watch the demo and download FineReport for free.

Free Trial of FineReport

FineReport has been implemented and utilized by nearly 38,000 enterprises or institutions in their reporting projects. Embark on your exciting data journey with FineReport, and the personal version is available at no cost!

For enterprise users, connect with us to receive an exclusive quote on our premium enterprise edition, designed to propel your business with cutting-edge solutions tailored to your specific needs in dynamic reporting.

Also, please feel free to make an appointment for a live demo with our product experts. We will be more clear about your needs and see how FineReport can help you and your organization transform data into value.

Book A Demo

Explore Other Resources

BI Tools | 11 min read
This post introduces the definition of business intelligence(BI) visualization and recommends 5 top bi visualization tools. Click to find out more.
Dashboard Tools | 7 min read
Both dashboard and report are widely use to aid companies. This article will help you distinguish between dashboards vs reports.
Dashboard Tools | 7 min read
Scorecards and dashboards are both important parts of business intelligence. Click to check how to choose scorecard vs dashboard.