Tuesday, October 12, 2004

SBL and .NET Reporting and Graphing Packages

I'm working feverishly on my project for the NET Bible folks to get ready for SBL this year, which I am very excited about. Right now I'm looking into some reporting and graphing software, and I figured somebody else might find my experience in this regard useful.

My goal, essentially, was the following:
1. I need a pdf generation tool that will allow me to make fancy charts and display lots of data well.
2. It needs to be relatively simple to interface with. I'm not interested in dealing with a complicated piece of software like Crystal Reports, which isn't all that good and I can't stand anyway.
3. I would really like the license to be per developer, rather than per server. I'd like to use this reporting stuff in different contexts and don't want to pay more money (since I don't really have any...)
4. It needs to work natively with .NET, which is what my system is built on.

At first I looked at Active Reports. It was easy to generate reports, and had a nice license. But, it doesn't generate fancy graphs, and I can't afford both something like Active Reports AND a graphing package. Now, their screenshots will make you think that they do fancy charts, but those look like they have to be imported. Bad advertising! Very disappointed here.

So, I figured I would turn to graphing packages. I first used Dundas Charts. I loved it. Absolutely thought it was great. It was also incredibly easy to use. But, didn't like the licensing scheme.

Then looked at ChartFX which looked really nice, like Dundas, but I didn't really get into it because of its licensing scheme. Bummer.

Then I found a graphing package that had a good license, Graphics Server. $900 and I could make graphs anywhere! Then I actually tried to use it. It does not have a terribly easy interface, certainly not as easy as Dundas. And a lot of the samples didn't work. And the documentation, I thought, was poor. Very unhappy with this solution.

OK. So, at this point I had made no progress, which is unfortunate giving the fact that there isn't that much time till SBL. So, I just gave up and got a pdf library called iTextSharp, found some sample code for generating chart images using GDI+ stuff, and that's how I'm doing it now. Wish there were a better way for someone with not much money to pay for licensing ("not much" == 0).

Of course, any recommendations are welcome!


At 12:59 PM, Blogger fire said...

thank you for your comment, good luck with your licence thing.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I'm just getting into charts with Active Reports and found they are easy to get started but I'm not sure they are as grandular as a charting-only package like dundas or Chart FX. I will know more in a few days.


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