< Back to Blog

Quick Guide: Practical Advice on Moving to .NET Core

Industry

.NET Core was already a popular development platform, and the 3.1.1 Stable release version in 2020 has triggered even more interest in moving to it.  However, there are still questions that may linger in the minds of the decision-makers.  Some of these questions include:

This blog answers these questions so that you can make the best decision for your organization.

Benefits of Moving to .NET Core

Before any other questions, you might be wondering “why?”  Many developers who have moved to .NET Core can testify to the pleasant experience they had with this edition.  This experience is enhanced by the following benefits.

Convenient Deployment: The convenience with which one is able to deploy .NET Core makes the whole experience smooth. You can publish the application complete with everything you want included.  The best part is that you can run it on all three primary operating systems: Linux, Windows, and MacOS.

Fluid Performance: Deployment is just the start of the .NET Core’s overall performance.  You will notice sophisticated performance in comparison to the earlier edition.  This is despite the hitches experienced when dealing with sites that have heavy traffic, which results in some static files.

Easier Development Pattern Implementation: Dependency injection is something you will need for implementation of development patterns. Native support for this makes the whole process easier and even training others to use this concept is easier.

Cross-Platform: Not every organization may need this, but it is possible and for those that need it, it’s big benefit. It is indeed a worthy successor to the good old .NET framework and Microsoft has already published simple to understand and practical tutorials for new users moving to this framework.

As you use .NET Core, you may discover even more benefits. Talking with other organizations that are already using it will result in discovering even more benefits.

Reasons Not to Move

With anything, the platform may not be for every organization.  What may be a plus today might get upgraded and seem like a minus tomorrow.  Here are some downsides to switching that make some developers think twice.

These concerns are not permanent hurdles since you can find solutions to them. Microsoft too will continue to provide support for the platform, so there will be fixes for problems developers may encounter now or in the future.

Is It Necessary to Move?

You can save time by starting new projects in .NET Core since there are so many benefits to the platform.

Now, whether you should move to other existing projects, time may be the biggest deciding factor. If you can set aside the time to complete the project, then, by all means, go ahead and move especially if you are dealing with MVC projects.

If you are dealing with WebForm projects, the size of the project will play a role in determining the need to move or not. For small and simple projects, you can put in the work and move to it while huge projects might not be worth the effort at present.

Crystal Reports Has No Plans to Support .NET Core

If you are still using Crystal Reports, then you might find yourself disappointed once you try to move to .NET Core.  Many who have tried have hit a frustrating dead end and had to search for an alternative.

It is obviously hard to imagine saying goodbye to Crystal Reports given the fact that it seems quite efficient when it comes to reports. However, you can find a worthy alternative that measures up to or even surpasses your expectations.

Because Crystal Reports has no plans to support .NET Core, it becomes even more imperative that you find a solution.  The alternative will need to have features that include ease of use, report creation in the correct formats, as well as the ability to seamlessly integrate with .NET Core.

The best alternative is Windward!

Windward’s application is one of the best document generations software systems you can come across.  It ticks all the boxes when it comes to the best alternative to Crystal Reports while working in .NET Core.

Let’s take a look at some of those features:

Ease of Use

When you talk of ease of use, no doubt Crystal Reports is one of those applications that you can deal with easily. Windward too is a similar application and even better!

With Windward, you are able to use it with the usual computer applications that you are already used to like Microsoft Word. This means it will be instantly familiar to you and there is less time spent learning how to use the program.

There are also tutorials just in case you still need guidance and the customer support can also provide assistance.

Report Generation

Windward is intended for document generation, which means reports can also be generated in .NET Core. It is efficient when it comes to collecting data from different sources to be used in a report and the final report is easy to understand. Windward will produce the report in any format you need it, which includes PDF that Crystal Reports usually uses.

Integration

Your Crystal Reports alternative needs to be able to integrate with ease when you are using other programs. One of the strong points in favor of Windward is that it integrates seamlessly with other programs and the developers continue to make it compatible with more platforms. Very soon you will be able to easily use .NET Core with Windward.

Interface

The Windward interface is made not just appealing, but also functional. It is easy to find whatever you want on the interface which makes it faster to use for different report tasks. So far, users are happy with the interface it presents since it is adapted from familiar programs and it has been simplified even more.

So, are you still searching for an alternative?

Hopefully, you are ready to try out Windward.

To get more information about it before you make the choice. You can get a demo version that will give you even more insight into how efficiently it integrates with a wide range of applications including .NET Core.

In Conclusion

Dealing with .NET Core may be a bit complicated, but the benefits are evident. And, you have document generation tools like Windward to help create reports in just a few clicks without the need for any coding.

It may take careful consideration to make the decision to move to this platform and this decision will need to be supported by careful planning so that it can be done effectively and then followed up with upgrades when needed to get the best out of it. Once again, it may not be for every organization, but a closer study of how it would affect individual organizations can drive the decision to move or not.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

This blog was written by:_
Genesis Abel

For over 10 years, Windward has lead the industry with our world-class document generation platform that creates visually stunning, data-powered documents designed exactly the way users want and are created in a fraction of the time and cost compared to existing solutions. Proudly located in Boulder, Colorado, Windward Studios is the premier solution for developers and business users adding reporting and document generation capabilities to their applications in over 70 countries around the world.

© 2019 Windward Studios Inc.

Contact

Got questions about reporting and document generation? We've got answers—let's connect!
Send a note
messaging, phone, or email contact optionsclose out button