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.