RB Pain Points #3: Reporting Tools

Nearly everyone coming from the Visual Basic world finds this hole eventually.  It was perhaps the very first feedback I ‘voted on’ in the old RS feedback system.  It is also a consistent talking point with REALbasic developers and it made a strong showing in the ARBP 2008 Enhancements Survey.  Some things have changed, however, and it bodes well for the REALbasic community.

The venerable REALbasic reporting tool, On Target Reports, is still actively developed and is used by many RB developers.  However, I know just as many RB developers that are frustrated by long-standing bugs and lack of power features.  Personally, I’ve stopped trying to use OTR because every time I do it frustrates me.  Your mileage may vary, however, so I highly recommend giving it a try.  ARBP has an OTR tutorial in its source code repository.

There are several new comers to the scene that you should also think about them as well.  The first is RSReport from Roth Software.  RSReport is not a ‘banding’ report generator like OTR.  Each element (text, graphics, line, rectangle, etc) must be placed on the report at runtime.  Their demo application has several good examples of its reporting capabilities.  RSReport has several drawbacks:  the first is that it does not have a graphical report designer.  The second is that they don’t offer support for the reporting tool (though they have been responsive to support emails).  I recently did a review of RSReport in the ARBP Blogs and Opinions section and added a tutorial in the ARBP Source Code Repository.

Long-time REALbasic developer Andy Dent recently announced the release of RB ReportWriter.  It’s based on the reporting tool he developed for OOFile (an open-source C++ database).  It’s still young but Andy said to expect some big changes in the project soon because he’s using it for a current project.

Paradigma Software, producers of the database Valentina, have added a reporting tool to their Pro version.  Valentina Reports only works with the Valentina database, however, so it’s not quite as flexible as some of the other tools but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The Valentina database works with multiple languages, not just REALbasic, and for some developers that might be a huge bonus.  For Mac developers this is a great option because there just aren’t that many reporting tools for Mac OS X that work with Cocoa.  RB Developer had a review in a recent edition and ARBP has a review in the works.

Einhugur has recently announced that they will soon be previewing a reporting tool soon as well.  We have no other information than that currently but considering the quality work they’ve done in the past this is a good thing.

ARBP also added a Reporting specific topic in their forum (free registration required for access).  It might be a good resource as you start evaluating the reporting tools available to you.

We’ve been looking to Real Software to provide a solution for years.  Now, instead, developers have made their own.  RS still needs to beef up their printing support in REALbasic but it’s nice to know that RS doesn’t need to do everything themselves.

Obviously none of these solutions is integrated with the REALbasic IDE.  I’m not sure that it has to be or that it is even desirable now with the multiple solutions available.  If they did do their own reporting tool would it hurt more than it helped now?  Would that be a good Studio only option?

Needless to say I find this sudden explosion of options very exciting.  This says to me that these developers think REALbasic is doing well and that they can make some money in the reporting tools market.  People vote with their wallets even in hard economic times.  This pain point just received some relief.

What say you?