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How to do a comparitive study

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I wasn't sure where this would go, so I am posting it here.
I want to know how one would go about doing some comparitive study. For example if I was to try to figure out which XML parser would be right for me, where would I look?
Or if I wanted to check out crystall reports, vs. some other reporting engine, where would I look for some comparitive study, or some pointers in a direction to look for would be greatly appreciated.
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A good start might be the trusty search engines. Searches such as

or might lead to something useful.

What have you tried so far, and what have you found?
Ipsita Naravane
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I tried that lol .. I will post my findings shortly.
Ipsita Naravane
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Ok, so here's the deal. Let's take crystal reports for example. I have found out how it works. I have found out that you can build repositories on Crystal reports, you can have them use templates so they all adhere to a certain structure per company stds.
What I could not find out was if there's a way to compare diffrent reporting tools like cognos etc. based on single-sign-on related issues. I also don't know how the comparison would go down in terms of providing some built-in security, something that the rest of the product already does, and it needs to be incorporated in the reporting tool. So for eg. if a user may view only certain types of orders, then that check may alerady be a part of the rest of the product, how would one include it the reporting tool so that every report generated adheres to that constraint.
I also need to know how easy or difficult the integration of the tool would be with std java stuff...
would it be benificial to build a tool instead? What if the requirement is to provide the clients with a tool that is similar to the reporting tool in terms of column selection etc. but the repository that they actually report on would not be a database table directly but an abstraction of multiple tables. How do these tools fare in forcing a user through this abstraction layer, if you will, w/o exposing the nitty-gritty of the database. How do they control the access to the repositories themselves and the formulae. What if there are formulae in the repositories that clients may use, but not modify. I want to know how these tools fare in all of these issues, and whether build a tool may be more prudent, in some cases.

Sorry for the really long post.
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I know little about Crystal Reports so I can post the main features of CR if anybody have some knowledge about other reporting tools he can post the features of that reporting tool in this way we can have a goog comparison data.

The Comparison features features can include

1. Security
2.Development Environment
3.Application Integration and Deployement
5.User Defined Reports
6. Scheduling

Crystal Reports itself doesn't address security. You can buy Crystal Enterprise or use Crystal RAS to help with security but a front-end application should be able to handle all your security needs.

-Development environment
Crystal has its own integrated development environment. Various features that Crystal report have under the development environment can be used as a comparison parameters.

Report designer. Drag-and-drop interface and object-oriented explorers.
Experts and wizards. Optional experts and wizards to simplify common reporting tasks such as connecting to a data source, selecting, grouping, sorting, and summarizing data.

Types of Reports. cross-tab, conditional, top N/bottom N, summary/drill-down, form, mailing label, OLAP, and subreport.

Charting and mapping. map and chart types including bar/3D bar, pie/doughnut, line, gantt, gauge, funnel, XY scatter, ranged map, dot density map, and more.

Reusable report objects. text objects, SQL commands, bitmaps, and custom functions (formulas) -- in a central managed library (provided in Crystal Enterprise) for sharing, reuse, and single-point updating across multiple reports.

Customizable templates. Design and apply customized templates that specify standards in formatting and logic -- including data access operations -- to ensure design consistency across reports.

Formula language. Formula language in Crystal Reports contain over 160 built-in and user-defined functions and operators to tightly control report formatting, complex logic, and data selection. A call-stack makes debugging data-level errors easy. A formula extractor and formula workshop are also included.

Custom functions. Eliminate redundant formula creation. Extract business logic from formulas to create custom functions so you can use them across multiple reports.

Asymmetric reporting. Provide a customized view of OLAP grids. With asymmetric reporting, you can hide specific dimensions of data so that end users only see relevant and valuable data.

Application Integration and Deployment
Crystal Reports 10 introduces a 100% Java version of the powerful Crystal Reports reporting engine. This new reporting component helps you take full advantage of Java, including portability across operating systems and hardware platforms. It delivers a fast, codeless way for developers to connect to data and to design dynamic reports for easy integration into Java Server Pages. The Java Reporting Component is also integrated with popular Integrated Development Environments including Borland JBuilder X and BEA WebLogic Workshop.

User Defined reports
Crystal really doesn't lend itself to users building their own reports mainly because each user would require his/her own license. Also users would need knowledge of the database and the relationships which generally they don't have.

-Rendering; Crystal can export to numerous formats including HTML, Excel, Word (RTF), PDF,text and several others.

Scheduling; Scheduling is done either through Crystal enterpirse or through front end applications. Crystal Reports doesn't include any method of scheduling.
[ November 15, 2005: Message edited by: Sameer Jamal ]
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