Microsoft Visual Basic was an interesting tool looking for its purpose back when it shipped for Windows 3.0 in 1991 (and DOS in 1992!); it took the later appearance of Crystal Reports to turn it into a serious business tool. Although it has been acquired a few times since the early days, many people see it as the only solution for Windows reports development.
But what if you develop on Linux, or Mac OS X? What if you need a reporting system that runs natively on all major operating systems and every major development environment?
Narrowing Scope: Platform Specific Reports
A general development environment isn’t where you are going to find a powerful reporting solution. The environments from OS vendors have to implement every critical new API.
Then you have development system vendors who differentiate themselves from what the big guys are offering. For example, development tools like the open source LiveCode, which have a unique paradigm and a language that’s approachable by non-developers. Another is Xojo, which has been likened to a cross-platform more object oriented Visual Basic.
On these types of platforms, you often end up with reporting systems that are only usable with those specific development systems – forms and components that are entirely native constructions.
For the vendors of those tools, they rarely do better than pay for themselves because only a fraction of the users of the development system will actually buy them.
Consider a platform of 120,000 active, money spending developer / customers – how many of these can the reporting system vendor realistically capture and maintain, and so afford to keep updating and upgrading the reporting system? That’s why so many who produce them tend to be one-man shops, with irregular ability to provide timely technology updates.
If you are building infrastructural applications – even if you yourself are a one-man shop – should consider carefully if your reporting system could disappear after one bacon-cheeseburger inspired heart attack.
When Java Needs to Stay in the Cup
Then you run up against the problem of users eventually wanting to branch out beyond those platforms. We just saw that a reporting system that was built in and runs natively in Xojo isn’t going to be available for building Objective-C applications with Apple Xcode.
This problem is marketed by some vendors as solvable with a Java based solution, maybe with some sort of bridge. Unless your application is already a Java application, then is that really anything other than a workaround?
Valentina Reports on MacOS X
So where does that leave us? Here are some qualifications you should think about for your project:
- Reports runtime runs natively on my operating system of choice
- Reports runtime has a native driver that works with my development environment
- Reports projects can be used with other runtimes for other operating systems and development environments
- It isn’t a Java solution UNLESS I build the application in Java
If you develop for MacOS X, you also think about the vendor’s perspective on Mac development. You know that Apple regularly updates MacOS, and that creates uncertainty for MacOS developers in a way that Windows only developers do not quite understand. You might even want to add to your wishlist of qualifications the following:
- Solution provider has a track record of maintaining tools over years of Apple updates to MacOS
If you want all of these, then there really is only one solution, and its better at doing that very thing than Crystal Reports.
Valentina Reports ADK is a reports runtime system licensed by platform for royalty free distribution. Build reports projects in Valentina Studio Pro, then deploy them in your application with the ADK. The same reports are scalable for use with Valentina Server.