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Recently I was developing some application that needed good report writer. Naturally I decided to use QuickReport. Everything was ok until I ran into some problems.
This reminded me of the times with Report Smith. Report Smith shipped with first versions of Delphi. It was a real nightmare in report creation. External program that communicated via DDE required you to leave the Delphi IDE to create the report.

However, I decided to test some other VCL based reporting tool. After a few "surfing" days, I have found ACE Reporter, from SCT Associates.

Ace components


Ace Reporter is a Visual Component Library, which creates native Delphi code that gets compiled into the application's executable. Ace lets you create reports visually, without writing any code. The "Fast" button easily populates the report. It takes you systematically through the process of building a report. Instant Previewing ("Run" button) lets you view the report while it is still generating. First time you put ACE on your form you'll notice most common bands (ReportHeader, Pageheader, DetailBand, PageFooter, ReportFooter) and a number of buttons.


Before you can start putting your data fields on the report you have to connect it to a datasource. This is done through TSctGroupPage. There are so many components in Ace that your reports will be filled with information. Text labels for static text, expression variables let you use all the power of Delphi to calculate values, as well as picture clauses, fonts, borders, and alignment. Custom label component gives you an OnDraw event to do custom printing to the canvas. Character, numeric, memo fields and more. There's even a barcode label.
The new Diagnostic Report is like having your own tech support. It analyzes your report components and identifies many common mistakes making it easy to track down problems.
There is option of using the standard preview provided by ACE or designing your own custom preview: adding or removing features that are built-in. Previewed reports can be saved for later viewing or printing. At the end, you get very good, extensive help with useful tutorials. Finally, there is one feature that I miss: possibility of exporting the report to HTML format, because databases are becoming ultimate source of web documents.


I would recommend ACE Reporter as a real reporting enhancement to Delphi. With Ace, I could create multiband reports and user-definable bands with no coding. Nevertheless, Ace Reporter gives us plenty of events for inserting our own code when needed...

All graphics in this feature created by Zarko Gajic.

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