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Databases can contain a myriad of information, but the information is only as good for you as the reports used to make business decisions. Database reports need to be formatted in such a way that they are presentable and easy to read. They also need to provide a way to identify specific data quickly. Database report writing tools used to be only available commercially and were usually expensive. Now there are numerous open source and free database report writing tools that are useful for both enterprises and individuals. In this article, we'll take a look at a few of the products available.
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OpenMFG Open Source Report Writer 2.0
The OpenRPT (version 2.0) report writer can run on the platforms. It is provided by OpenMFG, a supplier of open source enterprise products for large and small business.
Two license modes are in operation, providing the choice of the free license utilizing the General Public License (GNU), and a commercial version providing a source code license with the OpenMFG company.
OpenRPT is designed to work within an open source framework tool called QT 4. Prior versions exist, but the new report writer is designed to take advantage of QT4 features.
One of the menu features is the ability to produce PDF style reports. Furthermore, new features in the form of general ODBC database connections have been added. Therefore it will now be possible to produce a variety of reports from different databases.
The report writing tool OpenRPT 2.0 is available at:
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Open Office Database Report Writer
Open Office is probably the most popular free office products available. However, it is not well known for its ability to produce reports. Enhancements have now been made to the report writer usinf the Oracle database report writer, available as open source with the GNU license. New features have been added in the last few years to make it a more powerful report writing tool.
Grouping capability has been added for group headers, footers, and pages. The ability to use calculations with different database fields provides a more complex reporting system and makes it more powerful.
When of the major advantages of the tool is that it can produce reports from not only open office databases bought from others such as Oracle and HSQL. This provides flexibility for the business user, and the personal user can still use the basic functions to generate reports from the Open Officer database,
It can be downloaded from: http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/en/download/4626 as an extension which must be added into Open Office.
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This tool can generate reports from a variety of databases including MySQL, Informix, Oracle, text files and several other types of databases. A JDBC driver is required to connect to a database and produce reports. Delimiters can be specified in text files.
A particularly useful feature is the ability to "drag and drop" in the design phase of a report using the DataVision GUI, but reports can also be edited using a suitable text editor, as report descriptions are specified in XML.
The program is coded in Java and therefore it is highly portable.
It is stated that it is similar to Crystal Reports, and perhaps just as powerful as it can handle the export of report formats (quote by Datavision) including "HTML, XML, PDF, Excel, LaTeX2e, DocBook, or tab- or comma-delimited text files".
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We can conclude from this sample list of open source database report writing tools, that it is not necessary to purchase very expensive commercial products. The free and open source versions very often provide complex and powerful functions in order to produce excellent reports in a variety of formats.
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