Crystal Reports: Alternatives and Comparison with FineReport
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 dynamic reports.
SAP acquired Crystal Reports in 2007. The latest version released is Crystal Reports 2016.
Crystal Report 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 charts, and print function. Another is BI software such as Tableau and PowerBI. Compared to reporting tools, they can realize data forecast thanks to OLAP analysis and data mining technologies.
Compare Crystal Reports and FineReport
Next, let’s talk about the comparison between Crystal Report and FineReport since FineReport has occupied a large market share in the reporting tools area in recent years.
Comparison between Crystal Reports and FineReport – The Convenience of the Designer
Support multiple data sources
FineReport supports various data sources (sets). The data of the same report can be extracted cross 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 via various ways, including direct connection to the database via JDBC, sharing database connection with the application server via JNDI, or connect to the SAP system via JCO.
Grouping adjustment and incomplete grouping
Grouping report data is the most common method for reporting. The grouped report in the FineReport is based on the cell. Therefore, operations such as removing grouping and changing grouping fields only require operations on cells, regardless of data in the Report. Besides, in many cases, the data is not entirely grouped, but in the form of fixed columns or segments. FineReport provides user-defined grouping. You only need to add some conditions to realize irregular grouping.
All data is divided into strip-shaped models in Crystal Report. Therefore, when deleting a group, the related grouping cells will be deleted at the same time. To adjust the grouping field, you need to remove and reconstruct it. The whole operation is cumbersome and will cause repeated work. Besides, in Crystal Reports, the irregular group only supports modifying the group name. Other calculations based on the data can not be changed.
Data expansion and Cross-reports
The data expansion of the FineReport is bidirectional, that is, the rows and columns are symmetrical, and the horizontal and vertical expansion capabilities are consistent. It is convenient to make cross-reports (multi-layer), and complex table headers can be made like in column reports.
Crystal Reports uses a particular cross-tab model to create cross-reports. The table header is automatically generated according to the wizard. Therefore, it lacks the flexibility to some extent.
In complex reports, it is very common to divide the Report into multiple fragments. That is, the entire Report is a massive regular report, but it can be divided into numerous irregular small areas. 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.
The single-table model of Crystal Reports cannot support sharding. 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.
Cross-row group operation
It is often necessary to have cross-row group calculations in the Report, such as MoM, YoY. In FineReport, the dynamic calculations between cells can conveniently realize the ranking, YoY, MoM, the proportion, the cumulative, and other operation cross row and group.
Crystal Report only supports specific fixed cross-row calculations, such as cumulative value. To realize more complex cross-row calculation, you need to write codes and prepare data in advance.
Comparison between Crystal Reports and FineReport – Display of the Reports
The interface of FineReport is similar to Excel. The grid-aligned editing method makes it convenient to design and output reports. Plus, the attributes of the cell are flexible. So it is easy to generate complex reports.
In Crystal Reports, you need to drag and drop the control to draw reports. When the header is complicated, to align the reports is very cumbersome. Besides, it will be affected by the resolution, so the aligned forms on the screen sometimes cannot be aligned on the web page and when printing.
Input and Output
FineReport supports import Excel files in batches so that you can empower your historical data conveniently. The generated reports 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 it next time.
Crystal Report only supports extracting data from Excel rather than importing Excel files. 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.
FineReport uses the base drawing, and absolute positioning to complete the drawing of the reports tyle 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.
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.
FineReport provides complete print control; it forces pagination by grouping or any other means and also makes up the empty rows. When paging, the title can be repeated. Data can be freely divided into columns. Long reports can be divided into columns and displayed into multiple columns.
Crystal Reports generally can only support the top header repeat. The reports can not realize forced paging, make up the blank line, column, and other operations.
Comparison between Crystal Reports and FineReport- 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.
FineReport provides various widget types for data entry such as text, drop-down box, date, File, and so on.
Comprehensive data validation
The designer would check the data validation when submitting according to your settings, which ensures the correctness of the data forms.
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.
Smart temporary storage
The smart temporary storage would help avoid data loss due to the accidents.
FineReport can quickly realize the process of data reporting, approval, and return.
Comparison between Crystal Reports and FineReport- Deployment, and Integration
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.
FineReport provides clear structures and rich APIs for programmers to customize.
Crystal Report adopts stand-alone servers; application interfaces are implemented by using network protocols. The number of interfaces is small and seriously affects performance.
FineReport is a pure JAVA software which can be seamlessly integrated with JAVA projects. C/S system and page integration are realized through embedded browser controls and iframe. The HTML generated by FineReport can be added to the JSP page easily.
Crystal Reports have its own portal rules. It is challenging to integrate the reports with the web.
Comparison between Crystal Reports and FineReport-Data visualization and Dashboard
FineReport provides more than 19 categories, 50+ styles HTM charts, with stunning dynamic interactive effects. Based on WebGL and other platforms, FineReport also supports rich data maps with 3D visualization effects. Therefore, compared to the Crystal Report, the dashboard made by FineReport is more impressive.
In the end