Tell Me About Crystal Reports -- Is It Worth Buying?

Once again I’ve got an employer with a bit of software which gives you the option of using Crystal Reports for custom reporting. I’ve thought about buying it myself over the years, but never gotten around to it. Has anyone out there actually used it? If so, about how much did you pay and was it worth the money? How easy to use is it? Could it be used by someone with familiarity with Microsoft Office but no programming experience which covers most people around here?

Thanks for your help!

I don’t like Crystal anywhere near as much as I do the reporting feature in Access. It’s a personal thing; I’m not knocking Crystal, because it does do what I need it to. However, given a choice, I’ll develop the report in Access first because I think it’s easier to use than Crystal.


Unfortunately, Access’ reporting feature won’t work with our software, as far as I know. Even if I can get a look at the underlying structure, I doubt I’d be able to get the software to acknowledge the existence of the new reports

Does anyone else have experience with Crystal Report?


Disclaimer: I’ve spent a good chunk of my career working at a large software company based in Redmond, which could be considered a competitor of Crystal.

That being said, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anybody (either in my own company, or customers who use it) say they like Crystal Reports. They acknowledge that it’s a powerful reporting tool, but the UI is very, very difficult to use. If the people in your organization are not technically inclined, I’d think twice about getting Crystal.

What backend database are you using, BTW?

I feel the same way. I have used Access a lot for producing reports and Crystal a bit. Maybe its because I’m not used to the Crystal reports designer but I found it to be clumsy and inflexible to use.

But unfortunately as a programmer I find I have no credibility with employers or my peers if they find I prefer a toy like Access to a professional report designer like Crystal. A lot of jobs for software developers actually specify experience with Crystal Reports as a pre-requisite.

disclaimer: I haven’t dealt with Crystal Reports for about 5 years and maybe it’s gotten a lot better and easier. That said, the only people I ever met that like Crystal Reports were programmer/developer types. The logic or style of creating crystal reports is not intuitive to your basic Office user. I used to do a lot of desktop publishing and I never really got the hang of crystal.

I’ve heard that large software company in redmond has some pretty cool reporting tools that work with the SQL database these days.

We get jobs in our office where Crystal Reports is specified. I am not a programmer, but from what I have heard from the programmers, it is a powerful reporting tool. I haven’t heard any programmers, and certainly no one else, freely select it as their report generator of choice, but it apparently works when needed. That said, I can’t imagine anyon buying it just for fun. Unless you are a private consultant that wishes to market your skills in CR, and already own Oracle or ArcGIS or some similar backend data source, I don’t think I is an affordable idea for home use. Check out pricing, I haven’t. Either the job pays whatever is needed or we don’t think about it so I can’t help there.

I use Access and Crystal Reports at work quite alot. In neither case do we really take advantage of the softwares’ full capabilities.

We chose Crystal Reports becuase we needed to dynamically serve reports via the web. I wasn’t aware of any other tools which would facilitate this, so we went with it.

IME, both Access and Crystal Reports can be very frustrating when trying to lay out basic reports. Getting the data where you want it can be pretty annoying. But, in both cases it’s not especially technical, just tedious and sometimes unpredictable.

Supposedly Crystal Reports has alot of good analysis tools, but honestly I haven’t really tried to implement them since we’re just servering up simple revenue reports.

If you have specific questions I can try and answer them. But I can;t really recommend either software without knowing more. My usage hasn’t been extensive enough to speak as an authority.