FastReport Designer Community Edition

Recently, the open source version of FastReport.Core - FastReport.OpenSource appeared. And here's a new one - FastReport.Community which is a free report designer for FastReport.Net. This is a desktop application for the Windows platform for creating and editing reports. FastReport.Net is also bundled with a desktop application with a report designer. What is the difference between a free report designer and a paid one? In this article we will compare them and find out the differences. 

1)      Welcome form. The first thing you will see when launching a designer is a form of greeting. In FastReport.Community, a background image with a neutral plot was added from above. The difference from the usual designer is that the font of the title and the picture will immediately be noticeable to those who previously worked with FastReport.Net. Not canonically somehow.
A regular designer does not have a background image, there is just a red background:

      2)      Localization. At the moment, FastReport.Community provides us with only English localization of the program interface. For many of us, this can be a significant disadvantage.
      But it is not as bad as it seems to be. There is one life hack. Download demo version of FastReport.Net and install. Find the folder Localization in the directory of the installed program. Copy it to your FastReport.Community directory. You can also copy the FastReport.xml file from there, so that tooltips for menu items and toolbars appear in the object inspector.
      Now open the menu File-> Select Language.
In the opened window, select the Localization folder, and get a full range of localizations
      3)      Menu. The community version has an outdated view menu and toolbar.
                   A regular designer allows you to select a menu design. This may be the “outdated” style, as in Microsoft Office 2003, or the updated Ribbon style, as in Microsoft Office 2007: 
In principle, both styles are quite comfortable, you get used to any of them quickly. So I would not attribute only one design style to the cons of Community version.
      4)      Components. To create a report, we use controls (components, controls), which FastReport has always been plenty of. And what is offered to us in the Community version? Let's compare with the standard designer. On the left is a list of FastReport.Net controls, and on the right is FastReport.Community:
Well, here is the first significant minus of the free version of the designer. The following components have become unavailable to us:
         MS Chart - building graphs and charts;
         Sparkline - graph curve;
         CrossView - used for cross-tables;
         Map - maps;
         SVG - a graphic object with the same format;
         RichText - formatted text RTF.
The most useful component, from the listed above, in my opinion is MS Chart. Graphics in reports

      5)      Preview Mode / Viewer.
A report viewer is also included with the designer - the Viewer. In fact, this is the same as the preview mode in the report designer. Therefore, we further consider both of them.
So, along with the reduced number of controls, in the preview mode, we see an almost empty list of exports:
Only the format of a pre-prepared report and export to an image are available. Oh, but everything began so well ... It's sad, but we cannot export to any popular formats. That is, the Community poses solely as a report designer. For comparison, the list of exports of the standard report designer FastReport.Net:
And yes, printing is also not available. Print button removed from the toolbar.
      6)      Plugins
Plug-ins in FastReport.Community, as well as in the usual designer, are available. This is a set of connectors to the databases, which makes it easier to configure the connection to the data source within the report, as compared to the native connectors:
·         FastReport.Data.Couchbase.dll
·         FastReport.Data.Json.dll
·         FastReport.Data.MongoDB.dll
·         FastReport.Data.MySql.dll
·         FastReport.Data.OracleODPCore.dll
·         FastReport.Data.Postgres.dll
·         FastReport.Data.RavenDB.dll
·         FastReport.Data.SQLite.dll
They can be added in the settings of the designer View-> Options ... -> Plugins.

FastReport.Community is a free lite version of the report designer FastReport.Net. It is intended solely for the development of reports and does not allow them to be exported to popular formats and printed. Note that reports created in a standard designer using components that are not in the Community will not work.


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