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it's been a while since I've reviewed all the BI reporting options available to us, and I'd love to get feedback on what people are using these days.

For years now, I've combined any Civi install with an install of Jasperserver in order to build more customized reports with complex SQL. We tend to create more complex queries (sub-selects, unions, more complex group_concats, etc) for our BI reporting needs, so Jasper has been the tool of choice in the past. Once we know the DB schema well enough, it's pretty quick to create new reports, with input parameters that can also use SQL for dropdown options, etc.

However, Jasper does require a tomcat server and more maintenance, syncing users, etc. It doesn't easily integrate into Civi. At least, I haven't figured out how to make it look like it's a built-in Civi page seamlessly. Maybe there are ways with the soap client, I haven't tried.

Given the additional maintenance for Jasper, I'm looking to see what other tools are preferred these days.

Is SearchKit with Form Builder the extension that is going to eventually replace CiviReports? Am I (or will I be) able to do complex SQL queries in SearchKit and have the resulting columns displayed there as output that can be acted upon? Can we create graphs, input parameters with SQL options, and things like that? I just watched the latest SearchKit video, and it looks amazing, but I'm not yet sure if it's a replacement for reporting or more for forms/contact summary things.

If not SearchKit, is it recommended to try and stick with CiviReports? Those tend to be more of a pain for me to build, there is a lot that must be defined correctly for filters and columns, and I'm not always seeing those definitions in the documentation. It's been a bigger learning curve. But it has a big advantage of being a core part of Civi, and fully integrated with the UI and functionality (exporting, etc, is all built-in).

Any thoughts on what the best tool is for more rapid reporting that can also integrate into Civi?

Thanks!

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    answer may also depend on CMS - we use Drupal VIews for most of our 'mid weight' querying and gives us graphs. you probably know this but thought worth mentioning for others
    – petednz - fuzion
    Aug 19 at 20:22
  • @petednz-fuzion, good point, I forgot to mention Views as I was thinking of something not CMS-dependent. But it's a good point. I don't have much experience with it. Can we create a view with any SQL query? Do views allow for input parameters (filters)?
    – Paul B
    Aug 19 at 21:16
  • Filters, aggregations, row merge, conditional filters, left joins, tables, pivot tables, tables with totals, charts and possibly much more if i was sure i was using the right terminology to help explain :-)
    – petednz - fuzion
    Aug 20 at 2:21
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Reporting needs vary widely, and Jasper is a heavy-duty solution compared to pretty much anything else.

SearchKit is the future of advanced report building within Civi. CiviReports is clunky and requires custom code to do much of its heavy lifting. There's very little that can't be done with SearchKit today that can be done with CiviReports, and that list shrinks monthly.

Input parameters are available now. Graphs would require defining a new display type, which is possible but hasn't been done yet.

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  • Great answer, it's good to know where SearchKit is headed (and good to know I'm not crazy when it comes to CiviReports, lol). I think that helps me narrow things down - maybe stick with Jasper while testing out how much SearchKit can do.
    – Paul B
    Aug 19 at 21:18

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