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.

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 Report 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 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 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 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 them.

Apart from supporting mainstream databases, Crystal Report also supports OLAP, Web Service, Salesforce, etc.

Crystal Report support mainstream databases
Crystal Report support 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 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.

FineReport support multiple data sources

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 import 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 applies a canvas-style interface where you can design the structure of the report. You can place various elements on the canvas as you want. I personally like this free drawing experience. However, when the report is complicated, aligning the reports is kind of 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.

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 deshboard

Why is it more recommended to have two design interfaces?

With an Excel-like interface, 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.

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, a variety of charts, controls, tables and other components can be placed arbitrarily.

Canvas style Interface (FineReport)

2. Comparisons on Report-making

2.1 Grouping Adjustment & 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.

You can group the data in Crystal Report according to different criteria. 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. 

2.2 Data Expansion & 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 flexibility to some extent. 

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 sharding 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, YoY growth calculation. In FineReport, the dynamic calculations between cells can conveniently realize the ranking, YoY, MoM, the proportion, the cumulative, and other operations cross row and group.

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

Download FineReport

3. Comparison on 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 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.

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4. Data visualization and Dashboard 

4.1 Charts

CrystalReports provides various statistical charts and 3D charts.

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

Crystal Report Alternative
Interactive Dashboard

4.2 Maps

Both Crystal Report 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 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. Comparison on 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 box, date, File, and so on.

Data Entry
FineReport provides various widget for report desiners

5.2 Automatic Calculation 

Forms support the automatic calculation that 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 Report 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 the accidents. 

5.6 Multi-level Reporting

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

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6. 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 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. 

Easy Deployment and Integration
FineReport Support Seamless Integration

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

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7. Comparison on Colaborate, Administration and Share

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

In the end

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

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 to transform data into value.

Book a Free Demo

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