Best reporting tool - low cost

I have had very disappointing results with Microsoft Report Builder and SSRS.  Neither have even printed a simple results of a query.  Report Builder 3 was a sad experience. So I just downloaded Crystal Reports 2016 trial and DevExpress Reports trial.  I was told that the learning curve for DevX is extremely difficult, so I will delete that one.  I don't need complex reporting, just results of stored procs, some complex with as many as 7 tables in a series of joins.

What reporting software do you guys recommend?

Barry D
Barry DunlapAsked:
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Dale FyeOwner, Dev-Soln LLCCommented:
Microsoft Access, simple and easy to use.  Can link to almost any data source, can use SQL Server views or stored procedures and is super easy to configure.

I do use SSRS for some of my clients who need a web based tool, but for most of my clients, Access is the way to go.
Barry DunlapAuthor Commented:
I was thinking that Access might be  my answer.  Can a C# Windows Form app control the Access report or would I have to use Access Reporting directly in an instance of Access?
I would think that  Access 2019 would function very well with SQL Server 2014 Express and have the most refined ability to work with stored procedures and a well-designed relational DB.
How would you compare Access reporting vs Crystal Reports.  (For one thing, Access is cheaper at about $100 vs $500 for Crystal).

Dale, thanks for your reply
Mike McCrackenSenior ConsultantCommented:
Crystal Reports  has a free version that can be used with Visual Studio.  Basic learning curve is no worse than MS Access reporting.  You can use stored procedures.

It can be downloaded from here

Here is a link to an application that can be used with any type of dataset since it opens it in the application and pushes it to the report

Become a Certified Penetration Testing Engineer

This CPTE Certified Penetration Testing Engineer course covers everything you need to know about becoming a Certified Penetration Testing Engineer. Career Path: Professional roles include Ethical Hackers, Security Consultants, System Administrators, and Chief Security Officers.

Barry DunlapAuthor Commented:
I downloaded and installed CR Developer.  It asked for a product key.  After searching on how to get a key, it appears now that Developer is not free and costs more than single-user Crystal.

If I have found faulty info and you know of recent free installs, please tell me how to get a product key.

Mike McCrackenSenior ConsultantCommented:
Did you download from

CR Download
It has been free in the past so unless something changed recently, I think you may have downloaded the wrong product.

I read through various pages and don't see anything that indicates it need a key.  DId you get any emails from SAP/Crystal that might have the key in them?

I don't have Visual Studio installed on any of my machines so even if I download the install package, I can't install it to see what you are seeing.  Can you provide a screen shot of the Crystal page you are seeing or is the key required when you install?


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Barry DunlapAuthor Commented:
Since Crystal Reports on Visual Studio would lock up so often, I have decided to do what Dale Fye recommended.  Thank you mike for recommending CRonVS.  The failure is a SAP problem.  SAP never responded to my email describing the issues I had with Crystal.

I will try Access and its reporting tool.  I could not get Access using ODBC to link to tables in SQL Server 2014.  Each time I tried it only 5 of 20+ tables were found.

Then I found an article that said to use Access VBA.  The article also provided the VBA code to go against SQL Server.  Hope that solves my problem.

Dale FyeOwner, Dev-Soln LLCCommented:

You could also try using my Linked Table Manager for Access and SQL Server to link the tables from SQL Server to your Access database.  You can download it for free from my website.  It is a zip file containing 2 files(one contains instructions for installing the add-in, the other is the .accda file).
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.