Crystal Reports Alternative for PDF generation

January 19th, 2019 / by api2pdf /


Crystal Reports is a product offered by SAP. The positives of this product is that it allows you, likely a small business, to connect to an existing data source, and then design how you want your output report to look like. It can export your design to PDF or over a dozen other popular formats. It’s quite a powerful tool.

The problem is, a lot of small business probably think they need Crystal Reports in order to generate PDFs of the data they need. While Crystal Reports offers some great functionality and the ability for a non-programmer to design the views and output of their choosing, it is probably overkill for most use-cases.

The most basic use-case is that you have some data, some kind of desired appearance in how to display that data, and wish to generate that in PDF format. That is all.

Alternative to Crystal Reports for HTML to PDF

The above, basic use-case, can be solved immensely quickly and cheaply by rendering your data as HTML and then converting the HTML to PDF. If you can write simple code, or know someone who does, this should be a basic task. There are two popular PDF rendering engines that convert HTML to PDF: Headless Chrome and wkhtmltopdf. Both of these engines are great, free alternatives to Crystal Reports for the purposes of converting HTML to PDF.


API2PDF is a service that wraps Headless Chrome and wkhtmltopdf rendering engines to allow your developers to convert HTML to PDF in minutes. While Headless Chrome and wkhtmltopdf are solid PDF engines, installing them and connecting your code to work with them can be cumbersome and confusing. Our job is to eliminate that complexity and let us handle the non-sense of actually generating that PDF. This way, all you need to focus on is creating the HTML from the data.


If all you need to do is generate some HTML from the data you have, and convert that to PDF. Your best bet is to use API2PDF to help you get it done. API2PDF costs $1/mo + usage in a pay-as-you-go model. Most of our customers only spend $2/mo in total. Crystal Reports, at the time of this blog post, costs $495. If you have more complex needs where you need to constantly connect to various data sources and design your own custom views and outputs, Crystal Reports is probably still the best option. But most businesses do not need that level of complexity.


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