10 Bad Things About Reporting Services 2008 R2

  • First let me say that I have cursed at Crystal Reports myself on more than one occasion and have been frustrated by some of its issues. That said I can say that between Crystal Reports and SSRS, Crystal Reports “Banded” approach to report design is much more designer friendly then SSRS’s table approach. The “object” based approach to report design used by SSRS may be more appealing to the traditional coder who likes the way that SSRS’s Table will automatically align items but the banded method used by Crystal is (IMHO) more designer friendly.

    When Microsoft created SSRS and decided to go with the “Object” method to report design I was very surprised since its own Office Access product which has a Report Designer uses the banded approach to report design. After having worked with each for years now I find Crystal to still be the better overall product because of its “banded” approach to design. In addition to the banded versus object method of report design I also find it much easier to do a document or letter style report in Crystal then SSRS and I imagine I am not the only one who feels this way.

    I can see where someone with traditional programming skills who has never worked with a report designer that uses the Banded approach would find SSRS satisfying but I doubt that those who have used report designer in the past like Crystal that uses the banded approach will find SSRS to be on par with Crystal. That’s sad too because I was very excited about SSRS when I first heard about it and still to this day would like very much to switch over to SSRS form Crystal but can’t because of the limitations in SSRS for non-table style reports like documents, letters, notices, contracts and so on.

    Do any of you who have to create or modify document/letter style reports and who have worked with Crystal and SSRS, do you find it easier, harder or the same to do non-table style reports in SSRS as in Crystal Reports?

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  • YSLGuru (2/10/2012)

    Do any of you who have to create or modify document/letter style reports and who have worked with Crystal and SSRS, do you find it easier, harder or the same to do non-table style reports in SSRS as in Crystal Reports?

    I like both of them... I like the tablix construct. I just wish I had the report body work in banded mode.

    I liked having variables that were identified as such in crystal vs expressions hidden everywhere in SSRS. CR's variables were easy to find, and could be fairly complex, and could just do more.

    CR's Crosstabs also supported more aggregate functions (Mode, Median, Std Dev) vs the Sum/Avg/Count/Min/Max that SSRS has.

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  • I worked in Crystal 8.5, I can't speak for newer versions... and I work in SSRS 2005, and 2008/2008R2. I live SSRS reports better than Crystal. I like the Expression better than Crystal variables, and I like the fact that I can add new functions to my SSRS reports by embedding VB.NET code inside the report.

    BUT... I don't like the TABLIX in 2008. I like the way 2005 handles it better... If I want a Table I want a Table, and if I want a Matrix, I want a Matrix. I don't want some bastard hybrid.... Sorry Microsoft, but I think you got that one wrong.

    I like the properties of objects because its consistent with Access, VB, etc. But, I think they could be easier to use, especially when you want to update a specific property(s) of a group of objects all at once...

    SSRS is more open to users to extend with custom code and add-ins. Crystal is not so open or friendly in that regard.

    I also like that the code of RDL reports is easily readable, and an open specification that anyone can use.

    So having worked in a dozen different report writers over the years, I can say that I like SSRS best of all.. despite how infuriating it can be at times....

  • I completely agree with all 10 points!! All-in-all, Crystal Reports XI, with all its own faults and failings, is a much better and (surprisingly!) more intuitive product.

    I sure hope SSRS eventually matures to the point where it is a real contender to completely replace Crystal Reports, though. However, looking at what's "new" in SSRS 2012, that's a long ways off, as the "new" features don't even help propel SSRS towards feature parity or competition between features with regards to Crystal Reports.

    I know SSRS is not Crystal Reports and that SSRS should not "mirror" Crystal Reports to be a "copy-cat" product, however, let's face it, Crystal Reports is the dominant reporting software that is in use and, as such, has many features that report writers depend on using--and which are intuitive and easy to use (for the most part). To win over the Crystal fans, MS is going to have to put a lot more thought into the UI and usability experience of this product.

    Craig E. Shea
    Microsoft Certified Professional

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