Reporting tools have grown to become more comprehensive and visually informative than what they used to be. The way these reports are created has also seen a lot of changes over the years. There are solutions available that allow you to simply design your report in a visual editor without bothering about the underlying code that works behind the scenes. We take up one such reporting solution here. It has a free version called Logi Report and a commercial package called Logi Info.
Both Logi products come with impressive capabilities, allowing you to create reports in diverse formats that include charts and graphs, complex multiple reports, and even allow creation of drill down reports as well as multi-layer and drill down charting. The latest builds also include, amongst other features AJAX enabled components and support for Ad-hoc reporting and OLAP. The only difference is with respect to the components that are provided. For example Processes and Analysis Grids are available with Logi Info, but not with Logi Report.
Your database should support ADO.NET, OLEDB or ODBC in order to work with this solution. As these are pretty common standards, you won't face issues while connecting the solution to a wide variety of databases.
This has a standard multi panel layout with panels for displaying components, project files, suggestions, attributes or properties of components being currently used. You can develop reports and publish the solution to IIS all from these panels.
Any newly created report application has four parts-Definition File, Report Header, Body and Footer. Once the skeletal structure is ready, you can design your report on the fly by clicking through the elements and selecting properties as required. We were impressed by Logi Studio's ability to give you neat reports on the fly. The info panel contains a find tab that allows you to search for the component you are looking for. It's a pretty handy feature if you get caught up during report creation when looking up components. The basic methodology remains constant no matter what you are developing using the studio. It's all about drag/drop working and setting values for the attributes of elements added. That's not all. You have a drag and drop query editor and a free style-sheet editor as well to ease out these tasks.
|The Query Editor allows quick editing and verification of queries with options to create any simple or complex query|
This is a really interesting feature, allowing you to create a web service based reporting application on the fly. The process is pretty easy. We created a connection to a web service component and then, as usual, the exercise left was designing the report body. Even while creating slightly more complex applications such as analysis grids or even OLAP grids, the resultant is always an application to be hosted on IIS.
This component is only available with Logi Info. For designing the grid we used a sample database from MSDN, running on SQL Server 2005. The complex grid is also straight forward. It has a property called 'AJAX pages', which if set to 'true' enables asynchronous page updation. Once the grid and its child elements are in place, you can set individual properties for each of the 'Analysis Grid Column' components added, including enabling filters, aggregation, and similar functions that might be used once the analysis grid comes into play. You can also add 'Actions' to these columns that define user interactivity over the component.
Logi's OLAP components are pretty handy for creating OLAP solutions with a web based front-end. Here again it will not feel like a crucial battle trying to get in grips with the components and their usage. As much to anybody's pleasure they also retain the same model as any simpler or complex component in Logi products.
|The analysis grid can be created quickly using drag-drop and attribute value editing to give AJAX enabled components over the web for high interactivity|
You can almost get started in a zap with the OLAP grid as you need to define just the data layers, followed by MDX Query or expressions and then pick up the existing cube for the source. If that sounds too easy to believe you can check out the OLAP sample on their web-site for an initial look.
Light weight modeling of components throughout the different product lines and a uniform easy to use studio makes both these products a good option.