Reports generation is the process of using a tool for creating reports primarily for business users. To generate a report, you need to create a report definition, including what data to retrieve, where to get it, and how to display it.

Excel has been playing a role in generating reports in most companies for a long time.

However, many people have complained about how cumbersome and painful it is to use Excel to produce reports, especially when you have to produce regular reports such as daily, weekly, and monthly reports repeatedly.

Or your boss asks you for a report by tomorrow that you need to collect data from different departments, and you have to stay up late to combine these data to generate new reports.

Luckily, with the report generator, you will be liberated from repetitive work and overwork.

1. What is the report generator?

The report generation software is more professional and convenient in the process of generating reports than in Excel, from data entry to data display. For example, when you extract data from databases, you don’t need to write as much code as you would in an SQL database. Even non-technical users can retrieve data by a few clicks.

Besides, formulas such as YoY or MoM are built in the software, so you don’t need to enter formulas manually as you do in Excel.

2. The features of the report generator

As mentioned above, the report generator is more user friendly in every step in report generation. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the report generator’s features. Here, I would take FineReport‘s features as an example, which helped our work efficiency is at least 20 times higher than before.

report generator
  • Support extracting data from multiple data sources

Users can extract data from various data sources and combine them via report generators.

  • Works with real-time work

After setting up the templates and frequency of the daily, monthly, quarterly, annual report, the reports can be generated automatically and be sent to the set email address.

  • Support reusing templates

After completing a report template, other users can reuse it to generate reports. Dozens of stunning built-in templates cover various scenarios and industries.

  • Support reports exporting and printing

Users can export or print reports to Excel, PDF, CSV, or images.

  • Support view reports on the web or on mobile applications.

The modern report generator enables users to check the reports on the mobile anytime and anywhere.

3. Report generation process with report generators

So, how reports generators simplify the reports generation process?

When you use the report generators, you can choose two types of report generation process. One is the full-automatic generation, and the other is the semi-automatic generation.

3.1 Full-automatic generation– Based on the template 

Take the financial statistics as an example, which includes MoM, YoY, Ranking, and is highly frequently used. When you use report generators such as FineReport, templates of financial statics have been built inside, from indicators to the formulas, from titles to the formats. With the full-automatic generation, you only need to connect to your database and drag it to the corresponding cell.  

report generator

3.2 Semi-automatic generation– Use professional functions to generate each module automatically

Compared with full-automatic report generation, semi-automatic report generation is more common and can better meet users’ personalized needs.

Generally speaking, a complete report designing process can be divided into the following three steps:

1.Connect to databases: includes opening designers > configuring data sources > creating new reports > and configuring private data sources.

2.Design the reports: includes creating new reports> defining data sources> binding data columns> summarizing> and formatting reports.

3.Publish and browse reports: includes previewing reports, saving reports, publishing reports.

4. Popular report generators (report generation software)

From the perspective of programming language, there are two types of report generators: Java-based and non-Jave based.

Currently, with the increasing use of B/S structure, there is a growing demand for the 100% java reporting tools. From the perspective of the interface, there are Excel-like generators and canvas-like generators. Some software combines these two interface modes.

The following are the three most used report generators in the enterprise.

4.1 FineReport

report generation

FineReport is java-based reporting software with an Excel-like interface that supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.

It serves as enterprise reporting software same as Crystal Report and SSRS. You can see many companies are replacing Crystal reports, SSRS with FineReport, because of its modern features, mainly are data display and data entry.

FineReport provides three reporting types: general report, aggregation report and dashboards. The aggregation reports can deal with complex and irregular reports easily because each aggregation block is independent. And the charts provided by FineReport are stunning.

Besides, the data entry function as well as makes FineReport distinct. It makes it easy for end-users to input massive data via forms.

Free Download

4.2 Crystal Report


Crystal Report is a popular windows-based report writing application that allows a developer to create reports. The application allows you to connect to various data sources to obtain data such as SQL Server or Oracle as an example. 

Once you have connectivity to your data source, you design your reports by adding the fields from the database which are displayed from your data source and adding them to the report. 

Its three-pass system allows it to manage a hierarchy of calculations more efficiently, processing raw calculations (this field plus that field) first and aggregates later.

However, incorporating reports to webpages sometimes crashes, and it does not offer any free trial plan.

4.3 Sql Server Reporting Service( SSRS)


SSRS is a part of a suite of SQL server services. It offers a ‘Report Builder‘ tool for less technical users to format SQL reports of lesser complexity. In general, its reporting perspective is data reporting with simple charting. The canvas-based interface is very user-friendly for developers, where you can develop small to large scaling reports via adding reporting objects (tables, charts, text, images) to a blank canvas.

It comes out on top in advanced exporting and printing features such as footers, headers, watermarks, and page numbers.

However, the interactivity and data exploration may be limited since it lacks modern interactive chart visualizations. Besides, SSRS costs $1,859 per core for Standard or $7,128 per core for Enterprise edition. 

You can also use some professional generators specific in different formats, such as HTML report generator for HTML reports and excel report generator for creating reports from excel.

5. Report generation example

Note: The templates below are built-in FineReport. You can download FineReport to try more free templates.

Drill-down report

drill-down reports

Aggregation Report

Combo Tree Report

Query Report

Query report

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