There are many options out there for .net reporting engines, such as:

What we would like

  • A visual report writer (banded style)
  • A per-developer seat license model (< US$700 a developer)
  • Needs to export out to many formats (PDF, Word, Excel, Richtext, etc)
  • Easy component model that our junior level developers can understand
  • Can generate reports through code or visual report writer
  • Visual report writer generates a file that we can edit outside the designer (ie: non binary/proprietary)
    • Doesn't matter if it's XML based or if it generates code.

What we want to stay away from:

  • Crystal Reports
  • Any engine that requires per-server licenses
  • Anything that will require me to sell my soul to the devil to afford

Some of these listed above even feature the ability for the end user to edit reports in an HTML5 tool, and it would be nice, but not required.

Its going to be a huge investment to get our team setup, so I want to make sure I do it right up front, so I'm coming here.

So my question is, what are you using? It's pros/cons? What engine would you recommend?

And have I missed any "major players" on my list?

Thanks for you opinions!

  • Why staying away from Crystal Report exactly ? because it actually matches all the feature you are looking for.
    – Franck
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 19:46
  • Hello Franck! Great question. There are a few reasons, but one of the main reasons is that our buyer said that the licensing costs skyrocketed, especially if you wanted more than 5 concurrent reports running. We only want to pay for the product once for our dev team, and don't want to be surprised by additional costs as the product grows. (Plus I was told to not consider it from someone much higher than me) ;)
    – PRB
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 22:37
  • Ok so i assume your developer do not work with Visual Studio as it come with free license of crystal report. Last time we bought a licence was because we wanted a stand alone version and it was 800$ for 5 desk but we were only using 3. it was crystal report 2008 and we are still using it up to this date. I don't know about concurrent report but we are outputting over 40 different reports a the same time on 1 computer. I was unaware of such limitation and i sure was using crystal intensively and found lots of small issues and dealt with Ludek one of the dev at crystal report.
    – Franck
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 12:55
  • 1
    And i understand higher up requests. They think they know things better than people that have been using the product since 1994 in my case. Crystal 2.0/3.0 or around that.
    – Franck
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 12:57

2 Answers 2


We've been using the DevExpress offering (XtraReports Suite) for several years now. For the most part it has worked wonderfully, and on the rare occasions when it hasn't their customer support has been able to provide the answer (and in one case a work-around until a bug we'd uncovered got fixed).

Having said that, our use of XtraReports has not been an entirely smooth ride. Problems we ran into include:

  • "Messy" Excel export if columns are not exactly aligned.
  • The "Update wizard" does not always do the right thing in complex reports (source code control is your friend).
  • The REPX format has some limitations when it comes to calculated content. (Complex non-standard calculations would be better handled by the data model, not the report - which I would suggest is good practice anyway.)

Overall, in our scenario the benefits outweigh the pain points and I would certainly recommend giving XtraReports a quick evaluation. Only you can decide if it fully meets your needs. Good luck!

  • 1
    I second Devexpress, it's pretty intuitive and useful Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 15:34

There are a number of reporting systems out there with no run-time charge so you can get that. They tend to be limited in layout/formatting but with your statement that you only need banded reports, and I guess they need to look good but not spectacular, you should be ok.

Keep in mind that you'll have different levels of effort for each (ie with Aspose all the report design is in code - which is a ton of work) and the limits in some may be really problematic for you while others not so much. The only way to figure that out is try each.

DevExpress has a good product and good support (always a 1 day wait though). Telerik is also good but there support is poor (or at least used to be). ActiveReports from what I've heard is a big problem, we get lots of customers who switched to us from ActiveReports. Aspose is a file format library, not really a reporting system. And stay away from XML-FO as it's a write-only language.

Keep in mind your largest expense is not the cost of the software, it's the time your developers spend creating & revising templates. And with all the products you are looking at, regardless of what the vendors say, you do need a developer designing the templates.

Disclaimer, I'm the founder at Windward Reports (which does not meet your criteria of no run-time charge).

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