When it comes to desktop and web-based report design tools, there are dozens of options. There are many different choices, ranging from the simplest of report generation tools to very complex data visualization suites. When it comes to .NET reporting tools specifically, an effective platform offers a combination of simplicity and power. A perfect designer should be straight-forward, easy to use, and give you complete control of your .NET reports – without the hassles of a steep learning curve, complex documentation, or a hefty price tag.

A perfect designer should be straight-forward, easy to use, and give you complete control of your .NET reports – without the hassles of a steep learning curve, complex documentation, or a hefty price tag.

With .NET reporting tools, trying to balance the ease and accessibility of a great report designer with its power and capabilities can be a challenge. Many companies fall to one side or the other, producing a .NET reporting platform that caters to only non-technical end users or power-user developers. This balance of accessibility and power is difficult to achieve, but ActiveReports Developer has reached this equilibrium with its stand-alone End User Designer and the Visual Studio integrated designer which simplifies .NET reporting to meet the varying needs of diverse report authors.

When looking for the perfect .NET reporting solution to design meaningful reports, there are quite a few factors you must take into consideration when evaluating your options. Naturally, these considerations are determined by your specific use case.

Here are a few key elements of a .NET report designer that are essential to create robust and meaningful .NET reports.

1.) Data visualization in .NET reporting

Data visualizations are arguably the most important aspect of a .NET report designer, as they drive the aesthetic and act as the foundation of the story behind the data. They are a crucial element in the process of transforming your data into a visually appealing source of information. With ActiveReports, you have a complete set of data visualization controls, including:

  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Tablix
  • Barcodes
  • Maps
  • Table of Contents
  • Calendars
  • Subreports
  • BandedLists
  • RichTextBoxes

Use these data visualization controls to create complete .NET reports, ensuring an eye-catching aesthetic and meaningful data representations!

Data visualization in .NET reporting

2.) Allow users to create reports with custom .NET report designers

For those who need to create custom .NET report designers, users can create a custom end-user report designer in the Visual Studio-integrated designer. Custom .NET report designers provide the capability to customize the designer UI with granular control over user actions and control functionality. With ActiveReports, you can easily embed royalty-free, customizable .NET report viewers into your applications to give your users endless features, such as:

  • Table of Contents
  • Thumbnails
  • Drill down interactivity
  • Parameters
  • Annotations
  • More!

Data visualization in .NET reporting

3.) Design reports without a learning curve with ongoing technical support

When it comes to finding the best .NET reporting solution, you don't want a tool that comes with a steep learning curve. With a perfect reporting solution comes certain ease of use when designing reports. ActiveReports prides itself on being an accessible, yet powerful, .NET reporting tool. With the designer’s drag-and-drop controls the stand-alone report designer, non-technical, and technical end-users can build a report suited to their needs -- in a matter of minutes.

Data visualization in .NET reporting

Developers building reports in the Visual Studio-integrated designer experience a familiar UI and integrated tooling, with the Visual Studio menus, toolbox and toolbars, property grid, and even IntelliSense and context-sensitive help!

Code-behind events using Visual Studio in the programming languages VB.NET and C# which allows for endless possibilities, such as:

  • Dynamically added controls and fields
  • Manipulation of data
  • Changing of format
  • And more

This not only saves you money but makes your job easier! Additionally, when designing reports, the user experience is smooth with a consistent look and feel, regardless of the report type. For users who have questions or prefer to do their research before jumping into reporting, the ActiveReports documentation is thorough (yet simple) and covers a diversity of topics.

Can't find what you are looking for in our documentation? You can find additional topics in our community forums or users can submit support tickets to our quick and responsive support staff, 24/5.

4.) Different report types for different use cases

When creating reports, you shouldn’t be limited in what types of reports you can create. You should have the freedom and ability to create the type of reports you need to get the most out of your reporting solution. Most .NET reporting solutions limit report authors to either RDL reports or Section reports.

With ActiveReports, you can create RDL reports and Section reports, but there’s more! We also grant users the ability to design a third, unique report type with Page reports! Each report type has different usages, allowing report authors to take full advantage of the endless possibilities at their fingertips when designing reports with ActiveReports. Use Page reports for a fixed, page-level report layout where what you see is what you get, giving you total control over where your data goes!

When you’re not sure how much data the report will have, or where it should go, use RDL reports to act as a continuous report that will grow and shrink as needed! Or, if you want to control detailed aspects of the report’s behavior through code, use Section reports to drive the report using code-behind events! While other .NET reporting solutions limit your report types, ActiveReports puts you in total control to help you achieve more with your reporting.

.NET Report Types

5.) Best .NET reporting customer service

It is quite often that users need features that we had not thought to add into ActiveReports. Unlike most .NET reporting solutions, the ActiveReports team does not brush off feature requests from existing customers. Instead, we take these requests, analyze the feasibility of them, and implement them as soon as they can be finished through hotfixes and service packs. You can see a prime example of this through our ActiveReports 12 Service Pack 1 Release Notes.

Customers have been asking for additional enhancements and features, and we’ve been more than happy to accommodate through enhancements of:

  • Charts
  • CrossSectionBox
  • Maps
  • Shapes

New features such as:

  • Unlimited related datasets from different data sources
  • CSV and JSON export
  • Subreport support in Page reports
  • New barcodes
  • Installation without Visual Studio required
  • Section report to RDL report converter

Anytime a user needs a feature, we always keep an open mind to determine how to make it work, so we can provide the best possible experience with ActiveReports.

Don’t just take it from us! See what others have had to say about their experience with ActiveReports:

- “I have been a huge fan of ActiveReports since version 1.0 and VB6. It has been my favorite reporting tool to use ever since. I really like the code-behind event-driven model and how flexible it is for unique reporting requirements.” -Ralph Corigliano, CEO, Executive Support Systems
- “I appreciate all that GrapeCity has done to maintain and extend AR and look forward to many years of continuous use of ActiveReports.” -Chris Barker, Developer, Barks N Bytes, LLC
- “The uniqueness of the ActiveReports products have helped to boost our sales which is always a good thing.” -Wendy Mathis, Software Engineer, Knowledge Relay
- “After a thorough evaluation of a number of reporting products, we decided to purchase ActiveReports by GrapeCity. The report designer in ActiveReports is the easiest to use. This is the most significant reason we chose ActiveReports, and we have saved a large amount of time. ActiveReports provides an array of rich printing settings and offers accurate print control, therefore meeting our needs. Easy to use, rich functions, strong interaction, good performance, stable running and effective technical support are what we love most about ActiveReports.” -YuWang, Program Manager, Liao Ning Ju-long Financial Equipment Co. Ltd.

All of these critical elements are necessary when researching the best .NET report designer (ActiveReports has them all). Give us a try!

Download a free trial of ActiveReports today.

ActiveReports helps .NET developers in many industries, including: design accounting, analytical, budget, risk analysis, scientific, calendar, scorecard, insurance, healthcare, clinical, stock analysis, and other business environments create reports for their applications.