Reporting Tools

A reporting tool allows you to extract and present data in charts, tables and other visualizations so users can derive useful information. It can also allow you to build paginated reports ideal for printing. A reporting tool is typically an application within a business intelligence (BI) software suite.

Reports can vary in their interactivity. A static report once created cannot be changed by the end user whereas interactive reporting allows you to navigate the report through various hierarchies and visualization elements. Interactive reporting are living reports that allow you to drill down through various levels of the data at the click of a button as well as navigate, sort, filter and view the data for your specific needs.

What is the goal of a reporting tool?

The purpose of a reporting tool is to translate data into actionable information.

Reporting is commonly an early step in data processing that achieves the goal of interactive, actionable information. Interactivity in the form of drill down, sort, filter, and other features allow you to further explore your data for the best insights. Actionable information empowers you with the knowledge to make better business decisions.

Reporting should fit within your strategic business goals in order to be useful. There are also many use cases for reporting tools from managing performance data to allowing your customers to leverage reporting of their own data.

How does a reporting tool work?

Within the confines of a reporting software such as JReport, reporting tools operate in a specific workflow.

A report designer (e.g., report writer), such as JReport Designer, is used by report developers to specify properties such as data sources, display formats, graphical visualizations, filters, parameters and many other options that are essential for report presentation.

Alternatively, users can self service their reporting needs directly from a Web application using ad hoc reporting capabilities. By building reporting components, pulling in data, and designing ad hoc reports on their own, users have the full capabilities to create what they need in order to make speedy data-driven decisions.

Once the reports are built, they can be published to a reporting engine such as JReport Server which extracts data from the specified data sources and generates reports accordingly. There are many other system functions associated with a reporting tool including scheduling, exporting, distribution, bursting, etc.

Key takeaways

  • Reporting tools connect to specific data sources that allow end users to create reports that fit their business needs.
  • Reports are leveraged by visualizing data for actionable information for you to improve decision making.
  • Developers can embed a reporting tool into host applications empowering users to create ad hoc reports through user-friendly interfaces and processes.

 

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