An Slashdot article titled “Is reporting relevant?” caught my attention yesterday. My interest dropped rapidly after I started reading since it was not about “document generation” type of reporting, even though it does mention documents. The article also provoked James Moody to react on his blog: http://james.moody.name/simplethings/2014/09/25/is-reporting-still-relevant/
The original article and the discussion around it show just how overloaded the term “reporting” is. James explains this very well so I want to focus on the “document” part. The term “document” is less overloaded compared to “report” but it is far from unequivocal.
In some cases “document” accurately describe the nature and intention ( to document a certain state at a moment in time) of user with regards to the data as in the case of requirements documents, compliance document etc.
In other cases the “document” describes only the packaging form (Word, PDF, Excel) as in the case of traffic reports, trend reports etc. Here the data would be more naturally presented and better used in a dynamic environment where the report’s parameters can be changed and connections can be explored ( drill down).
My point here is not if reporting is still relevant or not but to remark the importance of properly identifying the “report/document” type and choosing the right tool for the job. The scenarios above overlap and most “reporting” tools support the overlap to various degrees but for the best results it is important to identify and use the right reporting tool.