When do you really need a reporting engine like Microsoft Reporting Services or one of the Data Dynamics offerings?
I’m working with a customer to rewrite an old application that is used to collect and publish a lot of data.
Some of the data is easy to pull from the database, but needs complicated layout. Other data is hard to get out of the database, filtering is ad hoc and it is published without formatting in an Excel spreadsheet.
There is also the unspecified requirement that the end users should be able to create their own reports and/or modify the shipping ones.
As far as I’ve experienced it is usually the creator of the application that ends up making modified or new reports anyway so I think a steep learning curve is OK. It is a good thing to have the reporting engine separate from the main application tough. That way you are not locked to the main applications release cycle. You also have the option to merge your application data with the customers existing data from other applications.
I guess I’ll vote against the reporting tool for the ad hoc Excel report.