My Excel data looks like this: (it's a lot bigger in fact)

code1 code2 01/08 02/08
X     A        12    10  
X     B         8    15
Y     A        52     0  
Y     B         5     5

Every day I add a column with extra data (the output of a SQL statement).

A chart with 4 series (X-A, X-B, Y-A and Y-B) and the dates on the X-axis, is easy.
I even found an elaborate solution to make the chart grow as I add dates, but it's hard creating charts for "All Y's" or "All A's".

I could start creating subtotals separately, and charting those, but that's such a maintenance drag.

I've been told not to think of Excel as either a database, report generator or some kind of application deployment mechanism.

But can I get this happening in Excel 2003? Or do I have to look at another charting/reporting tool?

(I would not looking for a Crystal Reports solution if that was the alternative, just something lightweight Office-like.)

5 Answers 5


iReport will not function correctly without a connection to JasperServer. If you're looking for easy reports your best tools are really excel and access. As far as end-user simplicity the buck stops there.

If you're looking for something a bit more robust then I would take a look at any of the following for open source solutions.

If you want to go commercial then you may want to leverage your SQL skills and use something like Telerik reporting, Monarch, or DB Extra like Axxmasterr suggested. If you're looking for something a little more interactive and analytic you can try Tableau, Spotfire, or even Xcelsius.

  • +1 for mentioning Tableau. It's awesome software.
    – andref
    May 1, 2011 at 19:26
  • Another +1 for Tableau.
    – Kirk
    Jun 10, 2011 at 2:18

What version of Excel are you using?

I know in Excel 2007 it's a snap to add a filter to a column and then create a chart from it. The chart changes automatically depending on what filters are set.

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  • Excel 2003. 2007 sure looks better, but the functionality appears more or less the same. AutoFilter is a good tip, but convenient subtotals still seem lacking. Anyway, Excel still doesn't seem like the best reporting tool. Thanks! Jan
    – jan
    Aug 7, 2009 at 9:10

I would check out Open Source Reporting Tools. It is a bit pricey however I am sure you can find an eval copy out there to see if it really does what you need it to do.

DB Extra is also another tool you can use if the open source tools do not work for you.

  • I'm not looking for libraries nor web based solutions. The only promising thing I found was iReport, but in v3.5.3 I downloaded, I got an exception when I want to create a report: java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Called DataObject.find on null at org.openide.loaders.DataObject.find(DataObject.java:474). Duh.
    – jan
    Aug 7, 2009 at 8:49

For what you are doing stick with Excel. And I say that as the CTO of a reporting product that would give you everything you want - but would be overkill for your needs.


You might find XLReport interesting. Excel based; it helps you to import your database easily into Excel as real time connected data sets. Check it out: www.xlreport.com.

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