The Basics of Reporting Software

Reporting software basically presents data in required format and in a summarized manner as desired. The reports are then used for further analysis. There are several types available with some very useful and intelligent features. Open source programs like Eclipse BIRT Project, Jasper Reports, Pentaho, and others are easily available in the market. Crystal Reports, Actuate, CodeForms, LogiXML, and Oracle XML Publisher, among many others are also commercially available.

Typicaly, you can design a format, define data fields that are to be displayed, and create a layout for the report. Layout and format are two very important aspects of reporting software, as the data displayed should be easily readable, properly structured, and printable. This software always works in association with the database, quite obviously because that is where the data for reports would come from. Once the basic designing is completed, some amount of programming needs to be done as per the requirements of the report.

The following features will help you in appropriately selecting the right software suitable to your reporting needs:

  • Database connectivity – ensure that the program works effectively with all leading databases like Ms SQL, Ms-Access, Oracle, MySQL, and so on. It is always useful if the software can work with Ms-Excel, and flat files as well.
  • Lesser need of technical expertise – it should be easy to use so that personnel with little technical knowledge of databases can also operate it. Built-in features of query builder, mathematical formulae, grouping, sorting, and filtering operations will make the user comfortable and generate reports without having to write SQL queries or other coding.
  • Complex report generation – the report wizard should allow complex reports to be generated with little efforts. It should allow quick formatting, embedding other objects, accessing data of other reports, and so on.
  • Present reports in a graphical manner – apart from presenting the data in text format, the reporting software should also be able to generate graphical reports displaying graphs and charts.
  • Exporting capability – allows the reports to be exported to other formats like Excel, PDF, XML, HTML, and others.
  • Emailing and Publishing – the reports should be published at one single click so that they can be immediately viewed. The reports can be published at some online location or the same can be emailed directly to desired users or user groups.
  • Security – the reporting software should facilitate defining users and user groups which will have rights to access and view particular reports.

It is very necessary to consider the above parameters while selecting reporting software, as the right choice will simplify your reporting needs to a significant extent.

Jeff Smith is the managing director of Karma Technologies and feels strongly about implementing ways to be green into their business practices, to a point they are almost a paper-free company.

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