I Love End User Report Designers...NOT!

Thinking Out Loud
26 March 2008

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away...I, like many of you, had to create reports for my end-users. Let me tell ya, I hated it. No matter what I spec'd and built, it was never enough. Eventually, I reverted to shipping an end-user report designer with the hope of reducing my headaches, but of course, that did not happen. A report designer in the hands of the average Joe spells trouble and a ton of questions I had no time to answer. Thankfully, I no longer see nightmares about all the reports I had left to complete...

Over the years, I've talked to many developers at tradeshows and user group events and have come to the conclusion that I'm not the only one who hates creating reports. Conversation at these events usually goes something like this. "Hey, do you guys make a reporting tool?" Yes, we do. "Do you guys have an end-user report designer?" Yes, we do. Then I ask...Do you like to create reports? "No, I hate it." Do your users understand how to create their own reports with the report designer. "No, they don't but we still ship it regardless."

Once we've established our mutual disgust of the report creation process, I usually point people to something I wish I had those many years ago - a way in which to bring my UI to the printed page and in so doing address a large number of report requests from my end-users. Before I continue, I want to state that the approach I'm about to describe in no way eliminates the value of an industrial strength reporting tool like XtraReports - there are countless reports that only a reporting tool can address....and I'm thankful our team has been able to deliver a high quality reporting tool to market....

Getting back to the conversation - at this point, I usually start our demo application and go to one of our XtraGrid Suite demos.

XtraGrid Client App

I spend a few minutes sorting/grouping/summarizing/customizing the contents of the grid - things that end-users can learn quite quickly. Then I select the Print and Export To menu item and press Print Preview. After a couple of additional customizations, such as specifying the shrink to fit option and entering header/footer info, they see the following:

Grid Rendered to Paper

Quick and Easy - the UI (which can be customized by the end user) that we spend so much time creating rendered to paper.

Moving forward, I then start our PivotGrid demo...

PivotGrid Client Application

Make a few changes within the UI and select the Print Preview option again

PivotGrid Rendered to Paper

At this point, my mind usually travels back in time recalling the nightmares I had in my past life...Oh well, I keep telling myself that I'm a better person for the pain I endured.

Now, I know that many of our existing customers are doing these very things and exploiting the XtraPrinting System and rendering their UI to the printed page. For those of you at the product evaluation stage, don't forget to select the Print Preview option from our demos and see if the XtraPrinting System can help you address the needs of your users more effectively (and far more quickly).

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