Choosing your reporter: Crystal Reports or MS Word? __ Keywords: CR vs Word Reports

Hello,

Our company often develops applications that has the functionality to make print-outs: Planning-overviews, order-overview, stock-overview, ...

Some of out projects make use of Crystal Reports to do this, some use MS Word with DOT's and bookmarks to achieve the same. This decision solely depends on the person who implements the project. None of these decisions are based on good arguments.

Could someone give us some guidelines / criteria why we should choose CR over Word or Word over CR? We know CR is better with handling data. All report logic is stored in the report itself, i.s.o the programming code and some bookmarks. However, a user is very flexible in adding changes after a report is created using MS Word rather than CR. These are some of the basic things we know, but isn't enough to make a thorough decision on what software to use. So, please help!

With kind regards, and thanks in advance,

Luc Derckx
LVL 5
IThemaAsked:
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frodomanCommented:
I would say that Crystal also offers more opportunities for expanding into a bigger role in your company later.  

+ The RDC components allow better control of Crystal through other programming languages.
+ The web page server components allow for publishing of reports on your intranet.
+ Crystal handles a wider variety of data sources better than Word.
+ You can create parameterized reports with Crystal so user's can generate the same report for different parameters.


I don't know much about the capabilities of Word, but above are what I would believe to be some strong points in favor of Crystal.

Hope that helps.
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IThemaAuthor Commented:
Those are strong points indeed. I believe the use of CR or Word depends on what you want to do with them. In my experience, I've seen great international banks use Word as a reporter to generate overviews of mortgages. In that case, the program collects all data and pumps them in Word. The role of Word is that it can help in pre-defining the layout of a report, by using a template. The bank-employee can easily make changes in the report after it has been generated, because it is then 'just another word document'. I believe this is one strong point of Word.

Example: In the code, one would to something like this:

'...
InsertText("MyBookmark1", "Bla")
InsertText("MyBookmark2", "BlaBla")
'Finished, show my word document now so user can Print / Edit / DoWhateverHeWants
objMyWordDocument.Visible = True
'...

Public Function InsertWordText(strBookmark as string, strText as string)
    objWord.ActiveDocument.Selection.GoTo wdBookmark, strBookmark
    objWord.ActiveDocument.TypeText strText
End Function

So, this actually brings me back to my question: When would one use CR over Word or vice versa.
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mlmccCommented:
I would say a mox is a good idea.

I would use Crystal for heavily data-oriented reports where you want the information formatted and arranged in a certain way but there is limited text not from the database.

I would use Word where the major parts of the report are textual and don't change based on the data.  Word is much better at producing documents especially if the document looks a lot like a form or has a lot of "boiler-plate" information.

I think you used an excellent example of the a bank and the mortgage documents.  Limited data with lots of boilerplate or common information between all reports.  Crystal wouldn't lend itself to that very easily.

As far as allowing users to modify a report after it is generated, I would be concerned that data might get changed.  In that regard Crystal is better for reports where a user shouldn't change the information or the format.  In addition, Crystal Reports can be exported to other formats including RTF which can be read into Word and modified.

We use Crystal for the data-centric reports where the data is the important aspect and for reports we don't want the user to manipulate.  We use Word for documents that need some information from the database but require the user or and analyst to modify or add information to the document.

mlmcc
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frodomanCommented:
Good point; however Crystal can export into Word format so this has never been a limitation for us in using Crystal.

When we have a situation similar to what you illustrated, the user simply exports the Crystal report to Word and then works with it as 'just another word document.'

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IThemaAuthor Commented:
Thank you both so far. I'll keep this question open for a couple more days in order to give others the oppertunity to give me their view on this.

Cheers
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mlmccCommented:
You might put a low point link to this question in the MS Word forum to get their viewpoint.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Applications/MS_Office/Word/

mlmcc
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IThemaAuthor Commented:
Good idea, since you people are all so keen on Crystal Reports :p    <-- (that means: this is a joke :D)

I put a link to this thread on in the Word area.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Applications/MS_Office/Word/Q_20820366.html

I hope I get some strong arguments from people of the Word area.

Cheers!
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