Two reporting software solutions—JasperReports and Windward Studios—are two alternatives to your current document automation strategies. Their capabilities are vastly different.
The JasperReports Server can be used as a stand-alone or embeddable reporting server. It provides reporting and analytics that can be embedded into a web or mobile application as well as operate as a central information hub for the enterprise customer.
Their designer, JasperSoft Studio, lets users build a report and then deploy it to JasperReports Server. But keep in mind, unless you are an experienced Jasper user or have a technical background around the Java programming language, this tool can be tricky to use and a huge time suck.
Jasper’s support documentation seems to be very limited, and there are few getting started guides. This can be an issue for business users who don’t immediately have the technical expertise needed to work with Jasper’s software. Comparatively, Windward has a comprehensive support documentation Wiki as well as two complimentary instructor-led training webinars each month that covers everything both new and experienced users need to know about template design.
Jasper users must be fluent in Java and understand variables, expressions, and elements, which may be okay for an experienced technical user. Windward, on the other hand, lets users take full advantage of the very mature and stable Microsoft Office suite of products, meaning non-technical users can connect to a datasource and start designing templates with dynamic elements in a matter of minutes, no prior coding knowledge required.
If you’re an experienced Jasper user or you’re coming to the table with a significant amount of Java knowledge, then Jasper may be a worth looking at. However, since Windward offers a design environment that’s built on top of the Microsoft Office suite, it gives non-technical users the ability to design, test and even generate reports from programs they are already familiar with like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
In doing so, Windward allows users to connect to a variety of datasources and intuitively create pixel perfect reports they’re looking for without having to bother their IT staff. Windward is one of the few vendors that can connect to multiple datasources in a single template.
Free form design is one of the many benefits that come with the Windward Designer. The flexibility the tool offers makes designing custom templates a breeze. In comparison, Jasper follows band style algorithms and can be extremely sensitive when trying to nest report elements, causing the report to fail.
When building Windward’s Designer, one of the things the developers focused on was drag and drop design. This is especially useful for non-technical users who may not be as familiar with their data as a developer or business analyst. With Jasper, coding is required in the query and require elements to be nested in specific group elements. Windward’s familiar and intuitive builders allow designers and developers to create and edit templates in a fraction of the time it would take with Jasper.
From the designer’s perspective, Windward has very intuitive wizards that helps non-technical users build SQL queries or JSON or XPATH statements from the template design tool, simply by dragging and dropping items. This feature helps users become more comfortable with their data as well as making it easier for them to access their own data and offload that from IT.
You can read our more detailed comparison between Windward and Jasper here.