Friday, February 4, 2011

File format for generating dynamic reports in applications

We generate dynamic reports in all of our business web applications written for .Net and J2EE. On the server side we use ActiveReports.Net and JasperReports to generate the reports. We then export them to PDF to send down to the browser.

Our clients all use Adobe Reader. We have endless problems with the different versions of Adobe Reader and how they are setup on the client.

What file format/readers are others using for their dynamic reports? We need something that allows for precise layout as many of the reports are forms that are printed with data from out systems. HTML is not expressive enough.

  • I've used SQL Reporting Services for this purpose. You can design a report template in Visual Studio or generate the XML for the report on the fly in code. You can then have SSRS export the report to about 10 different formats and send to the client including pdf, excel, html, etc. You can also write your own plugin to export to your own format.

    Crystal Reports has a similar product thats more expensive but has a better report designer.

  • I've always had the most success using PDFs to accomplish this. I can't think of a more universally acceptable format that does what you are trying to do. Rather than looking for another format, perhaps it would be better to try to understand how to overcome the problems that you are experiencing with Acrobat on the client side. Can you provide some more information on the types of problems that you are experiencing with Acrobat?

    From Joe Barone
  • Please keep in mind this is a business intranet application. We require that PDFs be opened in the browser so we know when they navigate away to ask them if the report printed correctly or if they would like to save the report on the server for later viewing/printing. This is a client setting that we have no control over. Also several different version combinations of IE and Reader do not play well together. Sometimes the pdf won't even open depending on client settings. But if you copy the pdf out of the temporary internet files and open directly, it works fine. Maybe this is more of an IE thing, but we are stuck with that problem.

  • I does know only 3(4) possible viewer(formats) for reporting in browser.

    • PDF
    • Flash
    • Java
    • (Silverlihgt)

    For all 3 there are reporting solutions. Silverlight are to new and I does not know a solution. You can test how flash and Java in your intranet work and then search a reporting solution. I think PDF should be made the few problems if you use the newest readers. The old readers has many bad bugs.

    From Horcrux7


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