4/19/2012

SSRS vs. Crystal Reports

Not all reporting tools are created equal.

Well, maybe they are, but I don't believe it's so.

I started off with Crystal Reports version 5 in 1996.

That was the latest version back then.

I learned Crystal Reports in a day, from a contractor from St. Louis, who answered all my questions.

And then I was the Reporting guy for NationsBank.

They also had a product back then called Crystal Info, which was a scheduling mechanism to deploy reports.

That product is still in production today, under a different name, Business Objects.

I found that Crystal Reports is a great tool for generating quick reports.

You can add complexity to the reports, but only so far.

Back in the day, we had to manually keep track of running totals using Variables, and then set the Variable to zero in the Group you wanted to keep track of.

This was time consuming and labor intensive.

This got corrected in later versions, and the new programmers never knew how difficult it was back in the day.

Seagate Software used to have a preferred Help Desk support line I called many times around 1998.

By calling this 800 #, your call was automatically pushed to the front of the queue.

They had cool music on the phone, and you could actually change the music genre.

They eventually did away with the 800 # over time.

Crystal Report changed with each version, but the basic concepts stayed the same.

That's how I was able to jump versions over time and not have to really re-learn anything.

However, all of a sudden, Business Objects appeared with Universes and I kind of got left behind over night.

Around the same time I learned Microsoft SQL-Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

To be honest, first time I viewed the SSRS web, I thought it was primitive and child like.

Sure you could create reports in BIDS or embed them in .net, similar to Crystal Reports.

You could create sub-reports, same as Crystal Reports.

However, the introduction of multiple Data Sets is far superior.

The formula syntax was easy to use.

The ability to program in a pseudo .net environment was cool.

The ability to deploy reports, set permissions, view the report execution logs, schedule reports via the Subscriptions in Email or Network Folders, etc.

The list goes on and on.

I've been out of Crystal Reports for over a year now.

I don't really miss it.

The fact that SSRS is free with SQL-Server, has the backing of one of the largest Software Company's in the world, it's part of the complete Microsoft Business Intelligence suite of products, I find it far superior than Crystal Reports.

However, if a contract requires me to program in Crystal Reports, Actuate, whatever, I'm not against it.

I just have a preference for SSRS.

That's all I'm saying!

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