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Question about Oracle Reports.

JDN asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2011-09-20
Hi Oracle Experts,

I have a question about the use of Oracle Reports in combination with an Oracle Forms application.

In another topic on this forum I asked a question about a Forms program that has been developed for my company and where the developer used ms-word (using a Dos batch) to print the documents (mainly invoices, packing coupons, that kind of stuff) from this application. Some of you experts told me that this is a low quality solution because Oracle Forms seamlessly integrates with Oracle Reports.

We asked the developer to change his ms-word printing solution in an Oracle Reports printing solution. This developer however states that this is very unwise because Oracle Reports is mend to produce complex reports, and that it is overkill to use it for printing invoices, packing coupons, etc. He told us he should rewrite his application completely. Also, he was very annoyed (he asked us what kind of "experts" dare to twist with is solutions...!?).

I myself don't know Oracle Reports, so I cannot judge his statement. I've done these things before in a Delphi/SQL Server application using Crystal Reports, a perfect combination. I think the ms-word printing solution is a poor solution, even for printing invoices I guess.

Can you experts give me you opinion about this Oracle Reports question? Should this developer best use Oracle Reports, perhaps Crystal Reports, or is ms-word all right (I doubt)? If Oracle Reports is the best solution here, what are the arguments?

Thanks for any comment.


Watch Question

with oracle reports u can write any queries and create a report from ordinary to complex types. each and every query is supported by oracle reports unlike crystal reports which does not support the advanced features like unions, intersections, minus etc., and many functions like to_char for exp: is not supported by crystal reports. so its better to use oracle products. moreover oracle forms and reports can be called within a same appication is anoter advantage and u can also work out in 3-tier architecture also with these two. if u dont can u send the coding of how to use ms-word to print this, how u send data from oracle forms to ms-word.
Oracle Reports is a GUI tool, for quick formating the output.also there is no point that this is for complex queries ..this is for any kind of query.

you can invoke reports from the forms also,  will give the feesibility to users to print the documents from that screen itself.

In Oracle reports, u can set the parameters also for printing the documents, means the user would be able to print or see the result on the screen for earlier documents also.

at last, using integrated technology is always better then using the third party patch up's. i am surprised to listen that u are using word for printing the invoicing from a oracle database , using dos batch ...??

i do not know, how u r using the application , i am assuming that u are having oracle database based sales invoicing pkg and the suggestions are based on this.


Top Expert 2008

Yes, the experts are right. But:
1. Nevertheles it is possible and aceptable to put simple output in .txt or .word files and to print them.
2. Oracle Reports is excellent tool but it is not so easy to learn how to work with them. I know many programmers who succeed to learn only Oracle Forms and fear to learn Reports. I personally have trained people familiar with Forms to work with Reports and it takes about a month to become medium level programmer. The conclusion is that asking somebody to work with Reports you have to pay extra. Oracle also pays. E.g. with 4 certifications exams you will get only 1 certification. But if you pass Oracle Reports exam 1Z0-123 you will get 2 certifications and I did this in September.
3. The power of Reports is in the excelent formating of the output, the power of Reports Server which makes possible to schedule Reports in time bactch jobs, the possibility to get the report in bitmap, ASCII, pdf, RTF, HTML formats and even automatically to mail it. Also using Reports Server it is asy to populate reports on the WEB.



What would you advise?
The program, as I mentioned, is a Forms application used for inventory, ordering, purchase, etc. Printed documents from the Oracle database are not that complex (e.g. invoices, packing coupons).
Now when the users press a print button nothing happens on his screen, no print dialog, no hourglass cursor, and no messages. On the server however, there is a Dos batch running that is executing ms-word for this job. A very poor solution I think.

First of all, we would like a normal Windows print dialog is started when the user clicks any print button. Besides that, we wish to manage all template documents used by this application in an easy way, so that any adaption (changing the borderlines, the font, moving the logo, etc.) can easily be made.

I understood (from other reactions) that Oracle Reports is the best way to do this. So we suggested the developer to change his poor solution for an Oracle Reports solution, as I mentioned he told us that was a bad idea.

Can you, as Oracle Forms/Reports expert, tell me how you would implement the printing solution in an application of this kind?

the solution is not so difficult, i would suggest u to use oracle reports (as u have told that u r using oracle database and forms as frontend), u can think of using it on pre printed stationary as well as totaly document design inclusing graphics in your reports i.e. company logo etc.

I do not think, it is difficult rather it is easier to learn (except the initial layout designing according the format u want to print). Once u will start using oracle report designer, u will find it much easier.


Top Expert 2008

I will definitely and only use ORACLE REPORTS version 6i.

The problem you have is that it seems that your good guy has no enough experience in Oracle Forms. The right solution is not to kick him out. Give him the chance to grow up.

1. An excelent intro in Reports (version 2.5) could be find in the book
  Developing Client/Server Applications with Oracle Developer/2000, Paul Hipsley,  SAMS
I began from this book and now am double OCP.

2. Find a copy from Oracle Students Gude : "Developer/2000: Build Reports, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2". Even 43211GC10 for Reports 3.0 is excellent. I succedd to pass the OCP exam for Reports 6i using this book. The Oracle Certified Trainers have also .pdf versions of this books.

3. If you are lucky and resident of U.S.A. ( am not) in every good bookstore or in Internet you can find a plenty of books about Oracle Reports.


Joseph Schwertner

Oracle Reports is similar to Crystal Reports. I would choose Oracle Reports nad as you are already using an Oracle Database and Oracle Forms I certainly would choose Oracle Reports. To me interfacing to Oracle Reports is would be easier than interfacing to MS Word.

As the reports are not "too dificult" then I assume the reports could be easily knocked up using the Report Wizard.

To be honest JDN, it sounds like you could write a better complete solution yourself. Even if you only have a go at the reporting side of it I'd download Oracle Reports and have a play with it. It will give you stronger poistion when talking to your supllier.
Top Expert 2008

I agree with mohit_bhatnagar. Use the Report Wizard of Reports. A week hard work is enough to learn how to construct simple reports.

One warning. In Reports the MAIN ISSUE is how to construct the SQL query and to decide how many queries will one use -one or two linked queries. The queries have to be tested very careful against the real DB. If the query is correct it takes an hour to produce the report. But if the query is not relevant the only real way is to begin from scratch. Practically reports do not like changes nevertheles Oracle says that one can use the Wizards in reentrant mode. Also keep the history of every report - it is easy to destroy it and the best way in such case is to begin from the saved version.
I can imagine the hesitance of your developer for using Reports. I'am a triple OCP and still I feel some hesitance when i have to build reports (although technically it's the best solution, like my fellow experts above suggested).

Maybe you can offer the developer an alternate suggestion.
Still using his old MS-word templates, but remove Word from the database host (improving security and performance on that machine.) instead, given that on every client-machine Word is installed, use the standard forms-build-in's to communicate with Word:

win_api_dialog.select_printer for popping up printer dialogs
OLE2-package to use COM/OLE/ADO/whatever to create a word-object (document) and fill it with data, selected from the server.
Examples are everywhere on the net like:

  MyApplication  :=OLE2.CREATE_OBJ('Word.Application');
  OLE2.SET_PROPERTY(MyApplication, 'Visible', 1);
  MyDocuments := OLE2.GET_OBJ_PROPERTY(MyApplication, 'Documents');
  MyDocument := OLE2.INVOKE_OBJ(MyDocuments,'Add',args);
  etc. etc.

With this, you get ride of the inferior batch-files on the server, you can remove word from the server ("all that memory, all those resources"!), you can give the users an interface where they can see what's going on and the developer doesn't have to do Reports and kan reuse his templates/code).

and remember, it's a developer, so he's always right ;-)

jtriftsMI and Automation

My 2p worth:

Though I consider myself to work on the technical side, this discussion really has very little to do with which technology to use.  The fact is, you already have a system in place, right?

Does it work?  If so, what is your reason for changing it.  I strongly subscribe to the "if it ain't broke- don't fix it" philosophy.

I have used/worked on systems that used Oracle Reports, MS-Word, utl_file/text_io printing to *.txt files as well as JetForms.  Each tool has its uses and its advantages for particular requirement.

One of the drawback of using Oracle Reports (IMHO) is that it takes a fairly long time to actually generate the report, especially if you are displaying it onscreen prior to printing.  Of course there are ways around this, but it was something I always found annoying (since I hate waiting for computers).

We currently have a product in place that uses MS-Word for printing output for policy claims documents, while the policy documents themselves are exported to a text file to be printed by JetForms.  While Jetforms provides a higher level of polishing, and is generally more rich in its publishing prettiness, the MS-Word option if far easier to maintain, required far less code and has given us far less grief.

So to use management speak (heaven forbid!), what is the *added value* of changing your system?





Our current system is a twelve years old Dos-based system. Although it's a very old fashioned system, it uses JetForms to print the documents.
The main reason why we are changing this system is that remote sites have to work with our system in the near future (using Citrix). Until now the system was only needed on one site. Besides that, we don't have the source code of the current program, so we cannot adapt the system to our needs anymore.
Other reason to change the system is of course the lack of Windows functionality in the current system.
For that reason we asked this software house to develop a new system for us. One of our demands was to make a very modern system.
Now, to be honest, when I look at this program I see a program that's almost six years old. The low quality printing solution is only one of the problems I have with this system. Because I'm a Delphi programmer myself I know how to make very modern and (more important) user-friendly interfaces. The developer of this Forms program has a lot of "arguments" (I can't judge them all, that's why I consult you experts) why it's so difficult for him to modernise his program.

jtriftsMI and Automation


I now understand a little better.  The question is not "should we change?" but rather "to what should we change?".

With that in mind, I would suggest listing out your requirements before determining which technology provides the superior solution.

As has been said by other experts, Oracle Reports is a good solution when integrating with Oracle Forms.  However if the requirements are very basic, integrating with MS-Word can still be a decent and viable solution.

Consider answering the following questions before you jump to your decision:
1) How complex is the report intended to be
2) How does your licensing operate? (i.e. will you be required to pay additional license fees if you use Reports in addition to your other Oracle apps?
3) Does your target installation location have licenses for MS-Word/MS-Office?
4) What technical knowledge do you already have present in your development team?
5) How often will the report requirements change (i.e. will this be expected to run for another 6 years)?
6) Does the report need to be viewable across different environments? (i.e. what are you going to do with the output after it is generated? Print it? Save it on your LAN for later viewing? Send it to others via email?).


i am totally disagree with the statement of Oracle reports are slow in genrating output. there may be database tunning or untunned sql statement (query) problem.

Also there is no difference in time if u want to see it in previewer before printing(as it formats in memory before printing it even if u  do not want to see it in previewer)

jtriftsMI and Automation

Hello Mohit,

I guess it's a matter of opinion whether or not you consider it slow.  I have always found that no matter how simple a query is, invoking a report using run_product from Oracle forms seems to take eons before it produces the report.  BUt I tend to be very impatient when it comes to computers.

How long do you consider a "reasonable response time" to be?



Doesn't a lot of the time depend on if it's the initial call?
The first time a report is run on a client PC it has to load up the report background engine. Once this background engine is up and waiting, subsequent reports are processed at a much faster rate.

I must also admit that reports has grown on me. Eight or nine years ago I hated it, but today I'm writing complex matrix reports using the report wizard and reports based on REF CURSORS amongst other things. Altering the layout in the live previewer and deploying them on the web in PDF via Reports Server. As a product it has certainly come a long way.
Top Expert 2008

For me is funny to discuss the speed of Reports. The speed is function of the complexity of the query, mainly how much tables are involved and how much records will be queried. If the query is complex - the report will need time. The time for formating the output is small.

A few months ago I used reports to probe why an Java application didn't work fast. After I did performance tuning the WEB application didn't work fast. But to analyze the speed of 3-4 tier architecture was a very complex task. So I use the same query as query in the Data Model of a Oracle report and run the Report from Bulgaria against the DB in Spain. I got the report in less than 5 seconds. After seeng this the Java Developers stopped to blame the Oracle Server and began to measure the speed of each Java component. I also get rid this problem and was very lucky.

I ensure all of you that Oracle Reports is an excellent product. But I continue to claim the following: 1. It is not so easy to become Reports programmer 2. There are some "spots on the Sun", especially in the Layout Model. But working carefully one will prevent some confusing things.

Finally, for information and for fun look at the message I found in Oracle Forum. I do not entirely agree with it, but it is interesting:

Oracle and Pentium 4. It's a ***** shame. Not the first time........

Just some frustration

I don't like it to be a beta-tester for a company like Oracle
which makes that much profit.

Five examples:

1999: Oracle Application Server 4.0.7. (OAS) on Windows NT.

Service pack 5 is installed on most NT boxes (even in
Afghanistan). Oracle logic...OAS 4.0.7 has to be installed with

2000: The Oracle installer has a Y2K bug. No public
announcements made. A simple statement on Metalink and a hell of
a job to find the patch "installer (??)"

1999/2000: Release of Developer 6 and Oracle 8.1.5.

First step: you've to install Developer 6. Second step: install
the database.
Typical Oracle logic...:-). I do not start with the roof when
I'm building a house.... A few months after the 8i release ,
Oracle published the proper installation procedure for this

2000/2001: Designer 6iR2 cannot be uninstalled on Windows W2K.
A "beta tester" in the field (so..you or me), with the name
Dimitri, had to make a remark on OTN. Compliments to Brian Duff
of Oracle who initiated the release 4 of Designer.

2001: Oracle 8i cannot be installed on Pentium 4
machines..Cause..a bug in the universal installer.
Only with workarounds which partly work or do not not work at
all. ... Oracle ..it's a shame.

Larry..many thousands of "oracle-fans" cannot appreciate your
arrogant attitude. These people want to work with stuff which
can do the job !
They do not want to be beta-testers for the sake of increasing
Oracle profits. This policy reflects itself in higher costs for
the smaller companies..ie: buying Oracle software which does not


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jtriftsMI and Automation

I'd take a share of the points...though perhaps they should be split...
Thanks, I'll be happy to help split points, but would like to give JDN a few days to respond here.
Moondancer - EE Moderator

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