Monday, 6 September 2010

Open Letter to Digital Metaphors

I am currently rewriting our standard Crystal Reports (over 250) in ReportBuilder, so that we can standardise on one report writer. I have been so impressed by ReportBuilder during this development process that I felt compelled to write to Digital Metaphors and let them know.

I just wanted to drop you a line to say how continually impressed I am with ReportBuilder. We have been a customer since RB version 4, when we chose it as the report writer that we wanted to embed in our software for end users. This decision came some time after we had already started the software, and so the standard reports we provide are written with Crystal Reports.

I am currently undergoing a 2 month project to eliminate Crystal Reports from our system, which involves rewriting over 250 reports in ReportBuilder. I am about 85% of the way through this project now, and I can only say it has actually been a pleasure, rather than the chore I was expecting it to be. There hasn't been one thing that I haven't been able to reproduce in ReportBuilder, and in the majority of cases, the RB method of doing something is far better.

Of particular importance to us have been RAP, the SQLBuilder class and Autosearch Parameters. The aim has been to totally design these reports so that they are self-sufficient, i.e. there is no Delphi form or code behind them as individual reports. These 3 features have enabled this transition, and I believe that, thanks to your product, we now have superior reports.

We also have the need to modify the query of every report when it runs, in order to add security so that the users only see the subset of data they're allowed to see. This is made so easy by the TdaSQLBuilder class.

With the email and PDF export built-in, we will also be able to achieve one area of functionality we have long strived for: automated, or scheduled, reports. I will now be able to allow users to select a report, set a time for it to run on a regular basis, and ask them to supply any parameters in advance. It can then be printed or emailed overnight, or as required.

Not to mention how powerful the RB Server edition has been; we have been able to offer user-defined web-based reports for our intranet software which has been one of our most successful features to date.

As a software developer, I know that praise is hard to come by and it can be dejecting to just see a long list of problems, such as if you look at the newsgroups. This is why I felt compelled to write and let you know that we regard ReportBuilder as our most valuable third-party add-on for Delphi.
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