Visual Studio .NET ships with a reporting tool called Crystal Reports. It only performs basic tasks associated with the report generation and the developers were keenly looking for reporting tools which will perform many advanced tasks. It is in this situation that the importance of third party reporting products comes into play. This review analyzes one such product called Report Sharp-Shooter developed by a .NET component vendor 9Rays.net
A trial version of the product can be downloaded from the website of the vendor. The product can be easily downloaded and installed on your system. It took around 5 minutes to download the product using a cable broadband connection. The only point you should bear in mind is that you should install .NET Framework 1.1 before the installation of this product. Once you have installed it you can then work with or without Visual Studio .NET. I would suggest you work with the product using Visual Studio .NET as it will simplify many of the initial formalities such as placement and naming of controls. However, you can also use Notepad or development environments such as Borland Delphi 8 or Borland C# Builder instead of Visual Studio .NET. If you use Notepad then you have to write code from the beginning to work with the product.
Report Sharp-Shooter is one of the most flexible .NET report engines available on the market. It is a suite of 100% managed .NET components allowing you to create both bound and unbound reports with unlimited number of master-detail relations. You can build highly complex reports by using groups, columns, crosses, double pass mode.
You can use either C# or Visual Basic .NET for working with this product. The product comes with support for full data-binding model with all .NET sources and includes royalty free runtime designer for final documents and report-templates. The Professional version of Report Sharp-Shooter also includes source codes. With the help of the product, you can create a single report with unlimited level of master-detail bands and with different page sizes and orientations. This is simply not possible with any other reporting tool.
You can also use style sheets to optimize report for preview and print. The product fully supports Open plug-in architecture which guarantees easy integration into other software projects and both bound and unbound modes and also offer C# or Visual Basic .NET scripting support. It also comes with Report Wizard which will help you to build reports with a few mouse clicks. The product offers rich visual controls set, including texts, barcodes, shapes and pictures.
The main features of this product are Managed report engine and designer, Support for hierarchical data model with relations, Support for web based applications (ASP.NET), Support for all .NET data sources and GDI+ classes, Open plug-in architecture, Metric and inch measure units and much more. Further, the generated reports are stored in the form of objects graph (using ReportDOM) rather then in metafile, so you can easily modify final reports. You can also export reports in different formats such as XML, PDF, HTML, RTF, EMF, BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, Excel and CSV. The product also ships with 100% Royalty free report engine and viewer for both Windows and Web based applications. Moreover, the product ships with full-featured final documents and report templates run-time designer.
The product ships with a lot of sample demo applications which will explain various concepts with the help of relevant Visual Studio .NET projects. One of the important features of the product is its support for localization. With the help of this feature you can translate Report Sharp-Shooter text resources into your native language. This feature supports following languages - Spanish, French, German, Russian, Polish, Czech, Norwegian, Hebrew and Japanese. The latest version of the product (Version 1.9) ships with support for Romanian, Thai, Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese and Greek languages. I didn't experience any difficulty testing the product. I simply followed the instructions as stated on the step-by-step getting started tutorial given in the user guide.
I must say that the tutorial is very comprehensive and includes relevant source codes and screenshots. I would suggest you go through the user guide soon after the installation as it will help you to get an initial orientation about the product. The guide will help you to learn more about the advanced features of the product. The product also comes with a handy class reference manual which is mainly oriented for advanced .NET developers.
It is very easy to deploy an application developed using this product. You should only have to burn two DLL files along with your application. The product also supports XML based report file format and hence you can easily share your application over the Internet.
One of the interesting features of the product is that it comes with a SharpShooter demo. It will show you how the final report will look like in different layouts. If a particular layout is not suitable for you then you can check out another one and implement them in your final application. This feature will surely serve good purpose.
A live demo of the product can be accessed from http://www.truedotnet.com/OnlineDemo/Demo.aspx. The product comes with different editions which are Standard, Lite, Professional and with 3 set of licenses such as Single, Site and Team. You can order the product online at http://www.9rays.net/cgi-bin/components_order.cgi