We all know HTML reports are popular for displaying online content: being extremely flexible, they allow many different types of information to be displayed in a semi-automatic way. However, they are as easy to get wrong as they are to generate: tables can behave differently in different browsers; boxes may be out of place, or some of your text may even not show at all. Should this happen, your company may get a bad reputation it does not deserve.
So, is there a way out?
As a matter of fact, yes, there is: you can implement a XML reporting system. Similar to HTML, XML reports also use tags, but they have many additional points in their favor:
- XML reports are much cleaner than HTML reports are.
- They can be customized to suit your needs, as you can create your own tags
- Like HTML reports, XML reports can be viewed in a browser, but, unlike them, they can be used as the source for many formats of online and offline content.
- Finally, should things go wrong, you usually can edit your XML reports by hand, as many programs generate clear, human-readable output.
Let's be realistic: although HTML is here to stay, XML reporting tools are getting more and more promising by the hour: as you read this article, these programs are getting easier and easier to use, and supporting more and more formats.
The bottom line is: if you were to choose, what should you choose?
If you were to choose, certainly choosing a XML report system is the way to go: not only XML reports are more versatile than HTML, but this system can also generate HTML reports itself should you need them. Certainly, the cost of implementing this kind of system is much higher; however, if you can invest into it, affording the time, money and complexity required this is the way to go if you need your documents available in 10 different formats and then some. Although you will spend a while training yourself and your employees, opting for XML reports, in fact, will certainly save you money in the long run.